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Differences in Curry Powder

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I just saw a recipe for Prawn Curry that calls for Madras Curry Powder. In my spice shelf I only have Jamaican style curry that I've had for years and don't really care for it the times I've cooked with it. However I do like curry dishes so I'm wondering if maybe the different curry varieties vary significantly? Is there a particular curry powder that can be used well for all dishes worldwide?

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  1. " Is there a particular curry powder that can be used well for all dishes worldwide?"

    short answer - no.

    longer answer - there are as many curries as their are cooks. a curry is a masala - a mic - of spices... best to make your own really

    1. "Curry powder" is a blend of spices, so yes, they are all different.

      1. There is a big difference. I bought some inexpensive (say CHEAP) curry powder and the dish was seriously lacking in flavor. I bought a can in the Asian market and it is great!

        1. I've found that purchasing spices at ethnic grocery stores gives me much fresher spices because of high volume/turnover, as compared with a standard supermarket where they might only sell a couple dozen tiny containers a year of "exotic" spices like curry blends.
          MUCH cheaper, too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: toodie jane

            And in that vein, you could search for a recipe for Madras-style curry and mix your own from spices you might already have. Fresh is best!

          2. I could write a book to answer this question – I will try to be succinct as other posters have said curry powder is a mix of different spices. There are also different styles of curry / curry powder and curries vary greatly from region to region and from country to country (compare Thai green curries vs Indian yellow curries)

            Technically speaking madras curry comes from southern India and is usually a spicier curry that has a redder color due to ground chilies being added into the spice mix. However, as with most ethnic food much of what we call madras curry powder in the states is just a regular mix of curry powder.

            For people who want a good brand of pre-mixed curry powder I suggest the sun brand madras curry powder. It is not as hot as most but the flavor is excellent, I find many people who I have hooked on this cannot go back to any other pre-mixed brand of curry powder.

            1. Thanks for all that great information. I especially like the idea of making my own, so I searched and found what looks like a great madras curry recipe on recipezaar AND I don't need to go out to buy anything to make it because I have everything it calls for. To be honest, I began to wonder if my tastes towards curry were changing because the only curry I have is Jamaican style and yes it is CHEAP. Time to throw it out I guess.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cozybug

                That's great! I'll be interested to hear how it turns out.

              2. I've tried several different curry powders and they were all unique. Yes they shared some ingredients, but the overall flavor and heat level was vastly different. I really enjoy a tin I purchased in an Asian market in VA. But I also love madras curry powder also. And then there is the little box of curry powder I found in an Indian market. My advise would be to experiment with several and find one that you like.

                1. Different countries have different versions of curry. An indian curry is not going to be the same as a Japanese curry, or a thai curry or a jamaican curry. Every country has their own version with spices unique to that version.

                  It's like saying "are all grilled meat skewers the same?" The answer is no -- there are satays and kebabs and yakitori and all sorts of versions. The only thing they share in common are the type of item they are.