Substitute It: You Can Make Your Own Curry Powder For Pinoy Chicken Curry

IMAGE Sharon Ang from Pixabay

Chicken curry is not a Filipino dish. However, that doesn't mean that we can't love it! 

The chicken curry we know was introduced to us by the Indians. With the limited amount of spices and herbs that should be in the authentic version, the local version of the curry was the best the foreign Indians could make with the ingredients they had access to. 

This chicken curry can be made from scratch.
Photo by Sharon Ang from Pixabay

That's not to say that it's not delicious. It is! That's why it's so popular even amongst those who don't like the spiciness. The mildness of this curry may be what makes it so popular. It's universally loved, especially for its creaminess from the coconut! 

Those of us who have made the yellow chicken curry, we usually use a packet of premade yellow curry powder. According to the packet, it's made with at least 12 spices and herbs, excluding turmeric, MSG, onion, powdered milk, salt, garlic, and some other ingredients. The main ingredient here is really the ground turmeric since this is responsible for the brilliant golden yellow hue of the curry.

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However, did you know you can make your own yellow curry powder? You can! Making your own yellow curry powder to make into the Filipino chicken curry can be easy. You just need a few ingredients to do it. 


To make your own version of this yellow curry powder, you can grind whole spices, fresh herbs, and use fresh aromatics like onion and celery into a paste or, to make it easier on you, mix preground versions of these. Whichever way you choose to make your curry seasoning mix, here's a general list of spices and aromatics that you might want to add to your yellow curry seasoning mix: 

  1. turmeric 
  2. coriander seeds
  3. cumin 
  4. cinnamon
  5. black peppercorns 
  6. mustard seeds 
  7. fenugreek 
  8. cardamom
  9. ginger 
  10. chili peppers 
  11. fresh onion 
  12. fresh garlic 
  13. fresh celery 

We know that's a long list! Not everyone has all of these spices on hand! If you do, you're a few steps away from an awesome chicken curry recipe! 

Use whole spices for the best flavor.
Photo by Claudio Maldonado from Pixabay

For those of us who don't have as well a stocked kitchen, the homemade version that we suggest is something more manageable (aka a shorter list of ingredients) but still quite delicious despite it missing a few of these ingredients. You'll need a few ingredients but the resulting dish is still quite fantastic. 

Here are the ingredients that you'll need to put together: 

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 pod green cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 
  • 1 siling labuyo (optional for some heat), seeds removed, roughly chopped, more if desired 
  • 1 small red onion, peeled, roughly chopped 
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped 
  • 1-inch piece fresh turmeric, roughly chopped  
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk celery stalk, roughly chopped

To create your own yellow curry paste, here's what to do with these ingredients: 

  1. 1. In a dry frying pan over medium heat, add coriander seeds, cardamom, and cumin seeds. Fry the seeds, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until toasted. (You'll know it's ready when the seeds have all become lightly browned and their aromas waft from the pan.) Remove from the heat and transfer to a plate to cool completely. 
  2. 2. In a large mortar, transfer the now cooled spices and, using a pestle, grind these spices together until finely ground. (Alternatively, you can use a spice grinder.) 
  3. 3. Once the spices are ground to a powder, add the siling labuyo (if using), onion, garlic, turmeric, ginger, and celery stems. Gently pound these ingredients together until it forms a paste. Set aside. 
  4. 4. When chicken pieces have been fried, add curry paste to the remaining oil and saute until aromatic. Return the fried chicken, add coconut milk, and bring to a simmer until the chicken is tender. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste. 

Yes, it can be this easy to make your own curry seasoning mix from scratch! What's great about this homemade recipe is the fact that your ingredients are as fresh as it can get! You just can't beat the intense flavor and freshness of a homemade curry paste. 

We know how easy it is to grab a packet and use it to make your chicken curry. However, when you're not limited by time and ingredients or you just crave the homemade chicken curry that it is uniquely the Pinoy chicken curry, try this recipe and discover that you can your nostalgic Filipino dish whenever you want. As long as you have the ingredients, you can make it, no matter where you may be. 


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