How to Make a Curry

How to Make a Curry

When it comes to spice blending, making a curry powder from scratch is one of the best ways to gain an understanding as to how the various flavour characteristics work to create a harmonious and interesting blend.

The main types of spices:

Spices can be grouped into five basic categories.  These are; sweet, pungent, tangy, hot, and amalgamating.  The way we use these and the amounts we put into cooking are governed by these characteristics.  Examples of some different types of spices are;

Sweet:  cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, vanilla.

Pungent:  cloves, star anise, cardamom.

Tangy:  tamarind, sumac, amchur, kokam.

Hot:  pepper, chilli, mustard, horseradish.

Amalgamating: coriander seed, fennel seed, paprika, turmeric.

The following table gives an indication of the ratio one would use of each of the different groups of spices to achieve a balanced blend. Therefore, your sweet spices in a blend may be comprised of 2 teaspoons of Cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of Allspice = 3 teaspoons in total.

Sweet Pungent Tangy Hot Amalgamating
Cinnamon Cloves Tamarind Chilli Coriander Seed
Cassia Star Anise Sumac Pepper Fennel Seed
Allspice Cardamom Kokam Sweet Paprika
Nutmeg Cumin Amchur Turmeric
Fenugreek Ginger
3+ teaspoons 2+ teaspoon 1+ teaspoon ½ + teaspoon 5 + teaspoons

A curry blend is a great way to begin blending spices, as you will experience how the curry emerges from a combination of spices, some of which you may not normally associate with a curry powder. We suggest you smell the spices as you add each one, as this will help you experience how each new spice contributes to the final symphony of flavour.

Start experimenting by making your own curry blend at home.

Measurements are in “parts” which is the way to use a consistent volumetric measure. Use a teaspoon, tablespoon or any other measuring container.

Step 1.

First, make a Sweet Spice Blend:

Spice and (characteristic)

6 parts ground coriander seed (amalgamating)

4 ½ parts ground cinnamon (sweet)

1 ½ parts ground ginger (tangy)

1 part ground nutmeg (sweet)

½ part ground allspice (sweet)

¼ part ground cardamom (pungent)

¼ part ground cloves (pungent)


Now you have a blend that is dominated by sweet spices, has some pungency to carry the flavours and aromas, and is brought together by an amalgamating spice. No individual spice should dominate, however depending upon your familiarity with the various spice flavours, you may notice one more than another. A sweet spice blend such as this can be used in cakes, biscuits and pastries.

Next you will see how it can be an important element in a savoury dish as well.

Step 2.

Build on the Sweet Spice to Make Your Curry Powder by Adding These Spices to Your Sweet Spice Blend (above).

Spice and (characteristic)

3 ½ parts ground cumin seeds (pungent)

2 parts ground fennel seed (amalgamating)

2 parts ground Alleppey turmeric (amalgamating)

1 part ground black pepper (hot)

½ part ground Kashmiri chilli (hot)

½ part amchur powder (tangy)

We can now see how a curry can be made by balancing a number of predominantly sweet spices with hot and pungent spices.

There are literally dozens of ways each individual can vary the amounts of the above ingredients to make his/her own personal curry blends.  What you now have is a framework that can be used as a starting point to making your own curry.

The Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition

This is one of my standby ways of making a curry. Once you master this one, play around with spice ratios and look for a range of curry blends in The Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition.








Herbie’s Saturday Curry

2 tbs Herbie’s Spices medium Madras curry or the spice combination above.

2 tbs oil

1 tbs Herbie’s Spices Panch Phora

1 onion chopped

500g beef, lamb or chicken cut into 2cm cubes

2 tsp lemon juice

400g can whole peeled tomatoes and 400mL water

2 tsp Herbie’s Spices Garam Masala

2 tbs tomato paste

8 Herbie’s Spices Curry Leaves

Salt or Herbie’s Spices Chaat Masala to taste

Heat a heavy based casserole on the stovetop, add curry powder and dry roast, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon for up to 2 minutes, being careful not to burn.

Add oil and make into a paste, add panch phora and stir until seeds start popping.

Add onion, over a medium heat and stir for 2 minutes, do not overcook.

Add meat, about 6 pieces at a time, making sure each piece is browned and coated with spices.

Add lemon juice, tomatoes and water, roughly chopping tomatoes while stirring.

Add tomato paste, curry leaves and salt, stir and turn off heat.

Sprinkle Garam Masala over surface.

Cover pot and place in oven at 125 degrees C. for 2 hours.  Allow to cool, store in fridge and heat and serve the next day.

Serves: 4

Here is a You Tube Video showing how I make this curry.