Hello again! I’ve put together this list which I hope you will find useful. Most of the spices I use in my curries are listed here and will cost very little to stock up from an Asian store. Once you are armed with these you will change your mind about cooking curries and contrary to some theories I have heard, it doesn’t take a day and more to prepare a delicious curry! An English friend of mine whose parents lived in India during colonial times would swear that her Mum needed at least 2 days to prepare curry and I have never figured how that was possible and she never elucidated. I cook every day and have all my spices handy and a larder stocked with basics which means I don’t spend a day in the kitchen stirring a pot! You will see that I use curry powder and tend not to use these spices individually. The reason being that there are some very good curry powder mixes on the market and it cuts cooking time if you find a good one and stick to that. I trust and use Bolst Mild Curry Powder and it serves me very well. People are sometimes surprised when I say I use ready mixed curry powder but the truth is there is no harm and it does the job and makes my life easy, so why not?
As for frying onions and grating garlic and ginger, well that too can be made easy if you are pushed for time. Use ready fried onions (not gluten free, so check) and ready minced garlic and ginger. Some recipes do need freshly fried onions where the onions are a prominent feature of the recipe but for say sag tofu (spinach with tofu) you could use ready fried onions with impunity. Generally speaking, where the recipe requires 1 medium fried onion, use about 2 tablespoons of fried onions.
Here’s the list you need to take with you to the Asian store – if in doubt just ask them for help or email me. The links for Bolst curry powder is to the Asian Cookshop and you will find a vast array of spices to tempt you if you prefer to buy online! I’ve listed most of what comes to mind and each recipe has a slightly different combination of a few, not all!
Curry powder – I use Bolst Mild but you can take your pick and experiment
Cumin seeds whole
Fenugreek dried leaves also known as Qasuri methi
Fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
Black mustard seeds
Dried whole red chillies
Garam Masala (used whole or ground for fragrance and flavour)
These are the basic ingredients for garam masala, however, some people may add nutmeg, cumin seeds and even coriander seeds. But for fragrance you only need the ones listed below
- Whole black pepper
- Whole cloves
- Whole white or black cardamom
- Cinnamon sticks
- Bay leaves