Monday, December 30, 2013

Dr. Kitchener's Curry Powder

This essay into Kitchener's Curry Powder and recipe is and must be a work-in-progress.

Per the wiki entry:

William Kitchiner M.D. (1775–1827) was an optician, inventor of telescopes, amateur musician and exceptional cook. His name was a household word during the 19th century, and his Cook’s Oracle was a bestseller in England and America. Unlike most food writers of the time he cooked the food himself, washed up afterwards, and performed all the household tasks he wrote about. He travelled around with his portable cabinet of taste, a folding cabinet containing his mustards and sauces. He was also the creator of Wow-Wow sauce. 

The partial title of his work is:

Apicius redivivus : or, The cook's oracle: wherein especially the art of composing soups, sauces, and flavouring essences is made so clear and easy ... being six hundred receipts, the result of actual experiments instituted in the kitchen of a physician, for the purpose of composing a culinary code for the rational epicure  . . . 

Using Google to find his seminal: The Cook's Oracle I read his recipe as the edition from 1822. It omits the cinnamon from the 1817 edition. One wonders about this omission. And in two other editions the ingredients vary. If you have a local library that has a differing list of ingredients or instructions, please add them via the Comments Section, below. I will amend this post and credit you for your help.

The Cook's Oracle: Containing Receipts for Plain Cookery on the Most ...
By William Kitchiner (1822 edition)

Cheap Curry Powder. (No. 455.)
Dry and reduce the following Spices, &c. to a fine powder . . .

3 ozs. coriander seed
3 ozs. turmeric powder
1 oz black peppercorns
1 oz. mustard seed
1 oz ginger powder
1/2 oz. lesser cardamoms
1/4 oz. chile pepper (hot) original calls for Cayenne the only one available in the 1830's
1/4 oz. cumin seed

To which I add: toast the spices, except the turmeric and ginger. Grind them into a fine powder, mix in the turmeric and ginger. put in a jar with a cap.

The Doctor continues:

Those who are fond of curry sauces may steep 3 ozs. of this in a quart (40 ozs. British) vinegar or white wine for 10 days.

* * * 

The next list if from the 1817 ed. at Hathi Trust, and adds cinnamon.

4 ozs. coriander seed
3 ozs. turmeric
1 oz black pepper
1 oz ginger
1 oz lesser cardamoms
1/4 oz cayenne
1/4 oz cinnamon

Lastly the 1829 edition gives:

Put the following ingredients in a cool oven all night --and the next morning pound them in a marble mortar and rub them through a fine sieve.

3 oz coriander seed
3 oz turmeric
1 oz black pepper
1 oz mustard
1 oz ginger
1/2 oz allspice
1/2 oz lesser cardamoms
1/4 oz cumin seed

substituting allspice for cinnamon?

A brief word about lesser cardamom.

Handbook of Spices, Seasonings, and Flavorings, Second Edition - By Susheela Raghavan

"There are two type of cardamom, true, green or lesser cardamom, and false or greater cardamom. There are many grades of true or green cardamom, depending on their origins. The cheaper or false cardamom is from Nepal, Vietnam, West Africa, and Bengal. It is bigger and dark brown or blackish brown with a very different flavor profile from true cardamom.

Scientific Names(s): True or "lesser" cardamom: elettaria cardamomum (Malabar, Myster' false or "greater" cardamom: Amomum (A) or Afromomum subalatum ...

If you buy the green cardamom pods, break them open and discard the pod. The seeds, smaller than a mustard seed are black. Do not confuse this with the "greater" cardamom, above.

Lastly from:

An Olla Podrida: Or, Scraps, Numismatic, Antiquarian, and Literary, Volume 2  By Richard Sainthill


When I resided in London, during my younger days, I had Oriental friends; so I became an eater and consequently a lover of curries. Dining with an Eastern in my late visit to London, curry very naturally became a topic of conversation, though not on the hospitable board; and I mentioned that, since 1823, I had got my curry-powder compounded at Apothecaries' Hall from Dr. Kitchener's "Cook's Oracle," page 363, Receipt 455 (3rd edition, 1821). And on my return to Cork I sent my good friend a specimen sample of the curry, and the following copy of the receipt from which it was compounded, and in return received from him a receipt how curry is made in India: on submitting which to "the authorities" who rule "the stew-pan" in my kitchen, I was informed that they had always added onions and half a lemon to Dr. Kitchener's curry-powder, agreeably to his instructions for "curries" at p. 395, No. 497.

I shall therefore now copy Dr. Kitchener's receipt for making the curry-powder, and instructions for dressing curry. And our Madam Soyers of middle life, comparing, contrasting, and weighing the Indian with the English components and manipulation, may add increased excellency to this attractive dish; and which doing, my labours of transcription will be well and amply repaid.

"Curry Powder (No. 455).

"Dry and reduce the following spices, &c. to a fine powder:—
"Coriander seed, three ounces.
"Turmeric, three ounces.
"Black pepper, one ounce.
"Ginger, one ounce.
"Lesser cardamoms, one ounce.
 a quarter ounce of each:
"Cayenne pepper,
"Cummin seed.

"Thoroughly pound and mix these together, and keep them in a well-stopped bottle." "

I see the addition of the lemon as essential. One may prefer the Key Lime and I wouldn't quibble about that. And no curry is made without onions and I'm leaning towards making mine with the addition of onion powder. That is to say that the curry powder may be dry rubbed on the meat or fish and then introduced into the hot oil or soup broth. More curry powder being added if desired.