Monday, July 6, 2015

Sri Lankan Roasted Curry Powder


Curry Powder!  Homemade curry powder is amazingly fragrant and full of flavor.  I know that store bought curry powder is so convenient and I definitely turn to it when I am rushing about cooking for my family, but it never has flavor punch freshly made curry powder does.

Here's another idea to think about when it comes to store bought bags of curry powder... what's in it?  It's all ground up and you just have to trust that it's all quality ingredients. The fact is you really don't know when you buy a bag off the shelf what you are truly getting in it.   When you take the time to buy all your ingredients and roast them yourself... you know exactly what you are getting when you make your own curry powder. 

I have been waiting a long time to make my mother's curry powder.  The problem is you need to make it during the warmer months of the year since roasting and toasting those spices can really overpower your house with the fragrance of the spices.  Making a single serving of curry powder for a particular dish is not strong smelling, but when you make a big batch of curry powder....let's just say, I would definitely not recommend making it in the dead of winter when everything is closed off and you can't even crack open a window to air out your house.

When I was a kid, my mother would actually go as far as to roast her ingredients and grind everything outside on our patio because my father was so picky about curry smells in our house.  The funny thing is my husband, who is American, loves the smell of curry.  At the end of the day, the aroma of the toasted spices may be a bit strong, but it also means great flavor for all those future curry dishes!
I actually cut down this recipe to one quarter of the amount that I made with my mother.  So if you look at my photos you may see a lot more ingredients and quantity reflected.  I made enough to last me until next summer.  We cook curry a lot so if I was going to do this, I wanted to go big and make a lot.  

I decided it would be best to share a more manageable amount for you to try out the first time around .  Once you see how good this turns out... you may just double or triple the recipe too.

Now my mother's recipe is based on the curry powder her mother taught her to make.  I was surprised when she told me that she put fresh ginger and garlic into the recipe.  So I had to figure out a way to dehydrate these ingredients to powder them. My method actually took two days to do since I took the time to dehydrate the ginger and garlic in the oven the night before. Actually, dehydrating the ginger and garlic was so easy.  I simply sliced both thinly and set it in the oven for three hours.  That was basically the work done the night before.  I really was impressed that I dehydrated the ginger and garlic on my own since my mother usually does it over the stove-top babysitting it the entire time. My method was so easy that I was able kick back and only check on it a couple of times in those three hours.   The rest of the process only took about 30-45 minutes to roast the rest of the spices on day two.  So, really it's not a big deal to make your own curry powder at all.

At the end of the day, I am thrilled with this gorgeous curry powder that I made with my own hands (with the help of my mother of course!)    So, make your own curry powder... you may never (well almost never) go back to store bought. 

PS... I already cooked a curry using my curry powder... come back on Wednesday to check it out. 


 Dry Ingredients:
4oz Coriander Seeds
2oz Fennel Seeds 
2oz Cumin Seeds 
2oz dry White Rice 
1/2oz Fenugreek seeds
1/2oz Black pepper 
1oz Cinnamon Stick
1/4oz Cloves
1/4 oz Cardamoms 
1/2oz Mustard Seeds 

Fresh Ingredients:
1oz sliced Ginger
10 large cloves Garlic
2 long pieces of Pandan leaf (rampe)
small stalk Lemongrass cut finely
handful sprigs Curry Leaves without stems

Step 1:The night before dry the garlic and ginger in the oven. By slicing both very finely (**see note) and placing it on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Heat oven to 150F degrees and bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Toss every hour. Turn oven off and allow dried ginger and garlic to cool in the oven overnight. 
Note: I used a mandolin slicer..carefully use this to slice the ingredients so not to cut yourself or you can simply finely chop both ingredients

Step 2:  Measure and gather all ingredients.  Heat a large pan (I used a large stainless steal wok) on medium low heat.  First start out by roasting the coriander seeds.  Stir continuously and toss seeds as they roast to a light brown color (do not burn).  Then add the fennel seeds to the roasting coriander seeds and continue to roast and stir both seeds.  Finally add the cumin seeds and roast all three seeds until they are toasted and fragrant.  Pictures 1, 2 and 3 in the diagram below.  Once these three ingredients are properly roasted and fragrant, transfer to a baking sheet or another pan to cool off. 

Step 3.  Toast and dry out the fresh lemongrass on medium low heat.  Then add the pandan leaves and curry leaves. Once they all look and feel dry to the touch, add the white rice and roast for another few minutes. Start roasting the white rice until it's a light golden color. Remember to continue to stir and toss ingredients so they do not burn.  Pictures 4, 5 and 6 in the diagram below.

Step 4: Next add the fenugreek seeds, black pepper, cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon stick (break these up as much as possible into small pieces first) to the dried rice mixture.  Once the rice is a golden brown color and the other ingredients have toasted turn stove off and add the mustard seeds and toss well.  The heat for the other ingredients will toast the mustard seeds enough.  If you add the mustard seeds to a hot pan, they will pop all over and make a mess, so they are added last once the stove is off.    Pictures 7, 8 and 9 in the diagram.

Finally transfer all the ingredients to a baking tray and allow it to all  cool off before grinding into a powder. Place in a spice grinder (or coffee grinder that you have designated for spices) and grind a little at a time.  Place ground curry powder into a dry airtight jar and place a cool dry place. This will last you a year.

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