One of the most popular spice mixes around, Madras Curry Powder is a earthy, yet fragrant mix of spices, and is used for a number of dishes, both meat and vegetarian. This blend of spices is freely available in mainstream supermarkets, and popularly used as a subsitute for a more generic version of curry powder. The supermarket versions usually come in a hot blend or a milder version.
I use this spice mix rarely, as I tend to use more of the bafat, garam masala (recipe coming soon), biriyani and chole mixes. However, once in a while I use it for some dishes, like a cauliflower stir fry or a Indian style stew. So it was not high on my list of spice mixes to buy, and so I didn't have any in my cupboard.
That said, today things changed a bit. Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes is hosting a slow cooker challenge, and I wanted to make this delicious chickpea, squash and potato stew. But the recipe I looked at had Madras Curry Powder in it. And it was the main seasoning, so I was left in a bit of a ... errr... stew, as I didn't have any, and didn't want to go out in -17 C.
Then I thought, but why not try and make it myself? So I looked up the ingredient list of several big brands, and some online food sites and came up with this version. The reason I didn't follow any recipe to the letter is because when I make spice mixes, I like to go with a more personal feel. I tend to make mixes up by smelling the various spices as they are roasting, which gives me an indication of if I need to add more of a certain spice or not. I know this sounds silly, but its the way I cook. As you will too, once you cook Indian food more and more often.
Anyway, my nose didn't let me down this time, and I must admit that this curry powder turned out pretty well, so I guess that's another mix to cross of the bought list :-) As I don't use the mix very often, the recipe below only makes around 1/2 cup, so increase the quantities of spices if you want to make a bigger batch. It stores very well in a airtight bottle or tin, in a cool, dark place.
2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
Around 4 inches of cassia bark or cinnamon stick
10 whole cardamom pods
1 tbsp fenugreek
1 tsp whole black pepper
5 - 6 long red mild chillies (Kashmiri chillies)
2 sprigs fresh or dried curry leaves (roughly 12 - 14 individual leaves)
2 tbsp ground turmeric
Toss together the coriander, cumin, cassia bark, cardamoms, fenugreek, black pepper and red chillies, one by one, in hot, heavy pan for between 30 seconds - 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove spices to a bowl, and let cool.
In the same pan, toss in the curry leaves, until they crisp up, and start turning brown around the edges. You can skip this step if you're using dried curry leaves. Place the cooled spices in a spice grinder.
Add the ground turmeric to the grinder, and blend all the spices to a fine powder, opening the mixer and stirring a couple times to ensure a smooth mix.
Take out and store in an airtight tin or bottle.
Note: Turmeric and this spice mix stain clothes and white equipment, so take appropriate care while making the mix.