When someone mentions curry powder, I think of Indian food.
We need to think again.
Most Indian cooks create their own curry-powder-like blends, portioning out their favorite spices from a masala dabba, adjusting the balance to the needs of a particular recipe. There's no one "curry powder" in Indian cooking. The curry powder we buy -- the "convenience" blend from the supermarket or spice merchant -- has no place in most Indian kitchens.
Many cuisines incorporate the component flavors of curry powder into their own dishes; Indian spices traveled with merchant ships to the Caribbean, Europe, South Pacific, Japan and China. And eventually they made their way to my own kitchen, where both sweet and hot curry powders have a place on the spice rack.
What is curry powder?
A blend of spices, including turmeric, Moroccan coriander, cumin, ginger, fenugreek, nutmeg, fennel, cinnamon, white pepper, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, and cayenne red pepper.
How/where to store:
In a tin with a tight-fitting lid, on the spice rack; or in the freezer, for up to one year.
More facts about curry powder, and ingredient photos, in The Perfect Pantry:
Curry powder (Recipe: curried squash, apple and pear soup)
Stir-fried curried beef with tomatoes and peas
Another wonderful recipe very slightly adapted from Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, by Grace Young. I had some lean sirloin to use up, and I cut it into small dice. Flank steak is the better choice, and with peas in the freezer and a full complement of Asian condiments, the meat and tomato are all you need to purchase for this recipe. Serves 2-3 as a main dish with rice, or 4 as part of a multi-course meal.
12-16 oz lean flank steak
1 Tbsp finely minced ginger root
1-1/2 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1-1/4 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp + 1 Tbsp shao hsing wine
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp + 1 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil (I use canola oil)
1/3 cup chicken broth or water
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp hot or sweet curry powder
1 medium ripe tomato, cut into chunks or wedges
3/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 tsp sugar
Cut the beef with the grain into 2-inch wide strips, then cut each strip across the grain into 1/4-in-thick slices. In a medium bowl, combine the beef, ginger, soy sauce, cornstarch, 1 tsp shao hsing wine, 1/4 tsp salt, and the black pepper. Stir to combine. Add 1 tsp of the oil, stir, and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the broth or water, dark soy, and the remaining 1 Tbsp shao hsing wine.
Heat a large flat-bottomed wok or skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, swirl in the remaining 1 Tbsp oil, add the red onions and garlic, and stir-fry for 30 seconds or until the onion is wilted. Push the onions and garlic to the sides of the wok, and add the meat in the center. Spread the meat to a single layer, and let it sit, undisturbed, for 1 minute, until it begins to sear.
Sprinkle on the curry powder, then stir-fry 30 seconds or until the beef is lightly browned all over but not cooked through. Add the tomatoes and peas, sprinkle on the sugar and the remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and stir-fry 30 seconds or until well combined. Swirl the broth mixture into the wok and stir-fry another 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the beef is just cooked through and the sauce is slightly thickened.
Serve hot, over rice.
Other recipes that use curry powder:
Orange lentil soup with curry powder and spinach, from Avenue Food
Japanese dry curry with soybeans or tempeh, from Just Bento
Trinidadian chicken curry, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Curry carrot ice cream, from Not Eating Out in New York
Singapore rice noodles, from Tigers & Strawberries
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