You Do Need Spices

Blog: Cooking with Madhu

You Do Need Spices

 

Hello, everyone, this is my first blog. And naturally, it needs to start with spices.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people equate Indian curry with curry powder. Curry equals Indian food throughout the world. It’s not worth clarifying or discussing the nomenclature, “Curry” it is! But I do have a problem with curry powder.

If you want to make real, authentic Indian curry, you have to buy individual spices. 

What is Curry? Non-Indians often equate any dish in a yellow sauce as curry and use curry powder as the primary spice. Over the years, I have been asked numerous times, “Did you forget to add curry powder in Chicken Curry?” REALLY!

Curry powder you purchased is a spice blend that includes turmeric, which is the ingredient that makes dishes yellow, and four to six other spices. When used in dishes it will naturally make every dish have a similar color, taste, and flavor.

Most Indians do not own curry powder. For each dish, they use individual spices to create a different taste and flavor. If you want authentic flavors, you have to use individual spices.

By the way, if you love your curry powder, great; enjoy it in the recipes you like. But don't use it in all Indian recipes. Think it of it like chili powder; it's great for making chili, but not for all Mexican dishes.

Get Started:
The number of spices in Indian cooking can seem overwhelming to a newcomer. To begin, you don’t need to purchase every spice in the cookbook. Start with the basic spices and as you expand your repertoire of Indian dishes you can add to your spice pantry.

Basic Spices:
Cayenne Pepper
Cumin Seeds
Garam Masala
Ground Coriander
Brown Mustard Seeds
Turmeric

Asafetida (optional, yet it's an important spice as it helps with digesting beans)

And please don’t freak out about the number of ingredients; it really doesn’t take that much more time to add 5 spices vs. one curry powder. 

Let’s start with the most basic recipe, anytime favorite, the versatile potato curry, see below.

09/06/2013 12:26 PM |Add a comment |Comments (2)
Comments
You're right Paul. Curry powder was originally created for the British, to simplify making curries at home. Unfortunately, even to this day curry powder is used to make curries by non Indians. Even professional chefs tend to reach for curry powder when making Indian curry. I can understand the desire for ease and one spice, but it is limiting in flavor and taste - it's bound to be, right.

Madhu | 10/27/2013 1:08 PM
From what I understand, curry powder is not an Indian thing. It was invented by the British as a blend instead of mixing spices individually. So, curry powder is a kind of short cut to cooking Indian food with spices. I am sure you can shed some light on this. Thanks Paul

Paul Persaud | paulpersaud1219@yahoo.com | 10/01/2013 8:52 PM
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