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Make your own curry powder

Updated on June 10, 2013

What's in curry powder?

There's nothing more delicious than a curry, but have you ever wondered which herbs and curry spices actually go into one? Or how to make your own curry powder?

You can find out here what to do to make the tastiest curries ever. You can even invent your own combination of spices so you get a personal recipe that's just exactly right.

In other words, make your own curry powder, convert it into a wonderful paste and wow your family and friends with a 'ruby' they'll never forget.

For more info and recipes about curry visit my group page at The Curry Temple.

Spice Alchemy - Volume 1 - Dry Spice Combinations

Spice Alchemy: Indian Curry Recipes & Other Magical Cooking (Spice Cookery Book 1)
Spice Alchemy: Indian Curry Recipes & Other Magical Cooking (Spice Cookery Book 1)

This book is a fantastic mine of information about mixing different spice combinations, from Indian curries, to Chinese spice mixes; and even Cajun seasonings that you can create for yourself.

Each spice mix is then used in a real recipe, showing how to use it to get a deep and delicious tasty spicy meal.

I've just got my copy of this and recommend it to everyone!


What is curry powder?

A wonderful array of herbs and spices

When I started making curries as a teenager, like many people I reached for the readily available commercial curry powders. There are several varieties, but the ones most easily obtained are the Madras curry powders - they come in mild and hot strengths.

The mild and hot Madras curry powders differ in the amount of chili powder in the mix. But hey, if chili powder is all there is to it, then it would be called chili powder, not curry powder. So what else goes in to make the distinctively delicious flavor of a curry powder?

In a typical Madras curry powder, you will find a combination of spices: cumin, coriander, turmeric, pepper, mustard, garlic, salt, fenugreek, fennel and cassia. When making your own, use cinnamon instead of cassia. Cassia bark is normally used instead of cinnamon commercially because it is cheaper.

It's fine to use curry powder - Don't think of it as cheating!

I still use curry powder because it's really convenient and quick. For special occasions and for special guests I like to make my own spice mixtures. If you want to try a ready-made curry powder, have a go with one of these:

Here come the spices!


Tuj or Dalchini

Cinnamon is a relatively expensive spice, and is commonly replaced by cassia bark in commercial powder mixes. If you use the raw spice and buy cinnamon sticks, there is a fairly easy way to tell whether you are buying genuine or the cheaper cassia. Cassia bark rolls up from both sides and forms a kind of 'scroll' whereas genuine cinnamon simply rolls all the way up in one direction. Often you'll find that stores will sell you 'cinnamon' but actually it isn't; it's cassia.

It is used in many meat recipes and has a strong impact on the flavor of a curry. It is not necessary to dry fry cinnamon for use in curries, but the flavor is somewhat enhanced by doing so, and then powdering into the curry mixture.



Cloves are an extremely strong spice, adding both flavor and aroma to a curry. Even just 2 or 3 added to a curry can produce a perceptible flavor.

Cloves can be added whole to a curry or used with other spices and ground to make a garam masala.

Stock up on cloves - Whole cloves and powdered cloves

Coriander seed


Coriander seed is used in curry powders, and the plant itself, cilantro, is also very common in Asian cookery.

It gives the characteristic 'curry' flavor, and needs to be 'dry' fried - without oil - for a few minutes before use. Grind it in a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar after frying.

It's best to keep a grinder especially for use with your curry spices.

Stock up on Corriander - Corriander seeds and powder

Cumin seed


Cumin seeds can be used whole or ground in Indian cookery. As with many curry spices, dry fry briefly - for less than a minute - before using. Be careful not to burn the cumin seeds; this can happen very easily. Add other 'wet' ingredients (such as tomato etc) quickly after frying the seeds to disperse the pan's heat.

Cumin seeds are used commonly in dry vegetarian curries, and sometimes added as a seasoning to boiled rice, imparting flavor and fragrance.

Stock up on Cumin - Cumin seeds and powder

Fennel seed


Fennel seed has an 'aniseed' type of flavor, and whenever aniseed is mentioned in Indian cookery, it is usually fennel that is actually the ingredient.

Fennel is often used in garam masala powder and is used in Kashmiri cuisine. It is one of the few spices that imparts its aroma and flavor without the need for prior dry frying.

Fenugreek seed


Fenugreek is not used very often in Asian cuisine, but used mainly in Southern Indian cookery.

The seeds are fried quickly with mustard seeds, before the other spices are added. They are also used roasted and powdered with red chili as part of a condiment known as muligapuri.

