Homemade Curry Powder-- Help!
I have been making my own curry powder of late yet cannot remove the bitterness whenever I use it in a dish. I combine turmeric, fenugreek, cumin, and a couple other things. I know it is recommended that the powder be cooked or heated before use but I am wondering if perhaps I am burning it? If so, it seems to turn bitter rather fast. Any other ideas as to why this might be happening? Thank you.
Have you tried just tasting the individual components, before they are mixed together? Some people find turmeric to be bitter, for example.
Five minutes should be long enough to roast the spices before letting it cool then storing...just long enough to darken slightly. Are you cooking it longer? Are your spices fresh? Do you grind the whole spices before cooking? Another thing I thought of was the ratio of ingredients. Too much of one and not enough of another.
Are you using whole spices or powdered? And are you getting the spices at the grocery store or an Indian market (or similar)? I find a lot of powdered spices to be very bitter, and the grocery store turmeric I've had has been DISGUSTINGLY bitter, like spit-it-out bitter.
I've had the best luck with buying the following spices whole for Indian food: bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, coriander. I buy powdered tumeric, but only from an Indian market, where I feel reasonably assured of its quality. I will usually toast the spices whole and either grind them dry in a coffee grinder or grind them wet (with the components of a sauce) in the blender.
Turmeric can definitely be a little bitter. And although there's different schools of thought, generally, you want to heat/toast whole spices, not powdered.
What are you using it for?
Unless you're making a Japanese curry, curry powder shouldn't be the central flavoring of a dish. You definitely wouldn't want to add much of it, to an Indian curry- some Indian dishes do use turmeric, but, from what I've seen, it's rarely used in abundance. In Western cuisine, I've always placed curry powder in the 'add a sprinkle' category. Like if you're making potato salad- add a sprinkle. More than that, though, I think you're asking for trouble.
Fenugreek seeds, and powder, are very bitter indeed. Try using less of them, and see if that helps. I don't know why you'd want to heat the powder just before cooking.