Curry and Indian Spices


I had a friend ask me what Madras curry is and I should have explained more about what I was using in the Pork Chops with Apple Curry Sauce recipe.  Curry is a generic term used to mean a combination of spices that is used in many countries throughout the world.  The combination of spices can differ widely from various parts of the country like India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Thailand (the list goes on and on), and the recipes are often handed down and used within the family.  To make it even more confusing, curry can either be a combination of dry spices and herbs, or ground into a wet paste.  The spice mixture – Garam Masala is often the “generic” term for Indian curry.  Thai curry is usually made into a paste with grated lemongrass, ginger and garlic and usually always has fresh bird eye chili peppers and has a completely different flavor profile than Indian curry spice combinations.

Madras curry is the first curry I remember my mom and Granny using and it comes in a can made by Sun Brand.  This is years ago before Indian food was really available in the States.  The distinguishing feature about this particular store bought curry powder is that it doesn’t have a lot of heat and has a sweet note and which might be from the cloves and anise.  It also has some of the traditional Indian spices used like turmeric, coriander, cumin, fennel, chili and ginger and probably has a nostalgic taste for me too.  I like to make chicken salad and curry aioli with this particular brand.  I make my own garam masala and keep it in a spice jar to make Tandoori chicken and tikka masala dishes, but also bought a garam masala from my favorite Indian restaurant in Vancouver – Vij’s.  His restaurant inspires me to go home and cook some Indian food!  I have a coffee grinder that I use to grind spices and I like to know that the spices are toasted and ground fresh and it is easy to do.  It also allows you to control the amount of chili you use which can be too spicy for us sometimes.  Click here for the garam masala recipe….


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