One of the keys to eating PURE is to eat more fresh vegetables of all different colors. To make these vegetables tastier, one of my favorite spices to use is curry power. Many people do not know that curry powder is not a single spice, but is actually a combination of many different spices. Sure, you can just buy pre-made curry powder at the store, but once you learn how to make curry powder you will no longer be content to buy it already prepared. When you make your own, you can control the balance of the different components to adjust to your preference, and you can also control how smoky or toasted you like the spices. If you have never toasted your own spices before you are in for a treat when you smell the delicious aroma for the first time.
One of the main ingredients in curry powder is turmeric. The active component in turmeric is curcumin. Scientists have found that it has a powerful range of anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties. They believe that it may explain why the incidence of many cancers in India is low compared with western countries. The average Indian eats turmeric every day. What makes this curry powder even more beneficial is the addition of black pepper. By itself, the curcumin in turmeric is not easily absorbed by the body. However, piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper greatly aids the absorption of curcumin.
This recipe is adapted from the authentic curries that were made at the London gentleman’s club, the Oriental Club, in the mid 19th century. At that time, the British were obsessed with the culture and curries from India, and this club catered to high society. So, here is how to make curry powder, based on the 1861 recipe:
5 teaspoons coriander seed
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon cardamom seeds (removed from the pods)
½ teaspoon whole cloves
2 Tablespoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
All of these spices are commonly available. However, it is sometimes hard to find good quality cardamom seeds. The seeds in the pods should be black and fragrant, not tan and powdery. Unfortunately, you will not know until you buy them. I have a jar of good cardamom and bad cardamom in my kitchen right now!
The key to making this curry powder really come alive is the toasting of the whole spices. Heat a steel fry pan (avoid non-stick cookware) until drops of water sprinkled on it will just ball up. This is the right temperature. Next, add the coriander seed, black pepper, cumin seeds, cardamom seeds and cloves to the pan and stir constantly with a wooden spatula. The idea is to keep the spices moving around on the pan constantly so that they do not burn on one side. How much to toast the spices is a bit subjective. If you have never done this before, its best on err on the slightly under toasted side. When you see the spices start to turn color and smoke they are done. Quickly pour the spices out of the hot pan and onto a large plate to cool.
After the roasted spices have cooled, pour them into a coffee grinder or personal blender and grind thoroughly, until it is a very fine powder. Add the ground turmeric, ginger and cayenne and grind a few more seconds to mix will.
That’s it! Now you have some of the best tasting curry powder ever, and the aroma is absolutely intoxicating. Store it in a sealed glass jar kept in a dark, dry and cool place. Now that you know how to make curry powder, we will show how to use it in an upcoming post!