My enthusiasm for DIY spills over into nearly every part of my life, and most definitely into my cooking. I’m not saying I never go the store bought route when buying ingredients, because sometimes I do. There are some ‘convenience foods’ that are just too darn, well, convenient to pass up. It’s just that I’m always wondering ‘hmmmmm, how could I make this myself?’
Having a husband who can eat virtually no sodium, I really can’t use very many pre-made ingredients, which challenges me to make things I might not have attempted otherwise. Really though, this is just an excuse I use to justify the many hours I spend on kitchen DIY projects. The truth is, I enjoy the process. I love knowing that I grew the tomatoes, harvested them, canned them, and then used them to cook something delicious. In fact, I’m pretty sure it makes the food taste just a little bit better (at least in my mind) when I know I’ve made it all from scratch. Plus, I know exactly what’s in it and where it came from – something that is becoming increasingly more important (and more unusual) in this age of industrialized food production.
My point is, that this, and many of my other kitchen diy projects, are probably not strictly necessary. There are lots perfectly good chili powder blends available at your local supermarket (or by mail order if you’re super picky like I am). I happen to really like my own version that I’m sharing here with you today, but I make it not because it’s cheaper, or easier, or better (although it is) than store bought – but because I like to. So, if you don’t enjoy the process, don’t bother. But if you’re like me, and part of the enjoyment is in the making, then I guarantee this chili powder will knock your socks off (and make your next batch of chili the best you’ve ever made)!
Most chili powders are more than just ground chili peppers. The peppers are an essential component, but they also have lots of other ingredients. The photo above is of all the components that I used to make my chili powder blend.
A mixture of different types of chilies is essential to creating a chili powder with a balanced flavor – rich and subtly sweet with just the right amount of heat.
Sweet Little Sparrow - Homemade Chili Powder
- 2 ounces New Mexico Chilies
- 1 1/2 ounces Negro Chilies
- 1 ounce Ancho Chilies
- 1/2 ounce Puya Chilies
- 2 Arbol Chilies
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
- 1 whole clove
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
- 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seed
- 1 tablespoon hot paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Wearing gloves to protect your hands from the chilies, tear them into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces. Discard the stems and seeds. (You can reserve some of the seeds and add them in later with the dried ingredients for extra heat. Personally though, I think it’s plenty spicy without the seeds!)
- Toast chilies (except for the Arbol chilies – they can get bitter if they’re toasted), cinnamon stick, clove, coriander, and cumin seeds in a large skillet over medium high heat, stirring frequently, for approximately 3 to 5 minutes, or until they smell fragrant. Watch carefully to make sure the spices don’t burn. If the chilies start to smoke, turn down the heat. Remove from the pan and let cool.
- Working in batches, grind chilies in a spice grinder until no large pieces remain. Add remaining spices and process in the spice grinder again until fully mixed and uniform in texture.
- Store in an airtight container. Use within 6 months.
Hope you have as much fun making this as I did. Oh, and I’m not kidding about the gloves…PLEASE wear gloves when you’re working with hot chili peppers! Even dried peppers have plenty of oil left in them to burn your fingers, or worse, your eyes the first time you rub them…
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