Question 2 specific types of curry, what are they.

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Ok I should've been clearer in my previous post that I meant "chilli powder is not a blend" in the context of Indian cuisine; admittedly that's not the case elsewhere! Yep that kind of blend is not common here in Europe afaik, though as mentioned I have come across one before and it's really quite good. Though curious where it originates from and where/how it's typically used? 

Kaffir limes, wow, do you also get the limes themselves? I recently found the fruit for sale in a local farmer's market, though haven't tried them. I know the rinds are used in thai curry pastes but not sure where else. The local Asian market also stopped selling the fresh frozen leaves, but I've still got a box of these which I bought years ago (apparently don't use them anywhere near enough) and they still keep their flavour and texture after all this time! Curry leaves are a totally different story.

And unfortunately I have nowhere near the right climate to grow any of this stuff, as much as I would love to try (and have seriously considered trying) growing a curry leaf tree. What kind of climates are you guys growing them in (and presumably keeping them alive :) )?
 
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Mine is easy....
I live in Zambia and even though we are landlocked, the climate is pretty similar to Thailand (just slightly less humid, most of the time).

It never freezes, not even any chance of night frost.

The others that mentioned they have a plant need to put in a much bigger effort to keep it alive.
I am the biggest challenge to the tree/bush. When the tree was still very small, I had to be careful not to eat the leaves faster than they could grow.

By the way, I had a good giggle about the flavour/flavor comment...
 

pete

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Ok I should've been clearer in my previous post that I meant "chilli powder is not a blend" in the context of Indian cuisine; admittedly that's not the case elsewhere! Yep that kind of blend is not common here in Europe afaik, though as mentioned I have come across one before and it's really quite good. Though curious where it originates from and where/how it's typically used? 
Yes, it does seem counter intuitive that "chili powder" in the US would be a spice blend and not just dried powdered chili peppers, but what is sold in the US as "chili powder" is a blend like I described.  The really sad thing is, most people here probably don't even realize that it is a blend of spices not just ground up chili peppers.  They just throw it into anything "Mexican" without thinking, although I think that mindset is changing.

As for what it is used for, it is a blend of mildly spicy chili peppers along with other spices often found in the flavors of Tex-Mex and Northern Mexico cooking and is most commonly used in making Chili (which in and of itself can require another whole conversation about what it is and isn't).
 
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 Kaffir limes, wow, do you also get the limes themselves?
Yes. Up until this summer, I've picked off the flowers and limes to encourage the leaves, but I left the limes on this year. You can see them in the picture above.  They're small, the biggest is about an inch in diameter, but very intense. Well worth it.

I'm in zone 8b, so bring it in for the winter. Seems to work ok so far --  this plant was only $20 and was quite small when we got it.

I'll try curry leaves next year!
 
965
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Joined Apr 4, 2012
 
Yes, it does seem counter intuitive that "chili powder" in the US would be a spice blend and not just dried powdered chili peppers, but what is sold in the US as "chili powder" is a blend like I described.  The really sad thing is, most people here probably don't even realize that it is a blend of spices not just ground up chili peppers.  They just throw it into anything "Mexican" without thinking, although I think that mindset is changing.

As for what it is used for, it is a blend of mildly spicy chili peppers along with other spices often found in the flavors of Tex-Mex and Northern Mexico cooking and is most commonly used in making Chili (which in and of itself can require another whole conversation about what it is and isn't).
I think the evolution of "chili powder" in the US is probably something akin to the evolution of "curry powder" in the Commonwealth countries. People tasted Mexican or Tex-Mex food and wanted to get something of the flavor at home but the ingredients were unavailable or somehow scary/confusing/overwhelming so companies like McCormick filled the gap.

When I was growing up in the 1960s & 70s, food here was so bland and uninteresting, the liberal use of chili powder was actually pretty edgy. I remember eating vaguely Mexican dishes that always had a halo of chili-powder-reddened grease seeping around the grease-and cheese sodden tortilla chips--which were often Fritos--and thinking it was somehow exotic. Even now, I think for most people finding varietal dried chilies is still confusing and overwhelming. You have to go into ethnic markets, which most people do not have access to--or are uncomfortable doing--and then decide which chilies to buy and what to do with them to use them up is hard.

My problem is I love ethnic markets and have access to markets from all over the world. It's hard to cook and eat enough food to make use of the bounty. I have more partially finished bags of dried chilies than you can shake a stick at. My neighborhood fruit market is Mexican. So many chilies. And the packages they come in are not small.
 
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Joined Sep 5, 2016
 
I think the evolution of "chili powder" in the US is probably something akin to the evolution of "curry powder" in the Commonwealth countries. People tasted Mexican or Tex-Mex food and wanted to get something of the flavor at home but the ingredients were unavailable or somehow scary/confusing/overwhelming so companies like McCormick filled the gap.

When I was growing up in the 1960s & 70s, food here was so bland and uninteresting, the liberal use of chili powder was actually pretty edgy. I remember eating vaguely Mexican dishes that always had a halo of chili-powder-reddened grease seeping around the grease-and cheese sodden tortilla chips--which were often Fritos--and thinking it was somehow exotic. Even now, I think for most people finding varietal dried chilies is still confusing and overwhelming. You have to go into ethnic markets, which most people do not have access to--or are uncomfortable doing--and then decide which chilies to buy and what to do with them to use them up is hard.

