Curry Powder Is Not Indian

There is no such thing as Curry powder.


In Hindi, the word “Masala” means spice. I still remember the yellow looking huge chunks of cauliflower florets staring at me in my college cafeteria in New York. I wondered what my grandmother would have said. She taught me in my middle school how to precisely cut the florets and steam them just crispy enough, and then to sauté them with the basic spice mix from her masala dabba, a stainless steel Indian spice box.

I taught basic Indian cooking techniques, traditional dishes, using the spices and breaking the stereotype of Indian cuisine for 8 years now. My first class is always about spice basics. My favorite part of the class how students look at me when I break it to them that there is no such thing as Curry Powder in India. It's not even an Indian word. It's a term used for a type of aromatic leaf that grows on a giant tree. It’s tropical in nature and used for tempering in South Indian dishes. It’s sold as expensive valuable commodity in United States of America. 

Below are the 4 basic spice mixes you’ll see in most Indian households. The other spices are covered under Garam masala (literally translated to hot spice)

Masala 1 - Red Chili Powder- Use Kashmiri red chili powder for a bright vibrant color and less heat. 

Masala 2.- Turmeric powder- Any good brand should have mustardy appearance. If the turmeric stains your dishes real yellow then they are tainted with yellow dye. 

Masala 3. - Fenugreek Leaves- Has a slightly bitter taste, mild aroma, with a nutty aroma, which many call a cross between celery and maple.

Masala 4- Coriander and Cumin Powder- These two make the basic Indian spice rub that most of the Indian homes and kitchen use. Just having these two is as good as an Indian  "Curry Powder". To make your own just use 1 part of Coriander powder+ 1/2 part of Cumin powder. 

-Smita Chutke