Curry powder in the form that is known in the west was invented in Madras,
to be exported to England for the use by the English who had become addicted to curries.
In India , spices are used in highly individual way, and daughters learn
how to use them by observing their mothers and grand mothers.
Each region of India and
each sub-cuisine has its own palette of spices. Professional cooks in India have a great
understanding of the role,possible uses and the limitations of each spice.
For example pepper is used extensively in Kerla
where it grows and the essence of 'keora' is extensively used in the Lucknowi
Incidently, contrary to a wildely held belief, various forms of curry powder
do feature in the
traditional Indian cooking.Throughout the western part of Maharashtra,
masala powder is
ground and kept for later use, though the composition of the masala varies.
The East Indian
christian community of Bombay makes a curry powder comprising of 30 spices,
Unlike commercial curry powders, it resolves the problem
of some spices getting
cooked while others remain under-cooked, because each spice is roasted
different requisite lengths of time before grinding. They make it just
before the hot season
and store it, tightly packed in the long green bottles, for a whole year.
For this reason it is
called the "bottled masala", although infact it is a 'curry powder'. Similarly
in March and April
the chettiars of Tamil Nadu sun dry several spices, and onions as well,
and make little marble
sized balls of curry powder rolled with oil which they also store for the
entire year. These are
called kaarivadagam, the addition of oil helps them keep
it for a long time.
By and large, however, spices are used individually in the Indian cooking.
spices is a very important part of the curry making process. If the spices
are not ground
properly the curry will have neither the correct texture nor the taste.
However these days
, grinding the spices is not a very known chore because the groung masalas
available in the stores and are quite handy.
However, one masala is worth mentioning here is the garam masala, which
has a distinct
aroma and imparts a distinct flavor to the dish is it is ground fresh and
we will study a little
bit of this particular 'melange' of spices.
As mentioned above, the garam masala contributes to both flavor and aroma.
'heating' or 'hot' and masala of course refers to the spices.So, garam
masala is a mixture of
those spices which create heat in the body- cinnamon, cloves, pepper and
Nowadays, cooling spices like green cardamom and tej patta or saunf
are also added to the
Garam Masala.Some of the chefs add rose petals to it. Check out
for a few kinds of Garam Masalas we have on this site.
Garam Masala is mainly used in meat and rice dishes, rarely in fish and
Garam masala should be stored air tight in and can be kept for 6
months or so.