Monday, December 27, 2010

Curry Powder

In honor of the incomparable pleasure of eating dishes with freshly roasted spices!  There is a tremendous difference from prepared curry powders, which use a limited number of ingredients and have been ground weeks, months, or even years before. 
I often make spice blends in fairly large batches and then freeze portions of it... that immediate freshness is gone within two weeks at room temperature, though there will still be more flavor than in store-bought blends.  I also use this recipe for making gifts.  Include a note with some easy ideas (sprinkling over roasted root veggies, on hummus, etc.) as well as with a detailed recipe for a more complex curry dish.
These days one stop at a well stocked Asian market should get you all of these spices at a reasonable price.  The cardamom and saffron are the only two expensive ingredients... However, if you don't want to buy large packages, many Whole Foods stores carry all of these spices (except the saffron and onion seeds) in bulk, so you can buy smaller amounts for a reasonable price as well.
Ingredients
3 Tbs cumin seeds
4 Tbs coriander seeds
4 Tbs ground turmeric
1 Tbs cardamom seeds
1 Tbs mustard seeds
1 tsp onion seeds
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 Tbs white peppercorns
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp whole cloves
1 whole nutmeg
1 Tbs ground ginger
2-4 tsp cayenne powder
2 pinches (about 8 whole threads) saffron

Procedure
1. Heat a dry skillet.  When it is hot, reduce the heat to low and add all of the ingredients that are not powdered (be sure that there is no more than a single layer in the skillet at once).  Toast the seeds until fragrant, about 1-1 1/2 minutes. Remove the seeds immediately to a glass bowl and allow to cool.
2. Once the toasted spices have cooled, add the powdered spices to the bowl and stir.
3. Add the spices to an electric spice or coffee grinder in three batches; pulse 4 times, then grind until powdered.  Pour into a bowl, and stir all three batches together when finished.
(Hint : of course we are supposed to have two separate grinders for coffee and spices, but sometimes we don't have space or money for that luxury!  I use the same grinder: I just clean well before and after, and enjoy the fact that my coffee is spicy for a week or so!)
4. Store your curry powder in an air-tight glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Keep in a cool, dry place.

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