The starting point for any good Malaysian curry is a good curry powder. The unique fragrance of Malaysian curries is the hybrid of Indian and South East Asia. Indian spice blends combined with fresh, fragrant South East Asian ingredients to create one of the World's great cuisines. Sweet and spiced with an unmistakeable aniseed note, making it truly Malaysian.
Should I buy or make my own Malaysian Curry powder?
Buying Malaysian Curry Powder
To create that unique flavour, there is no shame in buying pre-made curry powders. They have a wonderful combination of flavour and are ready-to-go from the packet. If you ARE buying a curry powder pre-made, then be sure to search for 'Malaysian curry powder'. Malaysian curry powder is not the same as powders typically labelled 'curry powder'. You'll often see powders names Malaysian Curry Powder 'for meat' or 'for fish'. Each has its own unique blend of spices.
Nothing gives you the control to make the most amazing flavoursome curry than making your own curry powder at home. If I can't get hold of curry powder at the store (and let's face it, a lot of things have disappeared from supermarket shelves in 2020!) making my own fresh blend at home is a great idea. And fresh curry powder is just that, packed with flavour. Toasted spices unlock the flavour, and when ground this powder is a pure burst of authentic fragrance and aroma.
Why should I toast spices?
Toasting spice is a tried and tested way of bringing flavour to curries. The natural oils are activated and you'll extract every little bit of flavour when it comes to cooking. The same can be said for curry powders. Toasting spices, by dry frying in a pan, unlocks the flavour, so that when it's ground it's at its most fragrant.
For our curry powder we use ground paprika and chilli powder mixed with a blend of toasted and freshly ground whole spices:
How long does curry powder last?
Making at home allows you to prepare enough for multiple meals. This recipe creates enough powder for 4 curries. Do you realise how much delicious liquid Malaysia this means!? I'm ALWAYS primed for Malaysian curry, so to have a bunch of pre-ground spice on hand is all the impetus I need.
Grinding curry powder in batches is a good idea if you plan on eating a few curries in the near future, so don't grind a powder then pop it in the cupboard for a year before using - you won't get the best out of it! I would say the flavour will stay vibrant for 6-8 months - that's plenty of time to plan your meal, right? And this recipe is great for chicken, red meat, vegetables and even seafood, so that's plenty of variety.
Some delicious recipes using Malaysian curry powder
Use up to 4 heaped teaspoons of this curry powder for each curry you plan on making. The curry powder isn't spicy, it's more floral and fragrant, with an aniseed note unique to Malaysian cuisine. Here are a few recipes that you can use THIS curry powder to great effect.
In a dry frying pan, toast all the whole spices for 1-2 minutes until spluttering and jumping around. Remove from the heat into a bowl and cool slightly.
Tip into a spice grinder (you may need to do this in batches) and grind into a fine powder.
Mix in paprika and chilli powder. Decant in a sealable container or jar and keep in a cool, dark spot until needed. It'll be fine and fresh for 6-8 months.A portion for one curry would be around 4 heaped teaspoons.
This powder is perfect for chicken. But can be used for beef, lamb, duck and even seafood.
Malaysian Curry Powder
Amount Per Serving
Calories 63Calories from Fat 18
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Vitamin A 2292IU46%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.