One of my favorite things about cooking is concocting. Making my own herbs and spice blends, flavored oils and vinegars is some of the fun. There is great joy in taking classic dishes and making them uniquely your own. Chili powder is one of the seasoning blends I think is much better crafted to your own preferences and result in a “secret ingredient.”
When I was taking culinary classes associated with my holistic nutrition degree, I was introduced to the Culinary Institute of America’s book, Techniques of Healthy Cooking. I still turn to it a lot for reference. The recipe below is based on one from this book.
Chili powder is simple to make, taking under 10 minutes. Most ingredients are easily located at the grocery store, and the flavor can be adjusted based on the type of chili you use. The result is far more complex and versatile than the store bought blends. I use this in tortilla soup, posole, meat rubs, various marinades, salad dressings, and of course, in a good hearty chili.
Feel free to play with this recipe and adjust it to suit your personal tastes. That’s half the fun of making your own seasoning blends from the basic spices and herbs on hand.
6 Tablespoons Chili, dried and ground (see notes)
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Mexican Oregano Leaves, dried
3/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/8 Teaspoon Chile de Arbol, ground (optional - can substitute Cayenne)
Mix all ingredients together and store in a tightly covered container.
Chili: I prefer Ancho chili over all other chili for this blend, but also use Pasilla. When mixing, I do a ratio of 2/3 Ancho to 1/3 Pasilla. Ancho gives it a bright red coloring and Pasilla offers a toasted brown. Ancho is sweet and smokey. Pasilla is hotter. The combo of the two makes for a great base for the rest of the flavors.
Cumin: I reduced the original recipe by 1/2 as I am not a huge fan of Cumin. It is necessary and if you don’t use it at all, you will find something missing, but since I don’t love it, I reduced the amounts. Go easy with this ingredient because it has a very distinct flavor and can overpower all of the rest of the ingredients. You can always adjust and add more to your liking.
Garlic: I love garlic. Also a heavy flavor. I increased the original recipe slightly. Modify to your tastes.
Oregano: Mexican Oregano is traditional here, and readily found in the international food isle of the grocery store. I grow and dry my own more traditional Italian Oregano, and use it in my blend quite successfully.
Coriander: Ground coriander refers to the seed, not the leaf of the plant also commonly known as Cilantro. I love the toasty, earthy flavor the addition of coriander brings to the blend and use it liberally.
Chili de Arbol: I also add Chili de Arbol to this recipe for an extra little kick. It can be reduced or omitted if you are sensitive to the heat of this chili. Cayenne can be used as a substitute.