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Apr 8, 2011 09:33 AM

Yellow Curry Powder smell?

When I was growing up, the only curry my Mom knew was the yellow powder. Over the years I developed a huge aversion to the smell and taste. A couple of years ago, I was in a large, open restaurant with a curry dish on the menu, and it looked like only a couple of people had ordered it, but I could smell it throughout the restaurant.

My boyfriend loves spice blends, and had a 4-pack of Mohini curry blends at a very reasonable price. I bit the bullet, decided I would live with the curry smell for him, and bought it. Much to my surprise, not one of them smells anything like the yellow curry I can't stand. Not a whiff or hint of it.

I've searched the web and compared ingredients between yellow curry powder and the Mohini blends: and all of the ingredients seem to be the same. This has been driving me nuts since we received these blends, and now I think I've missed out on alot by avoiding all things curry.

Does anyone know what the difference in smell might be? Is it the proportion of fenugreek? We did decide that next time we're in the loose spice aisle that I should smell some and see.

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  1. I'm pretty sure I understand what smell you're talking about (I recall it vividly from my college days eating the 'curry chicken' at Chinese takeout places), and it's most likely the fenugreek. I've seen recipes for 'Madras Curry Powder' that call for tons of it, even made one once, and that smell took me right back to those days. It's a spice I rarely use otherwise; maybe in a vindaloo, but even then it's in low proportions.

    1 Reply
    1. re: TongoRad

      I enjoy Thai curry so when I ordered Chinese curry I was disappointed. Very different taste. I don't do that anymore.

      A brand new Chinese restaurant opened across the street so I stopped in and saw they also have a Thai menu, so I ordered the Panang Curry, which turned out to be Chinese Curry with Thai vegetables. Very disappointed, but I should have known better.

      A Jamaican friend gave me a small jar of Jamaican yellow curry powder and it tastes like Indian yellow curry. Delish.

    2. Well, curry powder was originally a British invention. I'm guessing the yellow curry powder you're referring to is that kind -- not authentic. Nowadays. more indians are using prepacked spice blends to save time, so there are some good ones out there.

      1. Old yellow curry powders like Mcormick's are absolutely vile, IMO. They have nothing to do with real Indian food. The Mccormick's stuff smells like smog or pollution to me, and tho I love Indian food of almost all kind, and make tons of Indian food at home, that Mccormick stuff is just sickening to me. Not sure if it's the fenugreek - fenugreek smells like fake maple flavoring. I honestly don't recall what that mcormick stuff smells like - I won't go near it.
        Tracylee - I also had a major aversion (I thought) to Indian food, because when I was young, my mom would make "curry" once in a while with that mcormick powder, and it was just horrible, and stunk up the house something fierce. When I went out to an Indian / Pakistani restaurant with a few friends svereal years ago, I was astonished at how good it was - absolutely delicious, and no british curry powder smell! I've been making it at home, and going out to new restaurants ever since.

        One quick thing I learned that might help you a little as you discover "all things curry" should you choose - Curry just means "sauce." There are many many different "curries." "Curry" does not mean powder. a curry can be made from a blend of dried spices, but something called "Curry Powder" will probably never be in my kitchen. I use plenty of spice mixes for specific curries, but a generically labeled "Curry Powder' is not something I'd equate with Indian food. If it is labeled for a specific curry by name, then perhaps I'd think about using it, but most of the spice blends I use tell you right up front what they are for. MIght not make any sense, but if you dive into Indian food (and I hope you do, it's sooooooo good) you'll understand right away.

        1. The smell that I find most prominent on most commercial curry powders is indeed fenugreek, followed by cumin. Try picking a bag of fenugreek seeds and seeing if that's the offending odor.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JungMann

            Fenugreek mixed with the sort of Band-aidy smell of turmeric.

          2. Thank you all! I knew I'd get an answer here.

            The boyfriend still has yellow curry powder in the cupboard and mixes it with crab when we have some leftover, but I stay out of the kitchen when he does it. The restaurant dishes I've smelled it in were in American restaurants, so I'm sure they were just using the same stuff.

            We have a number of Indian restaurants in town, and now I look forward to actually trying it out!

            1 Reply
            1. re: tracylee

              OK, we're down to two Indian restaurants in town, neither out South, and some of the reviews make it sound like they're competing for "worst restaurant in town".

              Time to make something at home! I found a recipe for baked Curried Sweet Potato Fries. I've got everything I need in the house - bonus!