Kate Heyhoe

Kate's Global Kitchen


The Indian Kitchen: Curry Powder

by Kate Heyhoe


Exactly what is curry? Is it...

a) a ground nut that grows on evergreen trees
b) a blend of spices, or
c) a type of yellow peppercorn?

Before we give you the answer, let's talk about curried dishes in general. Curries may have originated in India, but trade ships brought them centuries ago to the shores of Southeast Asia. The peoples of present day Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, and Laos embraced these spicy dishes and integrated them into their own culinary repertoire. You can taste variations on curried dishes throughout these lands, each culture putting its own stamp of indigenous foods into them.


So what is curry? If you answered "b) a blend of spices" you were correct. What we call "curry powder" is a premixed blend created as a result of the British colonial period in India. The word itself does not exist in the Indian languages. Both the British and the Indian expatriates who left their homeland for other parts of the British empire longed for the taste of Indian's spice blends but lacked the resources and time to create them from scratch. Hence, curry powder was born—essentially an early "convenience food," and typically contains cayenne, coriander, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, fenugreek, ginger, mace, and of course, turmeric, which gives it that bright yellow color.

In India there is no such thing as curry powder. What the Indians do make, and do so fresh on a daily basis, are spice blends known as masalas. Unlike curry powder, which tends to make all foods taste the same, these masalas vary their ingredients and because they are ground from whole seeds at the time of cooking, they perfume the dishes with much richer and deeper flavors.

Still, the convenience of commercial curry powder has worked its way firmly into Western recipes and may be added to everything from deviled eggs to chicken salads, soups, rice and vegetables.

Tip: Curry powder can have a raw taste; to prevent this, sauté it in a little butter or oil before adding it to a recipe. Also, be careful not to add too much. Curry powder's intense flavor goes a long way and can easily overpower a dish.

Here's a recipe using curry:

Chicken Curry

The Indian Kitchen


Visit India page

Current Kate's Global Kitchen
Kate's Global Kitchen Archive


This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.

Copyright © 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.

Arrow to Top

This page modified January 2007

The Global Gourmet
The Global Gourmet®
Main Page


Spring Recipes for
Easter & Passover

   Clip to Evernote

Bookmark and Share


Twitter: @KateHeyhoe

Search this site:

Advanced Search
Recent Searches


Kate's Global Kitchen
Kate's Books
Cookbook Profiles
Global Destinations
Holiday & Party Recipes
I Love Desserts
On Wine

Caffeine and You Caffeine and You
cooking kids Cooking with Kids
new green basics New Green Basics

Conversions, Charts
   & Substitutions

About the
Global Gourmet®
   Contact Info
   Privacy Statement

Recent Cookbooks

Cooking Italian
175 Home Recipes
4-Hour Chef
Bakery Cookbook
Barefoot Contessa
Bouchon Bakery
Burma: Rivers of Flavor
Cake Mix Doctor
Comfort Food
Craft of Coffee
Crazy Sexy Kitchen
Daily Cookie
Fifty Shades Chicken
French Slow Cooker
Frontera - Rick Bayless
Gluten-Free Quick & Easy
Jerusalem: A Cookbook
Kitchen Science
Lidia's Favorite Recipes
Make-Ahead and Freeze
Modern Milkshakes
Modernist Cuisine
Mystic Cookbook
Paleo Slow Cooking
Picky Palate
Pop Bakery
Practical Paleo
Quick Family Cookbook
Sensational Cookies
Smitten Kitchen
Southern Living Recipes
Sweet Life in Paris
Trader Joe's Vegetarian
True Food
Whole Larder

More Cookbooks


Kitchen & Home


Copyright © 1994-2013,
Forkmedia LLC



cat toysCatnip Toys

Kitchen & Home