Curry Powder

Curry Powder

I’m back, after taking several months off. And what do I come back with after all that time– recipes for creative things to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers, like most food blogs will do this time of year? No, I have to be different. Why a curry powder recipe post on Thanksgiving weekend? It is actually related to Thanksgiving leftovers: We go to Kristina’s parents for Thanksgiving, so my only experience with cooking turkeys so far is smoking a whole turkey. But we get plenty of turkey leftovers to take home, so I used the bones to make a big batch of turkey stock, and then I used some of the stock and turkey meat to make this Curried Turkey Soup Recipe from Simply Recipes, which was really good.

Why go to all the trouble of making your own curry powder, when you can just buy it ready-made anywhere? And why do I keep asking and answering my own questions in this post? Well, there’s a couple reasons why it’s nice to make your own curry powder from scratch. And it’s really not all that much trouble. First, you start with spices in their whole, unground form, and unground spices will stay fresh a lot longer than when they’re purchased pre-ground. So your curry powder, made in small fresh-ground batches, will be at the peak of flavor. Also, you can adjust things to suit your taste. The mad scientist in me likes experimenting with amounts and types of ingredients to fine-tune what I like best.

Although I’m using my curry powder to try a recipe from the great Simply Recipes site this time, I’ll use this curry powder in my own chicken or lamb curry recipe in an upcoming post.


  • 2 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds
  • 1 tablespoon powdered turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered red chili pepper or two dried peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon or two cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered cloves or 3-4 whole cloves

Go spice shopping! Hopefully you have an Indian grocery near you. If not, it may be difficult to find all the proper ingredients, so you may have to shop online for them. I recently stopped by an Indian grocery near where I work and stocked up on spices. Indian groceries are a great source to get spices very inexpensively. And not just spices typically used in Indian-style cooking– things like whole bay leaves are much cheaper than they typically are at other stores. Mustard seeds, chili pepper, and many other spices you can use in many different styles of cooking can be found here. I bought all of these spices for under $25.00:

Spices Purchased
Measure out the spices. Now, the plan is to start with as many spices in their whole form as possible, so they can be ground up fresh. But you may not have everything in whole form on hand. In the picture below the only ingredients I started with in powder form are turmeric and ginger, because these related vegetables come in root form, not seeds, like many of the other ingredients. So it’s easier to buy these in pre-dried and pre-powdered form. Also, I didn’t have whole cloves, and whole dried cloves don’t grind up easily, so I used powdered cloves. You may not have whole dried red chilies or whole cinnamon sticks, so it’s perfectly fine to use chili powder or ground cinnamon instead. The spices that are best to start out with whole are the dried seeds– cumin. coriander, fenugreek, cardamom, mustard, and black pepper– because we’re going to further bring out the flavor of these by toasting them before we grind them up.

In the picture below, on the plate, in clockwise order starting with the peppers– whole dried red chili peppers, black peppercorns, cardamom seeds, fenugreek, mustard seeds, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds and in the center, cumin seeds. In the small bowl, clockwise from the top are ground turmeric, cloves and ginger:

Curry Spices-Whole

Now we’ll toast all of the dried seed spices– everything on the plate in the step 2 pic, except for the chilis and cinnamon sticks. just add the spices to a pan wide enough that they’re spread out in a single layer, on medium-high heat, and shake them around in the pan until they just start to lightly brown- careful not to burn them:

Toasting Curry Spices

Now grind up all the whole ingredients, either in a dedicated spice grinder, food processor, or whatever you can use to get everything in powdered form. I use an old coffee bean grinder that I now use exclusively for spices. When the whole spices are mostly ground up I throw the pre-ground spices in for a few more spins of the grinder just to help mix everything up:

Grinding Curry Spices

This recipe makes about a 1/2 cup of curry powder, which (depending on how curried you like your curries) will probably be good for two meals. The unused curry powder will stay fresh in a sealed container for a few weeks. enjoy!

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