Curry Plant: Is This the Source of Curry?
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Todd Feltman
Posted on: January 18, 1999

I bought a curry herb plant at the nursery. Is this what curry powder is made from and if so how do you make it? I also heard that curry powder is really a mixture of spices and if this is true does anyone have any recipes?

The curry plant you bought is likely to be Helichrysum italicum. This plant looks like a greyer cousin of rosemary, with needle-like leaves and bushy, upright, evergreen growth. It is *not* the source of the curry powder. While the leaves a have scent that loosely resembles curry, it does not have the famous curry spicy flavour.

True curry is a mixture of spices. In truth, there is no one formula for curry, as it can be made from as few as 3-4 spices to as many as a dozen spices.

Here are some sample recipes which shown the rich variability of curries (from the Joy of Cooking):

1. 1 oz. each ginger, coriander, and cardamom; 1/4 oz. cayenne; 3 oz. turmeric.

2. 2 oz. each of coriander, turmeric, fenugreek and black pepper; 2-1/2 oz. cumin; 1-1/2 oz. each poppy seed and cardamom; 1/2 oz. mustard seed; 1/2 oz. dry ginger; 2 oz. dry chilis; 1 oz. cinnamon.

3. 1 oz. each turmeric, coriander and cumin; 1/2 oz. each dry ginger and peppercorns; 1/4 oz. each dried hot peppers and fennel seed; 1/8 oz. each mustard, poppy seed, cloves and mace.

Curry is most familiar to North Americans as a powdered blend. But in India, curries are always made from scratch from freshly ground spices. A big part of daily life for women is grinding the spices for the daily curry. Curry is made with ghee, or clarified butter, and prepared into paste made with onion, garlic and even fruits such as tamarind or pomegranate. Typically in India, curries are specially blended for each type of dish: for example, there sour ones for marinated meats and dry ones for coating meat.

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