Sometime I come across categorical statements declaring the 'curry powder' to be the innovation of creative British babus posted in India. I feel very sorry for such authors. They have absolutely no clue as to how diverse India is and how diverse the cuisine is. I am pretty sure that a north-Indian cook can very well assume it to be the fact. May be no 'Indian' ever made curry powder. But a south-Indian would rather jump into a well than accept the statement. We always had a variety of spice blends to make our life easy in the kitchen. It might have been that the recipe for such blends were not seriously published until after some Brit did. The turmeric based concotion that the standard curry powder is, on the other hand might just be a corrupt version of our own spice blends, that was mild enough to be on the bland British table.
My own grandmother had at least 3 spice blends - one the Huli Pudi, Tili Saaru Pudi and Palya pudi.I also have Rasam Pudi in my pantry. These apart from the assorted Chutney pudis!
My grandmother is an expert when it comes to spice blends. This last season, the batch she made turned out to be a spice-gold! Everyone is hoarding them. Mine own supplies reaching the bottom of the jar very soon, I reached out to several people in the family, to check if they have some to spare. Well, everyone is polite but firm in turning me down.May be I will have to make my own this later this season. I have made it before, and will make it once more. Hope next batch my grandmother turns out will be just as delicious and hopefully I should be getting my quota too.
Long long ago, many summers and springs ago, my grandmother spent a week with me at my place. I made sure that I get most of my recipes from her. She was younger then and she had the energy to show me her signature recipes. This one is also from that session. Most often than not all her measurements were in terms of 'paavu-ser' or even eye-balled. I kind of took to standardize it.
We will need,
Dried red chillies (any combination of Byadagi (for colour and flavour) and Guntur (for heat) chillies) ½ kg
Dhania ½ kg
Jeera 1.5 pav
Black pepper corns 1 chatak (about 12 grams)
Cinnamon 50 gms
Marti Moggu 2-3
Turmeric 1 chatak (about 12 grams)
Hing 1 chatak (about 12 grams)
Channa dal ½ pav (30 grams)
Urad Dal ½ pav (about 30 grams)
Fenugreek Seeds upto ½ pav (about 30 grams)
Mustard seeds upto ½ pav (about 30 grams)
Jaggery 1/2 Cup (crushed)
Curry leaves dried roasted 2 big bunches
Coarse sea salt a handful
- Toast all the ingredients except Jaggery and sea salt, one by one till fragrant and toasted. Remove and cool completely.
- In a clean dry grinder combine all the toasted spices, salt and Jaggery and pulse till smooth. Else it can be done at one of the flour mills. The flour mill version tends to be smoother because we do not have control over the texture. If the spices are milled at home, I did prefer the blend to be slightly coarse.
- Store in an air tight jar. The blend stays good for years! It can also be packed in multiple layers of plastic bags, tightly sealed and store in the crisper tray of refrigerator. I personally prefer to make smaller and more frequent batches of Huli Pudi.