Stock up on Fenugreek - Methi seeds and powder

Black mustard seed


Black mustard seeds are used whole in Southern Indian curries and vegetable recipes.

They are the first ingredient into the dry pan, and need to be dry fried for only 10-15 seconds - you will realise why when they start to 'pop' and jump about in the pan! When they start to crackle, add the next spice or ingredient according to the recipe.

Poppy seed

Khus khus

Poppy seeds have a mild nutty taste and are generally ground to a paste with a little water after the initial dry frying.

They can be used as a coating for potatoes, or used in a curry to add the nutty taste, as well as thickening the curry.

Inside my 'Curry Cupboard'

Inside my 'Curry Cupboard'
Inside my 'Curry Cupboard'

Spice grinding - To make your own curry powder

After combining your selection of spices - it is best to use the whole seeds rather than pre-ground powders - dry fry them in a small pan (without cooking oil). When they start to crackle and 'pop' stop frying them, and let the mixture cool.

Then grind to a powder. Use the powder with onion, garlic, fresh ginger and fresh chilies, blending them all together in a food processor to make your curry paste.

But what do I do with these spices?

The Naked Chef to the Rescue

One of Jamie Oliver's curry recipes

I first got into making my own curry powders a few years ago when I bought one of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks - he's an English chef who uses the word pukka, unlike the more US known chef Gordon Ramsay, who would probably use a word that rhymes with pukka.

Jamie's book The Return of the Naked Chef has this lovely curry spice combination (he calls it his 'Hot & Fragrant Rub'):

  • fennel seeds - 2tbsp

  • cumin seeds - 2tbsp

  • coriander seeds - 2tbsp

  • fenugreek seeds - 0.5tbsp

  • black peppercorns - 0.5tbsp

  • 1 clove

  • half a cinnamon stick

  • 2 cardamom pods

  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

Dry fry the mixture of spices and then pound or grind into a powder for use in a delicious curry.

For a curry recipe so delicious - You'll become a curriholic!

More spicy ideas

If you don't want to grind your spices

Although you can buy hot and medium curry powders, you might want to vary the level of heat in your curry. A really great way of doing this is to mix some different powdered spices.

For example, a delicious tikka masala recipe can be made by cooking out some onion, garlic, ginger and fresh chilies. Then add commercially available garam masala powder, turmeric powder, chili powder (to suit your own taste) and a little sugar. This way, you are not constrained by the ratio of ingredients found in, say, Madras curry powder.

For a full recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala see below.

Are you ready to create your signature curry? - Let me know how you get on

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    • Unlimited11-11 profile image

      Tom McHugh 4 years ago from Lake Champlain, Vermont, USA

      Thanks for the info. I love curry; now I need to create my own signature blend.

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 4 years ago

      I usually mix my own curry, it does make a difference.

    • cjbmeb14 lm profile image

      cjbmeb14 lm 5 years ago

      Love curry the hotter the better.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Excellent presentation! Thanks so much for sharing - blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • profile image

      jessica-fletch-3 5 years ago

      I had created my own curry,a little twist from the original receipe. Tasty and delicious good,my family love it!

    • profile image

      NC Shepherd 5 years ago I'm hungry.

    • CATPICK profile image

      CATPICK 5 years ago

      Excellent! thanx:)

    • Whitwillow LM profile image

      Whitwillow LM 5 years ago

      That's great. I'll be back.

    • MBradley McCauley profile image

      MBradley McCauley 5 years ago

      Well done. I love curry and will be making my own according to your directions above. Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Back to flutter my angel wings and sprinkle some dust on this - BLESSED!

    • vincente lm profile image

      vincente lm 5 years ago

      We are currently in Sir Lanka and fell in love with the the food... all these curries ... best are the prices! 1.20 Dollar for an incredible lunch!

      Never really knew what curry was made off, now I know :)

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      So, great - I ate Indian at my wedding dinner, the waiter made a big deal about not using prepared powder. Bookmarked!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      super idea, i never thought of this, will try next time we cook a curry, afterall commercial curry power can be quite expensive!

      Thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      SplashPro 6 years ago

      Superb post. I am always fascinated with the spices. Great info and will help a great deal.

    • profile image

      RobinDM 6 years ago

      This is great! I always spend a small fortune buying curry powder in the store (when I can even find it) and this will be such a help! Thanks!

    • profile image

      cocoacookie 6 years ago

      I have always used the kind already made I haven't tried to make it myself yet but I cant wait.

