Magical Spice Mix: Madras Curry Powder

madras curry powder

For the longest time, I used to buy my curry powder at the Indian grocery store.  Never from a regular grocery store, because who knows how long those spices has been sitting on the shelves. You always want to buy your spices from a spot that churns through them very quickly.  Plus, spices are always less expensive at ethnic stores.  And the spice mixes are often more authentic and tastier (in my opinion) at the ethnic markets.  However, recently, I started making my own Madras Curry Powder and now even the stuff from the Indian grocery store isn’t good enough.

The recipes for Madras curry powder are countless, this is just a version that we love. If you do not fancy any particular spice, you can reduce the amount you add or even leave it out. Looking for a milder curry powder, then omit the cayenne or dried red chilies. We love this curry powder in coconut curries made with vegetables, shrimp or fish. It is also fabulous with roasted chicken drumsticks with carrots for an easy dinner. You can add it to soups, a variety of roasted vegetables (particularly good with cauliflower) or even a make a curried chicken salad with it.

As it gets cooler and fall turns into winter, this spice mix will warm your insides and dishes made with it will become the comfort food you crave.  The spice mix also makes a lovely holiday or teacher gift.  The kids will love working with you to make this lovely spice mix.  And it is a neat way to introduce them to new flavors and spices.  My little one can now make this all by herself.  Or get together with a friend, buy the spices from an ethnic store and share the spice mix to reduce the cost of having to buy so many spices.  Though, I can almost guarantee that once you try this curry powder, you will be making it over and over again.

Madras Curry Powder (as featured in the San Jose Mercury)

Yield: approximately 1 cup


  • 6 Tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 5 Tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper or 4-5 dried red chilies
  • 1 Tbsp. turmeric
  • ½ tbsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp. dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
  • 1 tsp. cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp. cloves


  1. Grind the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek leaves and cloves to a fine powder.  You can toast these spices for about 30-60 seconds before grinding, but if they are fresh there is no need to do this.  If using dried red chilies, grind them too.
  2. Stir in the turmeric, cayenne pepper (unless using dried chilies) and cardamom powder
  3. Store in a jar at room temperature; this spice mix will stay good for 6 months, but will lose flavor over time

Read this Serious Eats article (“Hey Chef, What Can I do with Curry Powder?”) for some ideas on what some chefs do with curry powder.  Over the years we have featured some recipes with curry powder and this “new”, “home-made” curry powder may warrant a revisiting of some of those recipes.


One thought on “Magical Spice Mix: Madras Curry Powder

  1. I made my own curry powder as well. But I think it is nearly finish. Glad you give me another curry powder idea for my next experiment. I will try this out and see which one I like the most. Thanks! 🙂

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