What is Curry?
There are many varieties of curry powder. One of the most common ones is made from a mixture of coriander, cumin, black pepper, turmeric, mustard and cinnamon. The spices vary, but the first four of these spices are almost always present in a curry powder. The powder is fine and light and ranges from golden to brown or orange. The flavors are spicy, bright, earthy and sometimes sweet. Curry powder is added to many Indian dishes to give a delicious complexity of tastes.
...Cumin is a spice used in many cuisines around the world. The seed from which cumin is ground is a thin seed with a long body and tapered ends. Cumin is just a few millimeters in length and has a light brown or tan tone, which can look a bit grey. Ground cumin is light brown and has a flavor that is spicy, earthy and a little nutty. When pan heated, the flavor of cumin is both tempered and enhanced.
...Turmeric is the root of a flowering plant and is used as a spice. The root is woody, but easy to cut and looks similar to ginger. Rather than growing in clusters, each root is a several or so inches long, cylindrical and 1 or more inches in diameter. The thin skin is a brownish-orange and protects the inner root which is bright orange, like a carrot. Turmeric dyes everything it touches and leaves a golden color. The flavor is earthy, pungent and slightly bitter. It has numerous uses, including flavoring and coloring food.
...Ginger is a spice whose root is used in food around the world. The root is grown underground and has a hard body and thin beige skin. The root has many rounded and long shoots and is often fat. The flesh of the ginger is golden colored with a flavor that is earthy, spicy and bright. Ginger is made into tea, used in sauces, desserts and savory dishes.
...Mustard is a yellow condiment and spread used for sandwiches, and as an ingredient for sauces and more. Mustard is made from the seeds of the mustard plant and either ground into powder or used whole. Mustard varies from bright yellow to a muted golden brown. The texture of yellow mustard, such as Dijon or American is smooth. Grainy mustard, made from the whole pinhead sized seed is brown. In general, mustard has a spicy, mildly hot and vinegary flavor. Some types are more tart and one dimensional, while other varieties have a range of tastes. Mustard is a refrigerated item and usually only a small amount is needed of this strongly flavored condiment.
...The peppercorn plant grows in tropical climate and produces tiny black fruit. The fruit is dried and become hard. At this point it is ground into a textured powder comprised of black and grey dots. It has a flavor that is spicy, pungent and sharp. Pepper is an extremely popular spice, especially in Western cuisines and lends a gentle heat to dishes. There are different varieties of black pepper and the flavor changes subtly because of this.
...Ground cinnamon is a fine aromatic powder made from the bark of the cinnamon tree, also known as cassia; another variety. The bark is peeled from the tree, dried and ground into the warm brown powder that is known as cinnamon. The flavor is spicy, warm and sweet and savory at the same time. It is extremely popular in many cuisines and common in American desserts.
...The seeds of the cardamom plant are used in Indian cuisines for both savory and sweet dishes. The seeds grow in a small green pod, roughly the size of an oblong blueberry with pointed ends. The pod has a hard shell, with small pinhead-sized seeds inside that are dark or light brown. These seeds are ground into a fine powder and this is the part used in food. The flavor is almost minty, herbal, spicy and sweet. A little goes a long way in any dish.
...Cayenne is a small and moderately hot chili pepper. When mature it is bright red in color and has a thin tapered body that is between 2-3 inches long. On the Scoville heat scale for hot peppers it is considered 'scorching'. Cayenne has a crunch to it when raw, though is best cooked to reduce the heat of the plant, it is also sold as a powder. This hot pepper is used commonly in Central and South America, as well as Africa.