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Making our own curry mix

Making our own curry mix

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  Recipes and homemade seasonings

Preparation of homemade (ground) curry

The use of spices in Hindu cuisine

Hindu cuisine is characterized, among other things, by the enormous amount of spices that are regularly present in the different dishes and recipes that are made, the most common being coriander seed, black, white or green peppers - from the same bush-, cumin, cardamom pods, both green and black, cloves, cinnamon bark, fenugreek, chili / cayenne, turmeric and ginger root, nutmeg, etc. .
 homemade curry mix
It's easy to prepare your own curry home

All these spices -and many others-, present in almost all the kitchens of Southeast Asia, are used depending on the tastes or criteria of the cook, depending on the dishes to be made: meats, vegetables, etc. the time of year, and of course, each person's personal preferences.

How are spices used in India?

Dried whole spices (generally seeds) are added at the beginning of cooking, before adding liquids, fats or other elements, in order to give them a little toasting that makes it easier to grind and also allows them to extract all the aromas of said spices. In order to save time and simplify cooking, it is common for some spice mixes to be made periodically, which are conveniently roasted and ground and stored in jars, ready to be used when cooking.

of spices is known as curry (curry powder) which is the name that we have given it in the West -and especially the British-. And by extension, curries are also all the meals made with said mixture of spices, of variable intensity, and where the yellow color of turmeric usually predominates. Of course, this simplification, no matter how many last names we put on it (red, green curry, Vindaloo, Madras ...) is grotesque if we think that we are talking about a country, India, where almost 1,400 million inhabitants live, spread over more than three million square kilometers. And that without taking into account all the other countries of Southeast Asia, with all its individuals.

Supermarket Curry

In recent years, the fondness and taste for curries and cuisine in Southeast Asia has grown in our country to the point that in any large area you can find a small bottle with yellow powders labeled curry. These spice mixtures contain some spices, but also flours (to give volume and -we suppose- make the mixture cheaper), colorants (to dye the flour) and salt (to compensate for the usual lack of aroma of these mixtures). It is also possible to find curry pastes, made in a similar way and whose quality also usually leaves a lot to be desired.

If you are going to cook a curry, we recommend that you look for a specialized establishment, and make sure that the curry you buy has, at least, only spices.

Preparing a curry like in India

On this occasion, we are not going to provide you with any curry recipe, but we want to go one step further and accompany you in making your own curry mix, in the most similar way as it is done in India. Even your kitchen will smell like the way a Hindu kitchen should smell.

Apart from the ingredients that we will indicate you right now, you will need a frying pan - better iron - and a grinder - our favorite option -. The grinder can also be replaced by a kitchen robot or even a good stone or steel mortar (wooden ones do not allow good grinding).
 Iron skillet  spice grinder

The Ingredients

Although the list of ingredients can be very long, and there are chefs who even talk about more than twenty ingredients, we are going to limit ourselves to the most common and that we can also find with relative ease. These would be (important, all the ingredients are used, whole, not ground, then you will see why):
Spices for the curry
Ingredients for our curry
  • cumin beans (1 tablespoon)
  • coriander seed (1 tablespoon)
  • whole cloves (1 teaspoon for dessert)
  • cinnamon (better from Ceylon than cassia) (a piece of about 3-4 cms)
  • green cardamom beans (1 tablespoon dessert - 8 or 9 berries)
  • black pepper (can also serve white) (1/2 tablespoon)
  • chilli or cayenne (one or two chillies is enough. If we don't want it very potent, just cut it in half and remove the seeds. If we like it stronger, we will add cayenne of the “bird's eye” type.) < / li>
And if you are lucky enough to find it, you can also add 1 teaspoon of dessert of:
  • fenugreek
  • mustard seed
  • black cardamom (3-4 pods)
Regarding the proportions of each ingredient, the amounts indicated above are only an orientation, there really is no single formula and it is almost impossible to find two equal recipes, since, as we said at the beginning, it depends on the tastes of each cook, the dish that it is going to be elaborated, etc. It is as if, for example, we asked a chef for the recipe for a sofrito: he will tell us that a sofrito has onion, garlic, tomato ... and perhaps pepper and he dispatched us with A: "Put the pan with oil on the fire, add the chopped ingredients and fry everything until it is ready." With these simple, are you scarce? Instructions can come out excellent stir-fries or real sloppies: from the way of cutting or chopping them (finer or thicker, by knife or in a mincer, etc.) to whether to do it over strong or soft heat, each decision will significantly influence the final result . In short, that the options are multiple and very diverse, and that only with 4 or 5 ingredients!

