Madras Curry Spice Blend

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From the Vitality Food Feature ‘GIFTS FROM THE KITCHEN‘.

I found a well-stocked Indian grocery store on Gerrard Street West in Toronto with an entire wall devoted to spices that are fresh, whole, and most importantly, decently priced. I’m sure there are similar spice sellers all across the city, and it’s important that we seek them out and give them our business. Always purchase whole spices from stores that specialize in spices, or health food stores that have a large spice section. Start out with small quantities so that you always have fresh at hand.

Curry is a blend of spices, not one spice, and everyone has their own secret curry combinations, so feel free to experiment with spices and amounts. The heat in the blend below comes from the mustard, peppercorns and chiles. Of course, the fresher these spices are, the hotter they will be. If you like the flavour but not the heat, reduce the amounts of those spices in this blend.

You will need two small, dark glass jars (1/4 cup capacity), plus lids and labels. (Makes ½ cup.)


  • 2 Tbsp fenugreek seeds (see Recipe Notes)
  • 2 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp allspice berries
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 stick (4-inches) cinnamon, crushed
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 5 dried chiles
  • 2 Tbsp ground turmeric

1) In a small skillet or spice wok combine fenugreek, coriander, allspice, mustard, peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom and chiles.

2) Toast over medium heat, stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly coloured and fragrant. Remove from heat just as the seeds begin to pop. Do not let the spices smoke and burn. Let cool.

3) In a mortar (using a pestle) or small electric grinder, pound or grind toasted spices until coarse or finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and mix in turmeric. Transfer to jars, cap, label, and store the blend in a cool place for up to 3 months.

4) Recipe Note: Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), a plant in the legume family, is the one spice closely associated with the flavour of curry, so it is almost always included in curry blends.

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