    • dawngibson lm profile image

      dawngibson lm 6 years ago

      I can't wait to try!

    • christopherlee lm profile image

      christopherlee lm 6 years ago

      Nice tips on curry, thanks for sharing.

    • bames24 lm profile image

      bames24 lm 6 years ago

      we always make our own :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I like the idea of making my own curry that way I could make it more or less spicy depending on the recipe. Thanks for the great info

    • LotusMalas profile image

      LotusMalas 7 years ago

      Sounds wonderful - I can smell it already!

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 7 years ago

      Making my own curry? Might give it a try. Thanks for the recipes and history.

    • TopMovieSoundtr profile image

      TopMovieSoundtr 7 years ago

      I can't get enough cumin so the idea of making my own curry mix is appealing.

    • EelKat13 profile image

      EelKat13 8 years ago

      Dropping a note to let you know this lens was blessed.


    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 8 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      A loverly mix of different spices , looks great and I bet it beats the old supermarket curry power, I will have to try it. My father was mad for a curry as he had been in the Indian Army, the one thing that he cooked for us.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

      I have made garam masala (I'm not sure of the spelling) but not curry powder.

      Welcome to the Culinary Favorites From A to Z group. Your page is being featured on the group page tonight. Don’t forget to come back and add your lens to the link list so that it will appear on the group page!

      Your page is also blessed tonight by a SquidAngel.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I've never tried curry. Wonderful lens!

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 8 years ago from Minnesota

      Well, I sure did learn something, today! I'm definitely going to make a batch of kids love curry so I'll surprise them with the homemade curry seasoning...thanks! Great lens.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Welcome to the Asian Foods group.

      This looks yummy!

    • profile image

      mae777 8 years ago

      Curry is one of my favorite spices. It adds a great flavor to so many dishes. This is a unique lens, great work.

    • Sniff It Out profile image

      Sniff It Out 8 years ago

      Nice lens, one of my kitchen cupboards is devoted to a selection of spices like these... but then I do make a lot of curries :)

      Welcome to The Cooks Cafe group.

    • profile image

      mcgelligot 9 years ago

      Hey, great lens on making curry. I can see that it is something that I am going to have to try. I know some of the recipes that my wife really likes are so hot that they clear your sinuses. When we have a dish I call curried chicken we put a box of cleanex on the table. But then, I usually add a lot of red peppers. I suppose I could make my own curry that has the red pepper right in it. Five stars, by the way...

    • profile image

      The_Colorful_Squid 9 years ago

      I didn't know that curry was a mixture of spices. Wow. I think I want to make my own spices now.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 9 years ago

      Wow, you must taste horseradish! If you want it milder, it comes mixed with mayo, but I like my eyes to water.

      Get tip on adding your experimental ingredient separately, I would never have thought of it.

    • RichLeighHD profile image

      RichLeighHD 9 years ago

      Curries really don't agree with me! I enjoyed your lens however and this one is most definitely deserving of 5 shiny stars. Nice work!

    • ArtSiren LM profile image

      ArtSiren LM 9 years ago

      Thanks Margo. I don't see any reason not to try horseradish - I never have though, but it's got a 'mustardy' taste hasn't it, which might work? (Funny, I've never tasted horseradish!) I've seen spicy dipping sauce recipes that contain horseradish along with curry powder.

      My advice is when you make a curry, to take some out into a smaller pan, and add your 'experimental' ingredient to that so you can try it without ruining the whole lot, if the experiment 'goes bad'! I'm always trying new flavors out, but they need to be fairly robust to stand out in a hot curry.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 9 years ago

      Oh, and 5*'s. Just let me know about the horseradish!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 9 years ago

      Well, horseradish is one of my favorites! As an expert, do you think it would go into a curry? Should I try that?

    • ArtSiren LM profile image

      ArtSiren LM 9 years ago

      LOL. It's okay Mulberry! I use the commercial curry powder a lot. There is no shame. ;)

      I like to make my own curry mixes for very special people and special occasions. You're right though, the taste of a freshly made one is so outstanding you wouldn't believe it!

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 9 years ago

      Thank you for allowing us cheaters to feel too bad about using the powder. The homemade stuff is always better and you've enticed me, but it may be quite awhile before I find the time ;(

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 9 years ago

      Ah, now you've got me hooked on your 'food' lenses -- I need to learn to make my own curry powder. I gravitate towards the Thai red curry and the green is secondary -- seems a bit too hot for me. I'll whip up a mean chicken red curry Thai style that my hubby says is better than some of the restaurants' versions. 5***** lens!