My problem is I love ethnic markets and have access to markets from all over the world. It's hard to cook and eat enough food to make use of the bounty. I have more partially finished bags of

dried chilies than you can shake a stick at. My neighborhood fruit market is Mexican. So many chilies. And the packages they come in are not small.
That's pretty interesting, and sounds like something that probably happened in many places around the world. Apparently, only decades ago, any given dish would have been much more bland than what we're now used to, especially as food products are steadily increasing in salt, sugar and fat content, and then add to that the explosion of the popularity of foreign cuisines and the myriad spices and ingredients that typically accompanies (especially) Asian food. Many cookbooks from only a decade or two ago would suggest all sorts of substitutes (or dried/frozen versions instead of fresh, etc) as opposed to now when you can pretty much get any food product you want from anywhere around the world, in most big cities.

Hehe I also go crazy in these ethnic shops, maybe not as much as at the beginning when it was ALL new to me; I didn't know where to look! And yes I also hoarded of all sorts of ingredients, some of which I bought for one specific dish... which recently forced me into a massive cleanout and inventory!

For me, the best part was always discovering new ingredients, and learning how to use them properly, without necessarily having to follow a recipe. I'm now at a stage where I'm comfortable enough with most of them, and have a good idea of what goes with what, which allows me to rediscover them by creating new dishes. And I have to do this otherwise I'll never use them up ;)
 

pete

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Don't get me wrong, I believe that American Chili Powder (the blend) and Curry Powder both have their uses and I use them quite often (of course not interchangeably!!! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif).  But, especially with Chili Powder, here in the US, it's important to understand that when using it you are adding a whole bunch of other spices to whatever dish you are adding it to, also.  I still rarely make a pot of chili that doesn't contain, at least some amount of chili powder, even when I am using a variety of chilies that I have toasted, rehydrated and pureed myself.  And it always makes an appearance when I am making a batch of the chili that I grew up with which is more of a soup than traditional chili.  And as for that yellow powder, called Curry Powder, well there are just some dishes that it is a must in.  Sure they aren't "traditional" Indian or Thai dishes, but there will always be a spot for Curry Powder in my spice drawer along with my garam masala and my various other spice blends.
 
965
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Joined Apr 4, 2012
 
Don't get me wrong, I believe that American Chili Powder (the blend) and Curry Powder both have their uses and I use them quite often (of course not interchangeably!!! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif).  But, especially with Chili Powder, here in the US, it's important to understand that when using it you are adding a whole bunch of other spices to whatever dish you are adding it to, also.  I still rarely make a pot of chili that doesn't contain, at least some amount of chili powder, even when I am using a variety of chilies that I have toasted, rehydrated and pureed myself.  And it always makes an appearance when I am making a batch of the chili that I grew up with which is more of a soup than traditional chili.  And as for that yellow powder, called Curry Powder, well there are just some dishes that it is a must in.  Sure they aren't "traditional" Indian or Thai dishes, but there will always be a spot for Curry Powder in my spice drawer along with my garam masala and my various other spice blends.
Agreed. I use both as well, but I make my own, rather than buying off the shelf. As with all spices, fresh is best and roasting the spices before grinding them makes chili powder and curry powder much more delicious. Ditto for garam masala. Even the premade garam masala from the S Asian/Indian market is pretty tasteless.
 
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Agreed. I use both as well, but I make my own, rather than buying off the shelf. As with all spices, fresh is best and roasting the spices before grinding them makes chili powder and curry powder much more delicious. Ditto for garam masala. Even the premade garam masala from the S Asian/Indian market is pretty tasteless.
I agree with making my own when possible but when well-meaning friends have given me a pre-made spice mix, quite a bit of taste can still be salvaged by frying them.  I can't help it.  I hate to waste.
 

pete

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Joined Oct 7, 2001
 
Agreed. I use both as well, but I make my own, rather than buying off the shelf. As with all spices, fresh is best and roasting the spices before grinding them makes chili powder and curry powder much more delicious. Ditto for garam masala. Even the premade garam masala from the S Asian/Indian market is pretty tasteless.
I make a lot of my own spice blends, garam masala being one of them, but I have to admit that you will always find store bought chili powder and curry powder in spice drawer, though in my defense, they are rarely used alone, and almost always fried when using to liven them up.
 
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Joined Sep 5, 2016
I do mostly use bought garam masala, TRS brand, which is decent, but I use very little of it in the first place, prefering to feature the other spices that are added at the beginning of a dish, which are generally sautéed along with ginger/garlic, onions, etc.

But I do make my own mixes for spices that are more prominently featured in a dish, like goda/kala masala (long list of spices, which are roasted till dark brown), biryani masala, chaat masala, sambhar masala, and other South Indian "podis" or powders which are sort of general purpose, used almost as seasonings.

And the toasting and the grinding is often the best part, especially if using a mortar ... as the aromas of all those freshly toasted spices are released as you grind away ... :)
 
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Joined Sep 21, 2010
Bringing back this thread from last year because I wanted to show how my kaffir lime tree looks once I bring it outside after overwintering indoors.

It dropped a lot of leaves over this year's unusually long winter, but they're growing back now. The limes stayed on all winter and are growing again. It will be big & bushy in a couple of months. 

If it grows here, it will grow pretty much anywhere.


 
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