Do you enjoy curry and find yourself wondering what spices in curry that give it its distinct flavor? Or you're in the process of buying ingredients for curry to make your own. This guide will definitely help you to proceed further in your culinary journey.
I've always heard people say that making curry at home is a difficult task, and often they say that too many ingredients are required to make curry or curry powder.
Wait… Let me tell you, making a rich, flavorful curry is simpler than you think.
It's all about understanding the ingredients, particularly the spices, used in curry. In this guide, we will discuss the 10 most important spices that make curry-flavorful and appetizing.
Make a note that each one of the ingredients adds a unique flavor to the curry, which we all love.
Turmeric is usually available as a powder, sourced from dried roots. And one of the primary and staple ingredients that’s required is making a curry.
Turmeric has a subtle flavor. While it doesn't significantly influence the overall taste, it lends a beautiful golden hue that enhances the dish's visual appeal.
Whether you're making a spicy vindaloo or a chicken curry-Madurai style, turmeric is a must-have ingredient.
When to add? It's typically added during the initial stages of cooking or during the sautéing process.
How much to add? A quarter to half a teaspoon of turmeric powder is sufficient for a curry serving four people.
Where to get? Make sure to purchase from reliable sources to guarantee good quality. You can find turmeric powder in Indian stores, Asian stores, and online. Costco also is another store to find the good quality of turmeric.
Cumin creates a unique, complex taste that makes a curry more aromatic and appetizing. This aromatic spice is used in both seed and ground form.
When to add? These seeds are typically added at the beginning of the cooking process, usually tempered in hot oil to unlock their maximum flavor. On the other hand, ground cumin is often incorporated during the final stages of preparing a curry.
How much to add? Half a teaspoon to 1 teaspoon would be the optimal amount for a curry for 4 servings.
Where to get? Indian stores, Asian stores, online stores, or sometimes your local stores carry them too. The local stores may carry them in the International or condiments aisle.
It's an essential component in curry recipes, providing an authentic taste and luscious texture.
Coriander is primarily used in three forms: fresh leaves for garnishing, whole seeds for crafting spice blends, and ground coriander for a bold, distinctive flavor. Ground coriander seeds provide the consistency and the body to the gravy.
When to add? Ground coriander, added early in the cooking process, slowly releases its warm, earthy flavors.
Fresh coriander leaves are used in the final stages of cooking, typically as a garnish. This is good to substitute with cilantro.
And coriander seeds are added after roasting when making homemade curry powder.
How much to add? Half a teaspoon to three teaspoons coriander powder would be the ideal amount for a curry. The measurement varies depending on the consistency and the type of the curry.
Where to get? All the three forms-seeds, leaves, powder- are available in your local Indian, Asian, or online stores. The leading grocery stores may carry coriander in the international section.
Cardamom, considered one of the world's most expensive spices, provides a delicate yet potent flavor profile to the curries. With its unique blend of sweet and spicy notes, it adds a depth of flavor that enhances the curry in flavor wise and in taste wise..
Cardamom looks like small pods packed with seeds. Both the seeds and the skin carry an intense flavor.
You can use cardamom in three forms: whole, crushed, or powdered.
When to add? I personally recommend using it whole during the sautéing process, as sauteing in oil releases its wholesome flavors optimally. While crushed or powdered cardamom can overpower other ingredients.
How much needed? For serving four people, one or four cardamom pods should suffice. To extract its strong flavors, consider gently crushing the pods before use.
Where to get. Like above spices this one is also good to sourced in Indian, Asian, or online stores. And if you are lucky, your leading grocery stores may have stocked it too.
Cloves, these small yet aromatic dried flower buds, are the guaranteed flavor enhancers. With their intense, pungent taste-they play a crucial role in determining the curry's depth of flavor. One of the popular ingredients throughout the world - you'll also find them in various spice blends.
When to add? Typically, they're added during the initial cooking stages. As the cloves sizzled in the warm oil releases a unique flavor that makes the curry's tastes distinctive.
How much to add? When making a meat curry for four, five cloves would be sufficient. For a vegetable curry(like this potato peas curry, vegetable jalfrezi) , one or two cloves are enough to elevate the taste without overshadowing other ingredients. Remember, even a single clove can have a significant impact, so use them sparingly.
Where to get? In the United States, these are rare to find in many grocery stores. However, these are available in the local Indian stores, Asian, middle eastern, African stores. And Online stores are more convenient.
