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.
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The Hirshon French Vadouvan Curry Powder
- Total Time: 0 hours
- 3/4 pound onion, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
- 1/3 pound shallots, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced (1 1/2 tablespoons)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 tablespoon mustard oil (preferred) – only one brand of mustard oil is FDA approved for cooking, this is it! or just use vegetable oil
- 1/4 teaspoon lightly toasted fenugreek seeds
- 1 teaspoon fresh curry leaves, cut into thin slices
- 1/4 teaspoon lightly toasted ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon lightly toasted brown mustard seeds (omit if using mustard oil)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon lightly toasted cardamom seeds
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch Kashmiri chili powder
- Pinch ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground, lightly toasted black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the onions in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped, then transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the shallots, then the garlic, adding them to the same bowl.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet over high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring often, for 25 to 30 minutes, until the mixture is golden and browned in spots. Add a tablespoon of oil if needed.
- Meanwhile, use an electric spice grinder or a mortar and pestle to grind the toasted whole spices. Add to the skillet, along with the remaining spices, stirring to mix well.
- Transfer the mixture to the lined baking sheet, spreading it evenly to the edges of the paper. Bake, stirring occasionally, for 60 to 75 minutes, until the vadouvan has browned and is barely moist.
- Let cool slightly, then transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse just until no large chunks of onion or shallot remain; the consistency will be somewhat coarse and a little loose.
- Let cool completely before serving or storing.
- Prep Time: 0 hours
- Cook Time: 0 hours
- Category: Recipes
- Calories: 172.75 kcal
- Sugar: 7.6 g
- Sodium: 349.69 mg
- Fat: 10.81 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.85 g
- Trans Fat: 0.07 g
- Carbohydrates: 18.38 g
- Fiber: 3.49 g
- Protein: 2.61 g
- Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
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