All-Purpose Curry Powder


The Spice Bible

Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

"Curry powder" is a Western term, non-existent in India where different spices are mixed together depending on the dish being cooked. What we refer to as all-purpose curry powder is loosely based on India’s madras powder—and may contain cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, fenugreek, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, ginger, mustard seed, chili, and pepper, depending on the brand. The madras blend was assimilated by the British during their colonial rule in India, and is now a convenience ingredient found in many pantries throughout the West.

NotesAlthough its most well-known use is as the base for curries, curry powder can also be rubbed onto meat before cooking, used as the base of a butter sauce, or added to dressings. It also features in the classic Indian-British rice dish, kedgeree.



Total Timeunder 15 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Dietary Considerationhealthy, vegan

Equipmentmortar and pestle, spice grinder


Taste and Texturesharp, smoky, spiced

Type of Dishdry rub


  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom


  1. Dry-fry the whole spices separately in a frying pan over medium heat for 2–3 minutes, or until fragrant. Grind to a fine powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Mix all the spices together.

  2. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.


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