Roast Grind and Shake how to make your own curry powder

It’s ever so easy – Measure, Roast, Grind and Shake – sounds like a dance doesn’t it! The Curry dance, or maybe the Masala Dance…….. ok I’ll stop there!

I love curry and I know I’m not alone, did you know that Chicken Tikka Masala is the nation’s favourite dish? Well it does depend on who you ask, but it’s definitely popular.

And there’s nothing better than homemade curry, the flavours are a delight, be it warming, spicy, pungent, sour – you name it the flavour combinations are seemingly endless.

In the background of great curries is a great curry powder. And we’ll be needing some homemade curry powder for the next couple of dishes that I make for me and the blogg. So what better than to make your own curry powder?

The beauty of making your own is that you get to choose the proportion of ingredients – more or less cumin, a touch of fennel, you decide! A lot of preprepared curry powders are full of colourings with the bulk of the mix made up of the cheaper spices like corriander. Besides, the freshness of the powder is undoubted, think about it, how old is that jar of powder that is stuck at the back of the cupboard?

And once you have made it, you will realise how easy it is and how versatile – sprinkle a bit on some fish with a squeeze of lemon before you grill or fry it, marinate some chicken or prawns, spice up some lentils or veggies . The flavours are intense and rich, subtle and well just splendid!

My first ever curry powders were based on Madhur Jaffrey’s recipes, and that’s where I’ll go to for this mix, but there are so many great recipes, check out Peri’s Spice Ladle, and you’ll see what I mean!

What do you need to make your own curry powder? A selection of whole dried spices, a small frying pan and a grinder or pestle and mortar. It really couldn’t be simpler !

A word about the chillies, I’ve used whole dried chillies, plural. If you aren’t a fan of hot then reduce the amount to 1 whole chilli, or if in doubt leave it out altogether; remember you can always add heat, you can’t take it away!

Curry Powder Recipe

Based on an original recipe by Madhur Jaffrey

Makes about 12 heaped teaspoons of curry powder

  • 2 tbls coriander seeds
  • 1 tbls cumin seeds
  • 1- 2  tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • small stick of cinnamon
  • 3 dried chillies
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

Remember – Measure, Roast, Grind and Shake? Well you’ve done the Measuring now it’s time to Roast, Grind and Shake

Using a small frying pan (non-stick is good) warm it on the stove on a low heat,when warm add all the spices except the turmeric powder and gently warm the spices up. You will see the spices gradually change and darken in colour and the aroma from them will greet you as you shake the pan around and/or stir the spices around. This process takes about 5 minutes. You don’t want to burn the spices, just gently warm them through.

Empty the spices into a bowl and cool for a few minutes, now put them into a spice grinder/coffee grinder or a pestle and mortar and start grinding. You may have to do this in several batches depending on how big the grinder is or how well developed your arm muscles are! You are looking to create a fine powder.

When finely ground, put the mix into a clean dry jar, and add the turmeric. Put the lid on and shake it well. Label the jar and keep it, preferably, in a cool cupboard. It will keep well for months (if not longer), but ours doesn’t last that long!


    • My partner found it in a house he bought years ago, cleaned it up and here we are! Our friends daughter loves to grind spices, we put her on a stool and get her working 🙂

  • Like you Claire, I make my own curry powders…like you say, So easy and so good! Love your photos of your grinder! – and can’t wait to see what you’re cooking up for us curry-wise! The flavors of India are among my favorites!

          • Hi Claire – I blogged at least one. But! I have this wonderful resource “Herbs & Spices – the cook’s reference” – in it are “recipes” for various spice mixtures from all over the world. I’m going to list the ones from India for you. Honestly, if any of them intrigue you, I’d be happy to scan or type out and then email to you. (I would need you to give me your email in that case.) So, here’s the list, starting with the curries: Tamil curry powder, Sri Lankan curry powder, Malay curry powder, Malay curry paste. And then there’s the masalas: Standard garam masala (with 4 variations), plus Aromatic garam masala, Bombay masala, Tandoori masala, masala for fish, Massale’, – and then there’s these: Dhana jeera powder, Sambhar powder, Bengali panch phoron. It’s 3 pages worth in this book and I’d be happy to send. Included with each recipe are its standard uses. Now, my husband and I are off with our son for some really good local Indian food. 🙂 (I’ll hunt up the curry powder recipes on my blog and get back to you with those too.)

