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  • Writer's pictureKay Redrup

All about spices


The origins of curry powder began in the 18th Century when spice merchants in India saw the potential of combining powders and selling these ready-made packages to British soldiers returning ‘home’. Until then, whole spices and powders were prepared at home; except for garam and chaat masala, (which was available pre-mixed and ground).

The use of spices separately allows the individualization of each dish. No longer does the main protein, pulse or vegetable carry the flavour of a dish in entirety.

Achieving a specific blend of mixed powder requires whole spices to be lightly roasted in a dry pan for a few minutes, which releases the natural oils, before being added to a dish or ground. The addition of garam masala is often added at the end of the cooking time. It contains the warming spices: cinnamon, chilli, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, mace, coriander and cumin; these bring depth to the dish, raise the body temperature and the metabolism.

Every region of India has its own unique additions to their cuisine; as does the migration of the Indians & Island Indians to other parts of the world – Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Madagascar, Guiana, Jamacia, Trinidad, to name just a few areas where curries are now unique to that destination.

Creating your own spice mix allows you to avoid ‘fillers’ such as nuts or flour, often used to bulk out the product and thicken the gravy; and you can adjust the heat profile to match your palate by reducing or adding chilli.

Turkey has almost all the spices needed to recreate each countries cuisine, especially the Punjab in India. The ease of possibilities makes it as simple as rustling up a native dish, and well worth it.

Singapore noodles first conceived in Hong Kong in a Chinese Restaurant. Anglo Indian Madras Curry powder is used. Recipe in my upcoming The Expat Alchemist cooks Singapore.

Lamb Biryani, individual spices used - Recipe available in the upcoming The Expat cooks Singapore book. A variation of this is also available in The Expat cooks Punjab cookbook.

Singapore's fish head curry. Unique to Singapore and conceived by an Indian Restaurant wishing to entice Chinese diners! Recipe available in the upcoming The Expat Alchemist cooks Singapore book.

Curry Pakora. The branding of the name 'curry' comes from this dish. When the British first entered India they were greeted by this dish and told it was Kadhri. Since then everything with gravy was named Curry. Recipe available in The Expat cooks Punjab cookbook.

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