No curry powder? No problem! If you don't have curry powder right now, but need it for a recipe, don't worry! There are plenty of excellent curry powder substitutes that you can use in your cooking. And you'll probably have most of them in your cupboard! In this article, we'll explore what curry powder is, the different types of curry powders available, and the best substitutes and spice blends for when you need to replace it in your recipes.
🤔 What is curry powder?
Curry powder is a popular spice blend used in various cuisines, especially Indian, Pakistani, and Southeast Asian dishes. It is a blend of different spices that varies from region to region, and it can be challenging to find the right blend for a recipe.
🌶 What Spices Are Used in Curry Powder?
Curry powder is a blend of different spice powders that can include turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, black mustard seeds, chili, and more. The blend varies based on the region and the cook's preferences.
The mixture of spices creates a unique flavor that is both savory and slightly sweet, and offers a complex flavor. It's used to add flavor and color to dishes like curries, roasted vegetables and rice dishes. And in addition it often has warm and savory notes.
There are different types of curry powders, such as Indian curry powder, Thai curry powder, and Malaysian curry powder.
The Indian version tends to be milder, while Thai curry powder is spicier, and Malaysian curry powder is sweeter. The types of curry powders also vary in terms of color, texture, and flavor intensity.
🙋♀️ What does curry powder taste like?
Traditional curry powder has a complex and distinct flavor profile that varies depending on the spices used in the blend.
However, in general, curry powder has a savory, slightly sweet, and earthy taste with a hint of spice. As found in this amazing seitan curry.
The turmeric in the blend gives it a slightly bitter taste and a bright yellow color, while the coriander adds a citrusy and sweet flavor.
The cumin and mustard seeds in the blend give it a slight nuttiness and smokiness. Overall, it has a rich and aromatic taste that adds depth and complexity to a variety of dishes.
🌟 Best Substitutes for Curry Powder
1. Indian Curry Paste
If you're looking to substitute curry powder, then curry paste is probably one of the best curry powder substitutes!
It will contain roughly the same flavours, but in a curry paste form rather than powder. It will often include toasted coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cardamom and even fennels seeds and cloves sometimes.
So, if you've got madras curry paste, korma paste or even tikka masala, any of those will work.
They obviously each have a unique flavor profile, but if you're looking for a curry flavor and you're not too fussy, then this is the best option. You can then tweak the flavor by adding more chili powder (e.g. if you want your curry to be spicier), more garam masala for extra fragrance, cumin seeds or even coriander seeds for more intensity.
2. Madras Curry Powder
My personal favourite is madras curry powder! That's because it's my favourite curry. Madras curry powder is spicier than standard curry powder, but offers a fantastic flavor.
It's generally made with cayenne pepper, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground black pepper, salt, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and turmeric powder. We have a lush cauliflower madras recipe, that includes a recipe for homemade madras curry paste. It's delicious.
Use in a 1:1 ratio when replacing curry powder, but be mindful that it is spicier.
3. Tandoori Masala
Tandoori masala has similar qualities to standard curry powder, so it makes a good replacement. It features ground coriander, ginger, cloves, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder, nutmeg, and fenugreek.
Tandoori masala has more of a savory flavor profile than curry powder, so bare than in mind when cooking with it. It's a good curry powder substitute.
Use tandoori masala in a 0.5:1 ratio as a substitute for curry powder.
4. Garam masala
Garam Masala is a traditional Indian spice blend that can be used as a substitute for curry powder. It's a staple of a household spice rack all over the world! It is a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cumin, coriander, and black pepper.
Garam Masala has a warm, earthy flavor that brings a certain intensity to curries. It has a fragrance and, almost aniseed quality, that can be an acquired taste.
Bear in mind that garam masala is often used to season curry dishes, added at the end. When it's cooked with rest of the spices, it offers a different flavor.
However, it is more intense than a standard curry powder. So use in a 0.75: 1 ratio.
5. Chaat Masala
If you like to cook Indian dishes a lot, then you may have chaat masala in the spice rack. If not, then this may not be one of the best curry powder substitutes for you!
Chaat masala has a similar flavor profile to curry powder, only it has a little bit of citrus and sweet flavor added too. That's often from mango powder (amchoor).
It's a spice blend that is actually usually used to season fried snacks, so it is quite flavorful. Be aware of this when using as a curry powder substitute.
Chaat masala is often spicier than curry powder, so use in a 0.75:1 ratio.
