A funny thing happened this week! I was planning to make Curry Powder the Ingredient of the Week and then yesterday, out of the blue, I received two questions about curry powder! Chris in Canada asked if the curry I use in my Curry Chicken recipe is Jamaican curry powder and, if so, how it different from Indian curry powder. Peter in London, England also asked about what curry powder I use, and if I have a homemade recipe. Thank you both for your questions.
As far as curry powder goes, I’m not too fancy. I generally buy the “all-purpose” brands available at the supermarket. If you’ve made my Curry Chicken recipe you’ll know that I fry some cumin seeds before adding my curry powder to the pot, to kick up the flavour. However, I do sometimes buy “Jamaican” curry powder blends when I find it.
Jamaica’s love of curry originates from the influence of East Indian cooking brought to the island by indentured workers in the 19th century. I did a little research to find out what really makes a Jamaican curry powder different from an Indian curry powder.
What I found is that there are many different variations and combinations of spices in each version, but in general, Jamaican curry powder usually contains allspice and Indian does not. Indian curry powder tends to use both black and green cardamom, Jamaican curry powder does not. Indian curry powders may contain star anise and mace, Jamaican curry powders generally don’t use these spices.
Below are two recipes for homemade Jamaican curry powder that I found but have not tried myself. Honestly, at my age, I’m happy to use the store-bought stuff. However, it you’re willing, I think you’ll find either of these recipes easy. You’ll need either a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle to grind all the spices together. You can also kick up the heat by adding cayenne to either recipe, but I recommend adding heat when cooking a curry dish by using either scotch bonnet pepper or hot pepper sauce. Have fun!
Jamaican Curry Powder
1/4 cup whole coriander seeds
2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
2 tablespoons whole mustard seeds
2 tablespoons whole anise seeds
1 tablespoon whole fenugreek seeds
1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
5 tablespoons ground turmeric
Method: Place a spices in a skillet and toast over a medium heat until colour darkens slightly and spices are very fragrant. Remove pan from heat. Let spices cool to room temperature then grind and place in an air-tight storage container.
Jamaican Curry Powder
5 parts ground turmeric
4 parts coriander seeds
3 parts cayenne
1 part ground ginger
1 part grated nutmeg
1 part whole allspice
3 parts fenugreek seeds
2 parts cumin seeds
2 parts whole black pepper
2 parts star anise or aniseed
2 parts yellow mustard seeds
1 part whole cloves
Method: Grind spices together and place in an air-tight storage container.