Madras Curry Powder
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This homemade Madras Curry Powder recipe has more flavor than anything you’ll find in the store! You can absolutely taste the difference when you grind your own spices. Plus, it’s cheaper! Toast and boast your own homemade spice blend to sprinkle over all of your favorite Indian cuisine.
Madras curry powder was invented in the southern Indian city now known as Chennai. It’s red hot in both color and flavor!
If you’re familiar with common Indian herbs and seasonings, then you won’t be shocked by the ingredients that go into this spice blend: cardamom, cassia bark (similar to cinnamon), dried curry leaves, fenugreek, turmeric… They’re all here! The difference lies in the use of kashmiri chiles, adding that vibrant ruby color and extra kick.
Despite the use of dried chiles, these spices and seasonings provide an excellent balance. The heat isn’t overpowering, and you can still taste the subtler mustard and curry leaves. It is, however, spicier than your regular curry powder or garam masala blends.
Try this spice blend in your favorite stir fry dishes, soups, and, of course, in curries! Feel free to browse my expansive list of Indian recipes and use this smoky sweet spice wherever you’d like a bit more heat.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Dried Kashmiri Chiles – A relatively mild chili. So mild that you could even use smoked paprika and/or cayenne powder.
- Cassia Bark – Also known as cinnamon. Ground ginger makes a good substitute.
- Green Cardamom Pods – Intensely warm and a bit sweet.
- Black Peppercorns – A familiar, earthy spice. You could also use white or pink peppercorns, if preferred. Some other interesting substitutes that I’ve seen are papaya seeds or white coriander. I haven’t tried them myself, but they should work just fine.
- Coriander Seeds – This spice has a sweet flavor and a strong scent — you’d be hard-pressed to find a curry recipe without it.
- Cumin Seeds – Nutty and sweet, and a common partner of coriander.
- Fenugreek Seeds – Once toasted, these seeds turn from bitter to sweet and nutty. You could swap them out with fennel. To me they smell like maple.
- Mustard Seeds – Very mild, but will become more pronounced in taste when used in stews and sauces.
- Dried Curry Leaves – These leaves taste a bit like anise, with a citrus flavor that is reminiscent of lemongrass.
- Ground Turmeric – Earthy and peppery, and very bitter. This spice is almost synonymous with curry and should not be substituted.
HOW TO MAKE MADRAS CURRY POWDER
- Begin Toasting. Heat a skillet over medium heat, without adding any oils. Throw in the kashmiri chiles and toss in the skillet for 30 seconds. Next, add the cassia bark, cardamom, and peppercorns. Heat all for another 30 seconds.
- Continue Toasting the Spices. Add the coriander, cumin, fenugreek seeds, and mustard seeds. Toast all for 1 minute. Remove the toasted spices from the heat.
- Grind Everything Together. Once cooled, add all of the toasted spices to a grinder along with the dried curry leaves and turmeric. Grind all.
- Seal, Store, and Sprinkle As Needed! It’s important to store homemade spice blends in an airtight container and keep in a cool, dark place like your pantry. Use within 3 months while the spices are at their freshest and most flavorful.
What does Madras curry powder contain?
Every madras curry powder recipe will contain a few of the same ingredients: coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, cinnamon, black pepper, some form of mustard seed. You’ll also find some form of hot chili, usually Kashmiri, for that iconic heat.
Some recipes include fennel, bay leaves, and/or anise. Some may even cut down on the ingredient list. In my opinion, the combination of spices listed here give you the best balance of flavor.
How long does this curry powder last?
While homemade spice blends are safe to consume for a very long time, that doesn’t mean that they’ll remain flavorful and bold indefinitely. Once toasted and blended, this madras curry powder recipe will remain fresh for up to 3 months.
Can I use powdered spices to make curry powder?
You absolutely can, though I do recommend toasting and grinding your own spices for added freshness.
If making this recipe with powdered instead of whole seed spices, use the following measurements. Use the same amount of dried curry leaves and grind to mix with the powdered spices:
- 3 teaspoons kashmiri chili powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 ½ teaspoons coriander
- 2 ¼ teaspoon cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons fenugreek
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 2 tablespoons turmeric
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Madras Curry Powder
- 6 dried Kashmiri chiles (3 teaspoon ground kashmiri chili powder)
- 4- inch piece of cassia bark or cinnamon stick (1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon)
- 20 whole green cardamom pods (1 teaspoon ground cardamom)
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns (1 teaspoon ground black pepper)
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds (4 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander)
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds (2 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin)
- 2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (1 1/2 teaspoons ground fenugreek)
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (1 teaspoon dry mustard)
- 30 dried curry leaves
- 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
- Toast the chiles in a dry skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds, shaking the pan to move around. Add the cassia bark (cinnamon stick), cardamom and peppercorns and toast another 30 seconds.
- Next add the coriander, cumin, fenugreek and mustard seeds, toast for 1 minute.
- Transfer the spices to a plate and let cool completely.
- Transfer to a spice grinder. Add the dried curry leaves and turmeric. Grind to a fine powder.
- Store in an airtight container and use within three months for maximum freshness.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.