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Feb 26, 2012 07:45 AM

I want to blend my own chili powder (or is it chile powder?)

I have access to a good selection of dried chiles, but I'm at a loss when it comes to combining them into a great powder. I've been using a recipe from America's Test Kitchen that has no kick (heat). Can anyone recommend a good combination of chiles for me to use (please suggest a proportion, too).

BTW, the way I've been making the powder up until now is to toast the dried chiles in the oven for just a few minutes -- until they get puffy and dry -- then cool them, de-stem and de-seed them, and pulverize them in my born-again coffee grinder. Is that the right way to do it? And what other seasonings do you add afterward, if any? (Oregano, cumin, paprika, etc.???)

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  1. Cindy: I'll leave it to others to suggest custom-blending (not my forte), but: if you want a bit more bite/heat, don't de-seed those chiles, or only de-seed maybe 1/3 or 1/2 of them. The seeds and inner membranes contain not only lots of flavors, but heat, too. If the chili (i.e. stewish/soupish) is for Mr. Pine, I'll use my dried, home-grown bhut jolokias and habaneros chiles (peppers). If the chili is for company, blistered anchos, piquillos, serranos.

    1. According to The Whole Chile Pepper Book (DeWitt & Gerlach, Little, Brown & Co., 1990) chili powder usually contains powdered chiles, garlic, cumin and oregano. Vary the types of chile, and proportions of other ingredients, to suit your taste.

      1. I have had great success using these two sources to create my own blend. Somewhere, I have written down what I actually do these days, but can't seem to find it at the moment:

        1 Reply
        1. re: smtucker

          After looking at those two links, I think I need to find more of a description of the characteristics of various dried chiles so I can figure out how I'd like to combine them.

        2. If it is to be your own chili powder blend then you really need to decide proportions.
          Depending on the application the bulk chilies I use are; Anchos, Guajillos, New Mexicos or Californias. One or a combo of these makes up 80% of the total.
          For smokey notes and heat Chilies Mecos, for smokey but less heat Chilies Moritas. For a darker powder, Mulotos, Passilas or Negros. To add heat use Arbols, Cascabel, Habanero or Pequins.
          As for the other flavorings I add them to the dish individually rather than blended into the Chili Powder, It gives me more flexibility in adjusting the flavor. Mexican Oregano, Cumin, Black Pepper are the most commonly added. After that sometimes Clove, Allspice, Coriander, Mexican Cinnamon or Thyme depending on the application.

          4 Replies
          1. re: chefj

            Is the darker color indicative of a particular flavor profile?

            1. re: CindyJ

              The Darker Chilies I listed all have a similar flavor profile each with small variations.
              Earth,Smoke(but not actually smoked ) Chocolate, Coffee, Prune and Raisin. Light on the Heat and Acid.

            2. re: chefj

              chefj...very helpful to this -me-novice, thank you

              1. re: chefj

                Chefj gave excellent advice. I leave mine in separate Zip bags. Currently anchos and quajillos. Mix on the fly

              2. The best chili I have made I did by taking a bag of dry arbol chilis, cutting them open, removing the seeds under running water, putting them in a little bowl with a bit of water, and microwaving them for a few minutes to soften. Then I process them in the Cuisinart with an 8-z can of plain tomato sauce and also garlic, salt, and cumin. This makes not a powder but a nice dark rich chili paste. You may want to adjust the spices by adding more salt, garlic, and cumin when you make the chili, also hot red pepper if you like it. I would add that this chili paste is mild---we don't like great heat.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Querencia

                  Wow! My experience with chiles de arbol is all heat.