Do you have a favourite custom curry/masala mix?

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Do you have a favourite custom curry/masala mix?

Postby Paul B. » Sat Oct 21, 2006 11:48 am

A while back, I posted a query on favourite uses for curry and from the responses I learned that the typical "curry powder" that's sold in grocery stores is more of a catch-all/mass-produced thing and that traditionally, curry-oriented cultures see to it that a different spice mix is applied to each dish - there generally are no "one size fits all" curries per se.

Well, I think that my tastes are evolving. I started out making my curried mutton stew by using the supermarket mix, which contains undisclosed ingredients but which I suspect is essentially tumeric, cumin and some ground hot red pepper (though the heat is quite low). Lately, I've been using less of that prefabricated mix and opting to up the cumin, to the proportion of 50/50 (cumin & curry mix). I rather like the edge that cumin gives the mutton and the stew in general, though I love the bright neon-yellow colour imparted by the tumeric. I suspect that as time goes on, I will want to add other spices as well, though I'm not quite there yet.

A friend of mine once invited me over for traditional Jamaican oxtail, and in it he used a store-bought masala of some kind, which was more of a dull beige colour - wish I knew what the key ingredient in that was. I liked it in any case.
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Re: Do you have a favourite custom curry/masala mix?

Postby Paul B. » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:48 pm

Well, I finally found out that the spice my friend used for his oxtail recipe was Kissan Channa Masala. I couldn't remember that one for beans (or should that be for lentils?) ... Anyway, now I know what to look for (and this is what it looks like).
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Re: Do you have a favourite custom curry/masala mix?

Postby Stuart Yaniger » Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:25 am

A lot of small Indian grocers will carry their own proprietary blemds of garam masala for different dishes (including channa masala, a great garbanzo dish). They're usually inexpensive and worth experimenting with. There's about 22,464,738 of those groceries in the greater Toronto area...
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Re: Do you have a favourite custom curry/masala mix?

Postby Paul Winalski » Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:51 am

Yikes! Where to start??

In traditional Indian, Thai, Indonesian, Malay, and Burmese cooking, a "curry" doesn't just mean a saucy dish made with a pinch of a generic "curry powder" mixture. Each dish has its own fine-tuned spice mixture ("masala" is the Indian word). These usually involve freshly ground wet ingredients (such as onion, garlic, fresh ginger) as well as dried, powdered spices.

I posted a set of Thai curry paste mixtures to this forum. And also a southern Indian-style curried chicken recipe, with its component wet masala.

I do use generic western-style curry powder in various French and other European dishes that call for it. I also use it in some Chinese dishes that call for it (e.g., Cantonese curried meat pies). And in the marinade for Thai satay.

I also keep a jar of Patak's Hot Curry Paste on hand to whip up a quick Indian/Thai-style curry when I'm too rushed to do a proper job. Mince an onion and a few garlic cloves. Saute them in a bit of oil until transparent. Add a few tablespoons of Patak's Curry Paste and saute for about 30 seconds. Add diced chicken or other meat and saute until cooked on the surface. Add a can of coconut milk, diced veggies (I like eggplant, green pepper, and bamboo shoots), a squeeze of lime juice, then simmer until everything's tender and cooked through. Throw in some chopped basil and/or fish sauce towards the end for a more Thai cast to it.

I'll post another curry recipe or two when I get the chance. I made a very tasty Punjabi chicken and fresh fenugreek curry for dinner this past night.

-Paul W.
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Re: Do you have a favourite custom curry/masala mix?

Postby Paul B. » Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:14 pm

Paul, many thanks for that excellent post.

I have really had a surge of interest in Indian spices of late, although I know nothing about the cuisine as such. But I'm developing a liking for the strong spices and custom mixes are gaining my interest as well. The thing I mostly use a curry-type mix for is mutton or goat stew.
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Re: Do you have a favourite custom curry/masala mix?

Postby Bill Spohn » Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:25 pm

Garam masala is normally added at the end after cooking to adjust heat and add some flavour (and aromatic) interest.

The one I use is pretty typical - cardamom, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, fennel seed, black pepper and a huint of fenugreek (especially good with fish curry. I stay away from additional hot pepper and ginger.
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