Jamaican curry powder is a key ingredient that adds bold and vibrant flavor to many traditional Jamaican dishes like curry chicken, curry shrimp, curry goat, and more. If you love cooking authentic Jamaican food, having homemade Jamaican curry powder on hand is a must!
We will provide an in-depth guide on how to make your own Jamaican curry powder from scratch using spices you likely already have in your pantry. We'll also cover exactly what's in Jamaican curry powder, how it differs from Indian curry powder, recipe tips and substitutions, storage instructions and more.
Jamaican Curry Powder Ingredients
While there are some common ingredients in Jamaican curry powder, recipes can vary slightly based on personal preferences. Here is a base recipe to get you started:
- Coriander seeds - Provide an earthy, lemony flavor
- Cumin seeds - Add a sharp, bitter taste
- Yellow mustard seeds - Imparts a sweet, nutty flavor
- Fenugreek seeds - Has a maple-like taste
- Allspice berries - Gives a warm, peppery flavor
- Black peppercorns - Contributes a spicy kick
- Turmeric - Gives the yellow color and earthy flavor
- Ginger - Provides a sweet, spicy flavor
- Nutmeg - Adds a sweet, woody taste
- Cinnamon - Provides a sweet, aromatic flavor
- Cayenne or scotch bonnet pepper - Adds heat and spice
Toasting The Whole Spices
Toasting the whole spices before grinding helps intensify their flavors. Here's how:
- Place all the spices in a dry skillet over medium heat.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant.
- Once aromatic, immediately remove from heat so they don't burn.
- Let cool completely before grinding.
Tip: Pay close attention to the spices toast as some toast faster than others. You want them aromatic but not burnt.
Grinding The Spices
Once cooled, grind the toasted spices into a fine powder. You can use:
- A dedicated spice grinder
- A coffee grinder
- A mortar and pestle
Grind the spices in batches if needed to ensure a fine powder.
Tip: Be sure to fully grind the allspice berries, they can be tough.
Combining The Spice Mix
- Place the ground toasted spices into a bowl.
- Add the ground turmeric, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cayenne/scotch bonnet pepper.
- Thoroughly combine all the spices until well blended.
Your Jamaican curry powder is now ready to use!
Storing Jamaican Curry Powder
Place the curry powder in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Properly stored, it will keep for up to 6 months.
Tip: Only make what you will use in 6 months, as the flavors and vibrancy will fade over time.
Jamaican Vs. Indian Curry Powder
While both are combinations of spices, there are some key differences:
- Allspice - Jamaican curry contains allspice, but Indian curry typically does not.
- Turmeric - More turmeric is used in Jamaican curry powder.
- Heat Level - Jamaican curry powder has a milder heat than Indian.
- Scotch Bonnet Pepper - Jamaican curry sometimes contains scotch bonnet, but Indian does not.
So while you can substitute in a pinch, for true Jamaican flavor it's best to use an authentic Jamaican curry powder recipe.
Jamaican Curry Powder Recipe Tips
- Adjust spices to taste - Play around with the spice amounts to suit your preferences.
- Use salt judiciously - Avoid adding salt directly to the powder, instead season the dish as it cooks.
- Try other spices - Customize by adding cloves, star anise, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, etc.
- Control the heat - Use less or sub out cayenne/scotch bonnet for a milder blend.
- Toast thoroughly - But don't burn the spices, it makes the powder taste bitter.
- Grind it fine - For maximum flavor release and blendability.
- Use within 6 months - For optimal freshness and potency.
- Add to dishes judiciously - Start with 1 Tbsp per 1 lb of protein or veggies.
If you don't have certain ingredients on hand, try these substitutions:
- Allspice berries - Use ground allspice but toast before grinding
- Coriander seeds - Use ground coriander
- Mustard seeds - Use dry mustard powder
- Fenugreek seeds - Use ground fenugreek
- Cumin seeds - Use ground cumin
- Black peppercorns - Use ground black pepper
While toasting whole spices is ideal for maximum flavor, you can still make delicious Jamaican curry powder using pre-ground spices in a pinch!
How To Use Jamaican Curry Powder
Homemade Jamaican curry powder can be used to add big, bold flavor to a variety of savory dishes:
- Jamaican Curry Chicken - The classic use for this spice blend
- Curried Goat - Traditional island favorite
- Curry Shrimp - Delicious seafood curry
- Curried Vegetables - Pumpkin, chickpeas, cauliflower, etc.
- Jamaican Patties - Flavorful meat hand pies
- Curry Sauce - For pouring over fish, meat, rice, etc.
- Dry Spice Rub - Great on meats before grilling
Start with about 1 Tbsp of curry powder per 1 lb of protein or veggies. Adjust to taste, adding more if you want a stronger curry flavor.
The possibilities are endless with this versatile Jamaican spice blend!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is Jamaican curry powder spicy?
A: It can be, but is often milder than Indian curry powder. Feel free to adjust the heat to your taste by using less or more cayenne/scotch bonnet pepper.
Q: Can I use Jamaican curry powder in Indian dishes?
A: You can, but you may want to add more heat with cayenne or hot peppers. The flavors will be a bit different than true Indian curry powder.
Q: Do I have to toast the whole spices?
A: No, but toasting really brings out their full flavor potential. If you don't toast, use pre-ground spices.
Q: Can I use a pre-made Jamaican curry powder?
A: Absolutely, there are many quality pre-made brands. But making your own lets you control the flavor profile.
Q: How long does homemade Jamaican curry powder last?
A: Properly stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place it will last 6 months. After that the flavors and potency slowly diminish.
Q: What's the difference between allspice and pimento?
A: They are the same spice! Pimento is another name for allspice berries.
Making authentic Jamaican curry powder at home opens up a world of flavorful recipe possibilities! With just a few whole spices and basic ingredients you likely already have on hand, you can easily whip up a big batch.
Adjust and customize to suit your personal taste - add more heat, throw in different spices, tone down the allspice - the options are endless. And the ability to control the ingredients also makes this the healthier choice versus store-bought powder.
Once you've mastered homemade Jamaican curry powder, you'll never go back to the pre-made stuff again. Your tastebuds will thank you!
So give this fragrant, vibrant spice blend a try. Get ready to add big, bold Jamaican flavor to all your favorite savory dishes. Welcome to a life with curry!
Jamaican Curry Powder
- 3 Tbsp turmeric - Earthy flavor and yellow color
- 2 tsp ginger - Sweet, spicy flavor
- 1 tsp cinnamon - Warm, sweet flavor
- 1/2 tsp cayenne or scotch bonnet pepper - Spicy heat
- Toast the whole spices in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
- Let cool completely, then grind into a powder.
- Add the ground spices and mix thoroughly to combine.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
- Use 1 Tbsp per 1 lb of protein or veggies when cooking.