CURRY POWDER ~ A British Invention

DIY Garam Masala? It’s worth the effort

Curry is synonymous with Indian food and maybe you could expect curry powder to be the key ingredient. But you would be mistaken! It is thought to be a British invention – the Brits probably took some Indian spice mixtures home with them hoping to recreate the dishes they had enjoyed in India.

This real deal is actually a mix of spices collectively known as Garam Masala. This mixture is added to some dishes along with other spices to enhance their flavour and aroma. While the basic ingredients used are the same, each Indian household created its own distinctive blend so that the end result will often differ from home to home.  Many authentic Indian restaurants create their own blends too .. noticable particularly in the flavours of milder curries

Most Indians still prefer to prepare their own Garam Masala just prior to cooking, using their own spices. I too prefer to make my own. It feels (and smells!) much more exciting to create your own version from scratch that you can then store for several months using you own preferred blend.

It is relatively easy but you do need a Pestle and Mortar:

You will need the following ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons anise seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 chip of nutmeg (about the size of a pea) or roughly grated, half a teaspoon.
  • 2 bay leaves


  • Creating the blend:
  1. Place the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, sesame seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, anise seeds, fennel seeds, nutmeg, and bay leaves into a skillet/heavy based frying pan, and cook over medium heat until fragrant and toasty. Keep the contents of the pan moving to prevent burning. This will take about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to heat proof plate to cool.
  2. Place the cooled spices into a spice mill, blender, or food processor. Grind into a fine powder.
  3. Store the seasoning in an airtight jar or container, making sure you label it! Also record the date you made it as it should be discarded beyond 6 months.
  4. Depending on your taste buds you can also add to the finished powder a teaspoon of ground ginger. You will also notice that the powder does not contain Chillies. These are much better added fresh at the time you use the powder and of course you can choose their heating content appropriately.