When adorable life told us about her dry chicken curry, she listed something called chicken masala powder. A quick google suggested it’s just garam masala with extra spices. Fine, I thought, I can do that. But which spices? Should I follow northern or southern Indian traditions? What’s in the cupboard?
In the end, I decided to follow the recipe from Indian Kitchen because it seemed to be a basic spice mix that could easily be blended with anything else required on the day, including the dry chicken curry I was so desperate to make.
Chicken masala powder
- 20 to 30 curry leaves (about 1 very, very heaped Aussie tablespoon, plus a few)
- 4 dry red chillies
- 1/2 cup of coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoon of cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon of black cumin seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon of black peppercorns
Dry cook all the ingredients in a heavy frying pan with no oil, as follows:
- Dry fry the curry leaves for just a couple of minutes until they’re crisp. Tip them into a bowl to cool.
- Dry fry the chillies until they change their colour slightly. Tip them into a bowl to cool (you can use the same bowl as the curry leaves unles you’re filming for an international cooking program)
- Now dry fry all the remaining spices until you can smell that gorgeous, spicy aroma. Be careful not to burn them. Again, you really just want to bring out the flavour a bit and make the crisp enough to grind into a powder. Tip them into a bowl to cool.
- Grind everything together in a mortar and pestle. you’re supposed to get a fine powder, but my patience never seems to last that long. i usually end up with a coarse powder.
- You can add salt for storage, but the mixture stores well in an airtight container.
Indian Kitchen tells us that you can also add turmeric, cloves, cinnamon stick, ground ginger (not fresh), garlic, mace, nutmeg and poppy seeds; but we chose to stick with the basic mix for our first time.
Source: The basic recipe came from Indian Kitchen’s How to make Chicken Masala Powder / Curry Powder, but we didn’t have any fenugreek, let alone the recommended 1/2 tablespoon of fenugreek seeds. Fortunately for us, Kerala recipes’ Home Made Chicken/Meat Masala Powder, listed it as an optional ingredient.