There are so many people that are totally confused and unfimiliar with spices. It makes it easier to cook with spices when you understand what they are and how to use them. Here in South Africa we are spoilt for choice when it comes to masalas, there’s a huge variety available in spice stores. Masala can be used in almost any curry but finding the right one is key. I live in the city of Johannesburg and I must admit sometimes it is a challenge to find a good quality masala and sometimes best to make your own but if you are living in the city of Durban, the home of curry, you will be in masala heaven!
So what exactly is masala and curry powder?
Masala and curry powder is a blend of spices. Masala is a warming aromatic blend of spices and curry powder is more earthy. Masala or curry powder is never used in an authentic Indian curry, here it will be a mix of individual spices coming together to create an aromatic, flavorful curry. Although there are many variations of masala and curry powder in spice stores people tend to add more of their own spice to this to create that perfect curry to suit their individual tastes and style of cooking.
Garam means “hot” and masala means “mixture of spices”. Garam masala is usually added as a final step to cooking. It is used to give a warm flavour to a dish rather than to create heat. The best Garam masala is homemade with freshly roasted spices.
What is chilli powder?
Chilli powder is unaldulterated ground chillies. Kashmiri chilli powder is less pungent and its main quality is the bright red colour. Kashmiri chilli powder is mainly used in tandoori dishes. However, if you find a South African curry recipe asking for Kashmiri chilli powder together with masala it is mainly to add more colour to the dish.