Well, exactly what happens with curry powder: that the possibilities offered by such preparation are also very diverse. So we are going to provide you, rather than a recipe to use, the guidelines so that you can make your own curry, and then you can adapt it to your tastes (if you do not like the nail, less nail, yes you want it more beast, because it falls bird's eye to sack ...).

What about ginger and turmeric?

Indeed, the previous list misses two of the required ingredients of all curries. This is because they are not incorporated together with the rest, but are added at the end. Then we will see why and in what way.

Our particular touch

Our recipe has two peculiarities that we want to comment on:
  1. We use cinnamon from Ceylon, not cassia or Saigon. The flavor is milder and also contains almost no coumarin.
  2. We add some bay leaves, which give it a very interesting touch.

Roasting

toasting the spices
It's easy to prepare your own curry home
One of the most important steps in the preparation is the toasting of the ingredients. This step serves a double purpose: on the one hand, by roasting the spices we will be able to extract all the aromas enclosed in the spices, and on the other, we will facilitate the subsequent grinding.
As we already told you, spices are not used ground but whole. Otherwise, by toasting them we would only get to burn them. To toast the spices, we will put a pan (better iron) on the fire, and heat it gently. It is not recommended to heat the pan too much, at a medium temperature it is enough. Here we will add the spices and we will be stirring this mixture to get them to roast evenly. It is important that they do not burn, since they would make the work bitter and spoil, we are only looking for a toast.

Grinding

curry mix homemade
We can grind it a lot or leave it something more natural
When everything is conveniently golden, we will remove it from the heat and let it cool before grinding it. For this, we can use a coffee grinder, a kitchen robot or if you want to sweat a little and in the process vent, you can choose to use a stone mortar. The final result will have a rustic and homemade appearance (see photo). Then you can pass it through a strainer or a sieve if you want it to be finer. We leave that to your choice.

What spices should we be careful with

Although we have said before that there are no established proportions, and that you can do it entirely to your liking, you should be careful with:
  • The nail. Its flavor and aromas are very intense, if we abuse it is easy for it to predominate over the other spices, ruining the curry.
  • The bird's eye cayenne. Very spicy. If we like the flavor it provides, but we don't want it too spicy, better opt for the chilli, which we can even remove the seeds to soften it even more.

Now yes, ginger and turmeric

Ginger and turmeric are not incorporated into the mix until now as they are not roasted. And at this point, we have several options:

  1. 1º - Add them ground to the previous mixture, to give a similar appearance in aroma and color to what we usually understand by curry. Thus, it would be ready for use in any recipe.
  2. 2nd - Add grated (either fresh or after rehydrating) or ground at the time of cooking, and as indicated by the recipe that we are going to make. This would be our recommendation.
mix of homemade curry
Just add the turmeric and ground ginger.


Tutoriales en YouTube:

Here we leave you some videos that we have considered interesting. You will see that in some of them they incorporate other ingredients such as fried onion, garlic or even star anise, as we have said, there is no single recipe:


Chef Vah Reh Vah - curry powder "In India we don't know what curry powder is..." . He uses onion and garlic.
Curry powder This is one of the best explained. It influences a lot on the importance of not going over temperature with spices so as not to ruin it. The only but is that it adds salt.
These two friends indicate the toasting time: 10 minutes. Although that is obviously going to depend on the fire ...
In our opinion, it exceeds toasting, but it provides some interesting concepts. And as always, turmeric and ginger at the end.
This video is in English and Hindi -mixing both languages-, and although the recipe does not convince us too much, it serves to illustrate that there are hundreds of different recipes.

Bibliografía:

Why curry is not Indian. http://www.desiblitz.com/content/why-curry-is-not-indian. Autor: Madhu Chopra
The concept of curry is a total lie. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/little-global-chefs/the-concept-of-curry-is-a_b_9300310.html
Artículo sobre el origen del curry: El origen del curry es inglés

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