    • you know I love your world Uru – be it cakes and all things sweet or a bloody good indian meal 🙂 Hope you have a great weekend my friend !

  • We are rather the shy type of curry eaters, never too much heat is involved. I do like the idea of having enough of a curry spice blend on hand to make up dinner in a hurry. A stellar recipe Claire!

    • Thank you – I’ve been meaning to do this post for AGES, but somehow never got round to it. All you need to do deb is reduce the chillies, or even take them out altogether

  • OMG [sorry 😉 !], but I don’t know where my copy of the lady’s book is and yes, thank you for the recipe: I normally start all my curries from scratch, but it will be delightful again to have a readymade mix to use in a hurry! Mortar and pestle: here I come 🙂 !

    • I love her book, World Vegetarian, so many great recipe ideas.
      I know what you mean about making each curry individually, but I have a couple of recipes that call for a pre-prepared powder and this is one of my favourites 🙂

  • All right, Claire. You’re on. I’ve got just about all of the spices required and some dried chilis from Basilicata looking for something to do. All I need is some fennel seeds and a good recipe. I’ll get the fennel seeds soon enough. When will you be posting a recipe? 🙂

    • Don’t worry too much about the fennel John, I make the powder up using what I have, and to be honest each time it does vary! But if you do buy the fennel seeds, remember the fennel, lemon and vodka recipe 😉
      And soon, my friend, soon !!

  • THis is just great! I’m really delighted to give this a try! I love a good curry powder but never thought about fillers or inferior ingredients. You add chilies…do you have favorites?

    • To be honest Debra I just used shop bought red dried chillies…… the homegrown ones are frozen fresh. So these dried ones do have a real kick!!!

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  • I have never made curry powder, but have heard that fresh homemade is the only way to go. I love curries and mostly eat them out in restaurants, but maybe I will attempt a recipe soon using your curry powder recipe. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • I’d definitely recommend trying your own at home Teresa, I generally don’t use mixes as I add the flavours and spices in separately but a few recipes I do call for a mix, an dthis is a favourite. I hope you get to try it soon 🙂

  • Claire, sorry there was no more room to add on to our last comment string, so I’m starting a new one. 🙂 Here’s a spice blend you might like too (this one Moroccan)
    And here’s the link for the curry on my site…it’s actually different than the others I was just telling you about. But I use it all the time and love it. It has no turmeric, but you could always add.
    Hope that helps!

  • Wonderful curry powder recipe, Claire (& beautiful spice grinder)…the joy of homemade freshly roasted and ground spices can’t be beat!! And I’d make them fresh for every Indian meal, like my granny, if only I had the time to:) Thanks for the link to the spice article on our blog…you’ll be amazed at the range of curry masala blends-dry &wet from across India….add the complexities of Thai, Malay and Indonesian curry blends…and its a curry smorgasbord like none other!

    • a pleasure to link back to you, I think your blog is fab! I love spice blends and make them a lot, especialy Thai or indonesian, so flavourful. I only use a “curry mix” for specific dishes, one of which I need to sort the photos and words for, but like you realise we can’t all be like your Granny and prepare them fresh each time, I wish I could though!!

  • What an excellent idea, Claire! I love your grinder! I have a mortar and pestle.. but it sometimes leaves little “twiggy” things that a grinder would take care of, lol! I think I get more confused by the names.. like the difference between a masala and a curry, or is a curry a masala? Sigh, I need to brush up on these sorts of things!! xx

    • Oooph don’t ask me, I just cook them 🙂 Curry is an Anglo word, used to describe, often a “wet” spicy dish, masala means mix as in spices, and then there are dry mixes, wet mixes and fresh mixes (say fresh ginger and garlic, or coconut or tamarind water) ….. I think I better stop there before I get in a mix up 🙂

  • My adviser in graduate school always brought the best curry dishes to parties–he had done his fieldwork in India. Now I am wondering if he (or his wife) made the curry powder. I’ll bet that smells amazing when you roast it!

    • Quite likely or they would have made alot of dishes where individual ingredients were added, one at a time – like starting off with mustard seeds, then adding onions and garlic and later on, some corriander – building up the flavours

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