Curry powder

British people have loved hot and spicy food for much longer than is generally given credit… mustard? Horseradish and ordinary radishes? Watercress? … and the actual making of ‘curried’ dishes using a combination of spices also has a very long history. However, it’s marvellous now with all the spices which are available, and all the different foods and recipes we have to make what we now think of as curry… but every so often something crops up which needs ‘curry powder’ the sort of thing which was all available in the fifties, the flavour of Coronation chicken, kedgeree, school dinners, and leftovers at home mixed together and ‘pepped up’ as my mum used to say.

We have whole spices at home, and make ou own blends, roasting and grinding or grinding and roasting to make a blend for  whatever it is we’re cooking. However, the other night we were making kedgeree and what we wanted (authentic or not, it’s what we wanted) was the old-fashioned curry powder which gives a particular flavour and colour. So we bought a supermarket packet of ‘curry powder’… which I have to say was really disappointing. It had plenty of turmeric to give the yellow colour, but the overriding flavour was black pepper… which didn’t seem at all right… and there was no fenugreek which gives it that distinctive flavour. Hmmm…

So I’ve been looking at other shop made curry powders:

  • ground coriander, salt, turmeric, ginger, fenugreek, cumin, mustard, garlic powder, allspice, cayenne pepper, black pepper
  • coriander, cumin, salt, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon,  fenugreek, pimento, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, mustard seed, black pepper, dill seed, chilli powder, clove, fennel seed, ginger, celery seed, bay leaf, cardamom, nutmeg
  • coriander seed, cumin seed, onion, salt, chilli powder, fenugreek, garlic powder, ginger, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, clove, bay leaf, cardamom
  • coriander, turmeric, cumin seed, black pepper, salt, paprika, onion powder, ginger, fennel seed, garlic powder, cardamom, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, clove, pimento
  • coriander, turmeric, onion, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, cumin, ginger, white pepper, cayenne

I think maybe we shall have to do our own research into different combinations of spices to get that authentic old-fashioned English curry flavour… And I think we shall start our experimentation with going back 170 years to Eliza Acton:

  • 6-8 parts turmeric, 4-5 parts coriander, 2 parts each of cumin and fenugreek, half a part more or less of cayenne

I think this is going to be a long and enjoyable journey! meanwhile, here’s an interesting article:


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