6. Ground Cumin
Ground cumin powder (or cumin seeds) is a spice with a slightly smoky, earthy flavor that is commonly used in Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisine.
It can be used as a substitute for curry powder to add depth and flavor, as long as it is paired with other spices.
We recommend pairing ground cumin with ground coriander, turmeric powder and chili powder for best results.
7. Ground Coriander
Coriander, or ground coriander seeds, is a spice with a citrusy, sweet flavor that is often used in Indian and Mexican cuisine. It can be used as a substitute for curry powder in curries. While ground coriander has a great flavor, it isn't as well rounded as curry powder.
Depending on what it is paired with, it can create many different flavors.
When paired with chili powder (or even red pepper flakes), ground cumin powder and coriander powder (or coriander seeds) and turmeric, it will make a great curry powder substitute.
8. Turmeric and Ground Chili powder
Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that is often used in curry powder blends. It has a slightly bitter, warm flavor and can be used to add color and flavor to curries, soups and rice dishes.
This is a great way to replace curry powder as you get the colour and a similar, if not perfect flavor. Similar spices are used in this delicious brinjal bhaji recipe.
Use a 50/50 mix of turmeric and chili powder, and then when a recipe calls for a teaspoon of curry powder, you can replace it in a 1:1 ratio.
9. Turmeric + Cumin
As with the option of turmeric and ground chili, turmeric and chili powder is a great option, especially if you don't want to make a spicy curry. If you do want to make a spicier curry, just add a little chili too - it can be powdered, as chili flakes or freshly chopped!
A blend of a few different spices can work well as curry powder substitutes, so don't be afraid to mix and match. A fantastic curry powder substitute, as mentioned above, is turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and a classic chili powder. This will actually make one of the best curry powder alternatives.
When cooked with fresh garlic, garlic paste or even garlic powder, fresh ginger (or ginger powder) and fresh onions (or onion powder in a pinch), you're sure to make a delicious curry! Like in this aubergine and cauliflower curry. It's so simple but effective!
Use a 50/50 mix of turmeric and ground cumin powder, and then when a recipe calls for a teaspoon of curry powder, you can replace it in a 1:1 ratio.
10. Sambar Powder
Sambar powder is used in south Indian dishes, but probably isn't a great substitute for curry powder because it is not a common cupboard ingredient. If you do have it, then it would be a good option to replace curry powder. It usually contains ground coriander seeds, cumin, toor dal, chana dal, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and dried red chili peppers. It's often spicier than curry powder.
A note about Chinese 5 Spice blends
A lot of people recommend Chinese 5 spice powder. We don't. It's from the wrong cuisine and offers a completely different flavor to Indian curry powders! It offers complex flavors that are synonymous with many Chinese dishes. It does feature peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, and fennel seeds but it's also sweet and salty. That's not what we're looking for!
You can use various substitutes for curry powder, such as Garam Masala, turmeric, cumin, paprika, and coriander. Homemade curry powder is a great way to customise a spice blend to your preferences.
You can adjust the quantities of each spice based on your taste (or what's in the cupboard) and experiment with different spices to create a unique blend. Homemade curry powder can be used in a variety of recipes, including curries, stews, soups, and marinades. Enjoy the rich and aromatic flavors of this homemade spice blend!
It's a blend of different spices that can include turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, mustard seeds, chili, and more.
No, curry powder is not just turmeric. While turmeric is a key ingredient in many curry powder blends, curry powder is typically a mix of several spices, including turmeric, coriander, cumin, and others.
Yes, Garam Masala can be used as a curry powder substitute. It is a traditional Indian spice blend that can be used in curries and stews. However, the flavor profile of Garam Masala is slightly different from curry powder, so it may not be an exact replacement in all recipes.
Curry powder is a flavorful spice blend that is commonly used in Indian, Pakistani, and Southeast Asian cuisine.
However, if you haven't got any curry powder, there are many excellent curry powder substitutes available. Garam Masala, turmeric, cumin, and coriander are all great options to add flavor and depth to your dishes.
Spice blends like garam masala, sambar powder and tandoori powder can work well too. Experiment with different spices to find the perfect blend for your recipe, and enjoy the rich flavor of your curry dish!
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Homemade curry powder substitute
- 3 tablespoons ground coriander
- 3 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- In a mixing bowl, combine all of the spices until well mixed.3 tablespoons ground coriander, 3 tablespoons ground cumin, 2 tablespoons ground turmeric, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon ground cardamom, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Transfer the spice mixture to an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place.
- Use as needed in recipes calling for curry powder.