Mustard seeds are a very common and staple ingredient in Indian cooking. They add a distinctive tanginess and depth to curries. Mustard seeds are usually heated along with oil to release their maximum aroma and pungency in the curry.
There are two main types of mustard seeds used in Indian cooking: black and yellow. Black mustard seeds are widely used- have a bolder and more intense flavor compared to the yellow ones.
When to add? When using mustard seeds, they are usually allowed to crackle and pop in hot oil, which helps to unlock their maximum flavors. This process is known as tempering and is a common technique used in making flavorful curries.
How much needed? Generally, half to one teaspoon of mustard seeds would be required for making a curry for four servings. Make a note that this amount varies according to the personal preference and to the cuisines you follow.
Where to get? This is also hard to find in regular stores or Asian stores. Inspite, get them from Indian stores or online stores.
Fenugreek is also an important staple condiment, often used alongside mustard seeds. It provides a distinct and unforgettable flavor that has no close substitutes to recommend.
These tastes are slightly sweet with the unique bitterness. This property enhances the complexity of dishes.
It can be used in the form of seeds, as powder, or in the form of dried leaves.
When to add? Fenugreek seeds are added in the beginning of the cooking process. Usually sizzled in the cooking oil to enhance its flavor. It is often combined with other spices like mustard seeds and cumin seeds.
And the fenugreek leaves are typically added towards the end of the cooking process. Adding fenugreek leaves at this stage gives a delightful change to the dish, enriching its flavors.
How much needed? Like other Indian spices, fenugreek is packed with flavors, so a little goes a long way. For a serving of curry for 4 people, using a quarter to half a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds is sufficient.
If using dried fenugreek leaves, half a tablespoon to 1 tablespoon should be enough, depending on the desired intensity of flavors.
Where to find? These are hard to find other than the Indian stores and online stores.
Red Chili powder
First and foremost, this is the primary source responsible for the spiciness in the dish. Red chili powder is mentioned in any curry recipe often confused with Mixican’s chili powder-blend of ripe peppers and spices. Whereas red chili powder is made solely with ripen cayenne pepper.
So when making curry, it's essential to check the ingredient list on the package. Ensure that it contains only chili peppers. This makes the curry prominent with authentic taste and flavors.
Chili powder(like this mango chili powder) adds both heat and a rich red color to curries.
When to add? It's recommended to add chili powder at the beginning of the cooking process, along with other ingredients. If you want to increase the heat, it's not advisable to add it at the final stages of cooking. Allowing it to cook and blend with the other curry ingredients ensures a well-incorporated flavor. Adding chili powder towards the end of cooking may not distribute the heat evenly throughout the dish.
How much needed? Adjust the quantity of chili powder according to your preferred level of heat tolerance. Typically, for a serving of curry, using half a teaspoon to ¾ teaspoon of chili powder is sufficient to add a kick of heat.
Where to get? It’s easier to get from Indian stores and online stores.
Cinnamon adds a distinctive and aromatic nature to not only Indian curries but cuisines all around the world. It provides a subtle sweetness and a delightful flavor that contributes to the overall richness of dishes.
Cinnamon is actually the bark of a tree and is typically added in the form of whole sticks or ground powder.
Slow cooking allows for the release of all the natural flavors of cinnamon in a most elegant way.
When to add? Cinnamon is usually added during the initial stages of cooking. While making the curry, cinnamon sticks are commonly used and gently simmered in oil over low heat to infuse the dish with their flavors(you can find this in Madras lentils recipe).
How much needed? For making a curry to serve the people of four, 2-3 inches long cinnamon would be the ideal quantity.
Where to get? Very to find in leading grocery stores, Indian, middle eastern stores. And this online store is the most convenient.
Ginger and garlic
The combo of ginger and garlic is unbeatable. And always added in their fresh form. Both ingredients, when combined together, provide a pungent and savory flavor. They are typically added to the spicy curry grating or crushed.
Ginger and garlic are essential ingredients that bring out the flavors in a recipe. They are particularly important when making meat-based curries.
When combined with other ingredients, such as cinnamon and various spices, ginger and garlic contribute wholesome flavors to the curry.
When to add? Most recipes call for ginger and garlic to be finely minced or crushed and then sautéed along with onions in hot oil. This process allows the flavors to infuse evenly throughout the dish.
Where to get? You get them as readymade from the Indian stores. Or on the other hand, make your own ginger garlic paste but grounding them both in the mortar and pestle or spice blender.