I adore curry, and love sampling different types, though admittedly I am no expert when it comes to the nuances between regional varieties. That said, it’s an ingredient I cook with at home often and when I get the chance to try new versions I rarely hesitate.
One of my favorite NYC food stores is Kaluystian’s, located in the Murray Hill neighborhood – sometimes referred to as “Curry Hill” because of the preponderance of Indian restaurants and stores in the area, of which Kaluystian’s is a flagship. Known specifically for its plethora of spices, over the years it has grown into a culinary playground of sorts, packed into an impossibly tiny space as they so often do in Manhattan.
Not too long ago, I came across something I had never tasted but immediately peaked my interest: Sri Lankan Dark Roasted Curry Powder. Dark brown in color, taken to the point of nearly burnt, it is actually often called black curry powder. It can be used like any other curry blend – and I often do use it in my weekly chicken curries – yet introduces an entirely new flavor. And though it is delicious as a foil to chicken, its rich, dark elements also suggest perhaps a better match for heaver meats, such as lamb, mutton or beef.
As any dark roasted foodstuff tends to do, this curry powder shares the essence of coffee and chocolate, but there’s something more complex than that. It does invoke curry, but in a completely different way than the traditional yellow or madras blend might. There’s this lingering aroma, almost like the sweet smoke of a wood fired grill, especially that’s fueled with cherry or apple wood. Even more striking, especially aromatically, is a nutty, browned-butter note that brings unexpected decadence. (Add ghee to accentuate this even further!)
According to Kalustyan’s, roasting the spices “activates the essential oils of each ingredient, bring[ing] out … intense, smoky flavor and depth.” Sure, that works for me. Either way, it is delicious and has become a new pantry staple in my house.
I suggest pairing it with dark beer: black lager, porter or a nice hearty stout.
Ingredients: Coriander, Fennel, Cumin, Cardamom, Cloves, Cinnamon, Mustard, Dill, Dry Pandan Leaves(Rampe), Dry Curry Leaves.