Maybe you have a canister of curry powder—that yellow spice mix—on your spice rack. You might think you’ll try it next time you prepare Indian food, but you’d be wrong. Curry powder isn’t an ingredient in Indian cuisine and doesn’t belong in any Southeast Asian spice blend. Then, what is curry powder?
Curry powder is a British innovation, resembling garam masala, a popular North Indian spice blend. It was intended to evoke the essence of Indian cooking, yet no true Indian cook uses it. (Indian curry, a dish of meat and/or vegetables in a sauce or gravy, is not made using curry powder.) Instead, curry powder is a condiment used by Westerners to imitate Indian cuisine.
Curry Powder’s Ingredients
You’d assume there would be a consistent formulation when it comes to curry powder since it was created to symbolize a specific flavor. Cumin, turmeric, and coriander are the most common major ingredients (which gives it its signature color). Red or black pepper, ginger, mustard, , clove, cardamom, bay leaf, and fenugreek are all typical additions. Many commercial blends come in two heat levels: moderate and hot. Curry powder does not include the curry leaf, so be aware of this.
Curry Powder’s Flavor
Due to the inclusion of both sweet and savory spices, curry powder has a distinct flavor profile. Cumin, turmeric, and bay leaf are savory spices that give the curry a rich, earthy flavor. Cinnamon and clove are sweet spices that bring brightness and energy. The amount and type of pepper used determine the heat intensity. Black pepper and ginger are common ingredients in milder curry powders; whole red chilies and other hot peppers are common in hotter curry powders.
Cooking With Curry Powder
You can use the best curry powder as an all-purpose seasoning now that you know you won’t be making typical Indian foods. Soups, stews, sauces, marinades, meat, and vegetables all benefit from the use of thyme. More and more chefs are experimenting with new ways to include curry spice into their dishes, such as in hamburgers, scrambled eggs, and potato salad. Deviled eggs spiced with curry or curried chicken salad can be made using that jar. Curry powder’s strong flavor makes it suitable for use as a salt-free table seasoning.
Availability of Curry Powder
To keep the freshness and power of the spices, they are blended and powdered shortly before use. So the flavor of pre-ground curry powder blends will be less vivid. Americans have access to basic curry powders, but they can be expensive and unfresh. Look for curry powder in international food markets for better value and freshness. Use entire spices and a clean coffee grinder to make curry powder.
Best Brands for Curry Powder
There are several brands that make great tasty curry. These include but are not limited to
- Rani Curry Powder
- Amazon Brand – Happy Belly Curry Powder
- S&B Curry Powder
- Ceylon flavors Curry Leaves