Nonya Curry Powder

nonya curry powder

Hello Everyone! I’m back after a long hiatus with two recipes this week. The first of which is a recipe for Nonya Curry Powder made from scratch. This will be followed by a Singapore-style Chicken Curry Noodles which will require the use of this curry powder.

Happy Cooking!


This curry powder is a versatile one that can be used for a few Singaporean dishes – curry puffs , chicken curry and curry mee. It has Indian and Malay influences and it’s safe to assume that many curry recipes made by Chinese Singaporeans are an adaptation of Singaporean Nonya curries which tend to use less pungent spices than South Indian curries and lean in favour of more citrus and floral notes from coriander seeds. Each family has their own curry powder recipe which is suited to their own family’s palate and is a closely guarded secret only passed on from one generation to the next. Of the several published recipes I was lucky enough to have come across and tried, I really like Sharon Wee’s recipe from ‘Growing Up in a Nonya Kitchen: Asian Recipes from my Mother’ for its aromatic qualities. I’ve adapted it ever so slightly by reducing the overall quantity and swapping white sesame seeds for poppy seeds as the latter is not available in Singapore or Malaysia and sesame seeds are a good alternative. For the best tasting and smelling curry powder, it’s best to source for fresh, whole spices rather than preground ones as the essential oils in all spices are released when they’re ground. This recipe yields a modest quantity. Feel free to experiment with it and use it to flavour your roast meats and vegetables or even in savoury nuts or porridge.

Nonya Curry Powder )

Recipe by: Vasun,

Adapted from: ‘Growing Up in a Nonya Kitchen: Asian Recipes from my Mother’, nonya curry powderSharon Wee, Marshall Cavendish Cuisine (2013)


  • 35 grams dried spur chillies
  • 150 grams coriander seeds
  • 35 grams cumin seeds
  • 20 grams fennel seeds (sometimes mislabelled as aniseed)
  • 5 grams ‘cinnamon’ (cassia)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • about 13-15 grams white peppercorns
  • 1/3 of a small nutmeg
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 50g white sesame seeds
  • 25 grams turmeric powder


  1. Remove any impurities, such as stones, from all ingredients
  2. In a medium skillet, over low flame, dry toast the dried chillies for just 5 seconds. Immediately set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, dry toast the remaining ingredients, except turmeric powder, in batches such that you do not crowd the pan. Dry toast till fragrant. Be careful not to burn the spices.
  4. Let all toasted ingredients completely cool. Grind turmeric powder with the combined spices into a fine powder. I use my indian blender. A coffee grinder should also suffice.
  5. Store in an airtight container. Use within 6 months from date of grinding.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Welcome back, Vasun πŸ˜€
    I will try this for sure!
    Happy Sunday

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vasun says:

      Hey Sid! Hope you’re well πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! And I wish you a wonderful, joyful Monday πŸ€—β˜ΊοΈ

    Liked by 1 person

  3. JIN says:

    Thanks for the great info! I have all listed ingredients in my cupboard, am going to make this very soon πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vasun says:

      That’s great! Hope you get to make a curry or my curry noodles after that πŸ™‚


  4. Ely says:

    Hi, may I ask where do you get dried spur chilli from?


    1. Vasun says:

      Hi Ely! I get them from indian grocers. Spur chillies are the ones commonly found in local markets. The ones from India are more aromatic.


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