Citizens, most curry powders are of Anglo-Indian origin – but not this one!
Vadouvan is a ready-to-use blend of spices that is in fact a French derivative of an Indian masala known as vadavam (வடவம்), a spice blend incorporating oil, roasted onion and roasted shallot. The spice blend is thought to have originated from French colonial influence in the Puducherry region of India.
Vadavam is used for tempering dishes such as traditional brinjal and avarakai poriyal as well as all sorts of kuzhambus (குழம்பு வகைகள்). It gives all of these dishes a special and very unique flavor.
Indian recipes for vadavam blends vary, but at a minimum must contain pounded onion, garlic, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and fenugreek. The mixture is dried in the sun and then crushed, mixed with castor oil (which has preservative properties), and rolled into balls which are then dried for several more days.
Similarly, western recipes for vadouvan use onions, garlic, spices and oil, but the drying is done using an oven instead.
My version uniquely uses a touch of mustard oil instead of mustard seeds for a sharper flavor I find very pleasing but which is totally optional. I’ve also added a touch of cardamom as I find it harmonizes well in the blend.
Vadouvan can be made in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container for 1 month or frozen for up to 6 months. Use it wherever you would both use curry powder, but the roasted flavors add a unique depth to any recipe, similar to the spices found in Sri Lankan roasted curry powder.
Battle on – The Generalissimo