You’ll find yellow curry powder in a lot of Assyrian and Iraqi dishes, and it’s become an important part of our cuisine in recent centuries. It’s in everything from biryani to amba to masgouf, and it feels essential to the food that makes me think of home cooking. But it’s important to note that the whole idea of curry actually has a history of colonialism and a connection to our shared experience with the Indian subcontinent (check out articles by Sucharita Kanjilal, Naben Ruthnum, and Little Global Chefs for more information and context). And while it’s not strictly an “authentic” Middle Eastern ingredient (nor an authentic Indian one), it’s certainly become a part of Iraqi and Assyrian cuisines.
What is authenticity anyway? Things are always changing—some new things come from beautiful instances of cultural sharing, and some new things happen from violence and conquest, but in either case we’re left with whatever remains. When we take stock, maybe it’s just important that we remember and acknowledge our history and our circumstances, while working toward an equitable future.
This curry powder is primarily made up of turmeric, cumin, coriander, and fenugreek, with some warm and spicy background notes. While this blend works really well raw, tempering it in some oil or dry roasting it in a pan for 1 minute will deepen its flavor. You can use this blend in a number of different dishes—check out the archives for a full list, but here are a few of my favorites:
- vegan biryani
- amba fish tacos
- amba slaw
- weeknight biryani + an article
- shirw’it kirtopie | potato stew
- sheet pan chicken curry
- red lentil soup
- chicken curry
- sheet pan kirtopie | sheet pan potato curry
- a vegetarian meze dinner party
Also, just to note: I originally posted this recipe and these photos a couple years ago, but I wanted to update the post to give it a bit more historical context and information, so here it is in its updated form. Hope you enjoy!Print
yellow curry powder
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: about 3/4 cup
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground fenugreek seeds
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground mustard
2 teaspoons ground curry leaves (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom *
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground chili
- Prep any whole spices by grinding them and then measuring them. Use a very clean coffee grinder, spice grinder, or mortar and pestle.
- Combine all ingredients and store in a sealed glass container for 6 months to a year.
* If you’re using whole pods, use green cardamom, rather than black, and discard the shells before grinding the seeds. If you’re using ground spices, green cardamom is the same thing as a standard shaker of cardamom you’ll find in the supermarket.