Homemade chile powder, so rich, red and flavorful, is an ingredient I cannot live without. I use it with so many things, including my salsa, my eggs, my beans, my steaks, my tacos, my enchilada sauce and, of course, my chili. I’ve said this before, homemade chile powder is far superior to any store-bought brand, and it’s not that difficult to make.
I reckon the biggest challenge to making homemade chile powder is finding the right kind of chiles. But even if your usual market doesn’t have these, I bet there is a Latino population somewhere in your area where you can find a Mexican grocer. Or you could order online from places such as MexGrocer, Penzeys or Amazon.
The cool thing about making your own chile powder is you are in control of the flavor–it can be as hot or mild as you want it to be. I will provide you with my general recipe, but feel free to experiment, that’s part of the fun! Another thing to keep in mind is that there are two kinds of chile powder–chile powder with other spices and pure chile powder that’s nothing but ground chiles. The latter yields an explosive chile blast, which I find ideal when making chili. But for everyday sprinkling, I prefer the all-in-one chile powder blended with garlic, cumin and oregano.
Here’s what I do. I start with an assortment of dried chiles, usually 3 anchos, 3 chipotles and 3 guajillos. I cut off the stems, slit them open, and take out the seeds (I find shaking them over the sink is the easiest method as the seeds can fly everywhere). I then lay them flat in a foil-lined pan and them roast them in the oven at 300 degrees for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can roast them in an ungreased cast-iron skillet until they blister, about 5 minutes. Take the roasted chiles, crumble them into a bowl and then grind them in a spice grinder or blender.
Dried chiles made into powder on their own is known as chile powder. But when you add other spices, such as cumin and garlic, however, it becomes chili powder, and is a common ingredient in its namesake dish (though goes well with many other things, too).
If I want to make a chili powder blend, I roast a couple of tablespoons of cumin seeds with the chiles, and then grind the seed/pepper mix with a couple of tablespoons of garlic powder and a tablespoon of oregano (Mexican oregano if you can find it).
When roasting the chiles, there will be some searing smoke. Note that this is potent stuff that can burn your eyes and lungs a bit, so be careful. Also, you might want to wear gloves when touching the chiles as the oils are fiery.
Store your powder in an airtight container, and it should keep for a month.