Rumah Resep Berlimpah Rempah

The formula for making Japanese curry powder

The formula for producing you own Japanese curry powder, (and also garam masala).  It does not guaranteed this formula is right, anyway it might be used for reference to formulate your own secret formula.

As I wrote in the Beef Curry recipe, I don’t make my own curry powder. Lomo asked in the comments about the “secret” 15 to 20 spices that make up curry powder. After poking around a bit on Japanese web sites, I came up with this page that describes what goes into S & B curry powders, the most popular brand by far in Japan. It’s an official S & B page, so should be accurate, though as you can see the percentages given have a pretty wide range. I guess it’s because the actual formulas are ‘secret’. In any case it gives a starting point for any experimentation I think.

I’ve also included a recipe for making garam masala. Note that I make no claims whatsoever that these are authentic mixes for Indian or other curries, but I’m talking here about Japanese curry.

The following is a rough summary/translation of the Japanese article.

Japanese curry powder

These basic four spices make up 80 to 90% of the mix:

  • Turmeric (20-50%)
  • Coriander (20-30%)
  • Cumin (5-25%)
  • Cardamon (5-15%)

Then the following ‘hot’ spices make up about 5% of the blend. If you want to increase the amount of hot spices, decrease the turmeric accordingly.

  • Black pepper (2-8%)
  • Chili (cayenne) pepper (0.5 – 2%)

The remaining 5-15% is taken up with aromatic spices. Adjusting these spices makes the powder distinctive.

  • Clove (3-5%)
  • Fennel (1-2%

All of the above are the basic spices (that go into all the powders, I assume).

Other spices, herbs and so on are added to give distinction to each blend, such as:

  • Cinnamon
  • Star anise
  • Allspice
  • Nutmeg
  • Fenugreek
  • Bay leaf
  • Sage
  • Oregano (“and other herbs”, not specified)
  • Cocoa powder
  • Coffee powder

They say to limit the amount of ‘other’ ingredients to about 1-2% of the total.

To make up the curry powder, roast the spices (I think they assume you are starting out with ground spices) in a dry frying pan for about 2-3 minutes. Cool the spices, and if possible let them mature in a cool, dark place for about a month before using.

Note that a good garam masala mix will contain the aromatic spices like cloves and fennel too. Here’s a standard garam masala mixture from an old Japanese curry cookbook I have, if you’d like to make up your own, starting from whole spices:

Garam Masala (a la Japonaise?)

  • 4 sticks of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cardamon pods
  • 1/3 cup cloves
  • 1/3 cumin
  • 1/4 cup coriander
  • 1/3 cup black pepper
  • 1/3 cup white pepper

Put all of the above onto a baking sheet, and roast in a 90°C / 195°F oven. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Take the cardamon out of the pods. Grind it all up in a mixer, dividing up if necessary, until ground to a fine powder. (Note: nowadays I would use an electric coffee mill reserved for spices.) Store in an airtight jar.


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