|Region or state||Indian subcontinent|
|Main ingredients||Spices (coriander, turmeric, cumin, chili peppers)|
Curry powder is a spice mix originating from British India, not to be confused with the native spice mix of garam masala.
Key ingredients of curry powder are ginger, garlic, fennel, mace, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric and have been in use for over 4000 years, at least since the Indus Valley civilization. As commercially available in Western markets, curry powder is comparable to the traditional Indian concoction of spices known as "garam masala".
Conceived as a ready-made ingredient intended to replicate the flavor of an Indian sauce, it was first sold by Indian merchants to British traders.
Curry powder was used as an ingredient in 18th-century British recipe books, and commercially available from the late 18th century, with brands such as Crosse & Blackwell and Sharwood's persisting to the present. The ingredient "curry powder", along with instructions on how to produce it, are also seen in 19th Century US and Australian cookbooks, and advertisements.
British traders introduced the powder to Meiji Japan, in the mid-19th century, where it became known as Japanese curry.
In the West, the word "curry" is a broad reference to various Indian curries prepared with different combinations of spices in the Indian subcontinent. The sauce-like component characterized with "curry" has been derived from the Tamil word kaṟi meaning 'sauce' or 'relish for rice', and finds synonyms with other regional references to local dishes evolving over thousands of years in the Indian subcontinent, such as "jhol", "shorba" and "kalia".
A number of standards on curry powder have been defined. Most outline analytical requirements such as moisture, ash content, and oil content as well as permissible additives. Some also define a number of expected ingredients.
In the United States, curry powder is expected to contain at least these ingredients: turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, ginger, and cardamom.
The 1999 East African Standard (EAS 98:1999) does not define an ingredient baseline. A newer 2017 draft from Uganda does require turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek and mustard.
The Indian (FSSAI), Pakistani (PS:1741-1997), and international (ISO 2253:1999) standards do not define a baseline of essential ingredients.
One tablespoon (6.3 g) of typical curry powder contains the following nutrients according to the USDA:
No Indian, however, would have referred to his or her food as a curry. The idea of a curry is, in fact, a concept that the Europeans imposed on India's food culture. Indians referred to their different dishes by specific names ... But the British lumped all these together under the heading of curry.