Madras Curry Powder

20 Feb

madras curry powder

The more I cook, the more I love customizing the dishes I make. And one of my favorite ways to customize my food is by making my own spice mixes. Madras curry powder is the perfect example for this. No two versions of this South Indian blend are alike; every brand, every family, every person adjusts the spices to their liking. Making your own curry powder gives you the opportunity to get exactly the combination of flavors you want (not to mention the amazing difference using freshly ground spices makes). My personal blend is heavy on coriander and cumin with warmth from curry leaves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. But everything here can be easily adjusted, so soon you can have your own perfect curry powder. And after you have your own blend, come back to see the two simple recipes I’ll be posting on Wednesday and Friday that really showcase the curry powder’s flavor.

Madras Curry Powder (adapted from Food, Football, and a Baby)
Yield: approximately 1 cup


  • 6 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3 3″ sticks cinnamon, broken into pieces
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cardamom seeds (from 25 – 30 whole pods)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp mustard seeds*
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 4 – 5 dried red chilies
  • 3 sprigs curry leaves (18 – 24 leaves)**
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

*Yellow or brown are both okay.
**Curry leaves have an unusual flavor and there is really no substitute; you should be able to find them at an Indian market. Any leftover leaves will freeze very well.


  1. Heat a non-stick or cast iron pan over medium high heat, then toast, one at a time, 6 Tbsp coriander seeds, 4 1/2 Tbsp cumin seeds, 3 3″ sticks cinnamon, broken into pieces, 1 1/2 Tbsp cardamom seeds (from 25 – 30 whole pods), 1 1/2 Tbsp fenugreek seeds, 1 1/2 Tbsp mustard seeds, 1 1/2 Tbsp black peppercorns, 4 – 5 dried red chilies, and 3 sprigs curry leaves (18 – 24 leaves). Toast each spice until fragrant, about 60 seconds, then remove to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
  2. Grind the toasted spices to a fine powder (or your desired consistency).
  3. Stir in 1 Tbsp turmeric and 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg. Store in a jar at room temperature; this spice mix will stay good for 6 months but will decrease in flavor with time.

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8 Responses to “Madras Curry Powder”

  1. Adam March 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    This is perfect, Claire! I’ll be making this if I can ever find curry leaves. I’ve always wanted to try making my own curry powder, since I’m all about from-scratch stuff.

    • Claire March 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

      If you have an Indian market around you, that’s your best bet for finding curry leaves; at the one near me, I was able to buy a whole lot (probably 15 or so sprigs) for quite cheap! Making your own spice mixes gives you a lot of extra flavor for only a little extra effort so it’s totally worth it!

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