Curry powder is used in sauces to marinades worldwide, but what happens when you are in the middle of cooking and realize you are out? No fear; I have some excellent spice blends to mimic curry flavor and color if you need a curry powder substitution. Having a quick curry powder substitute can prove useful in a pinch!
Did you know that curry powder is a bunch of mixed spices? This makes it easy to make your own homemade curry powder to season just about anything, including roasted vegetables, stews, rice dishes, and much more.
While it is impossible to get an exact replacement, knowing which spices to use can help you in a pinch.
What is Curry Powder Made Of?
With an unmistakable warmth, spice, and delicious aroma, there is nothing quite like curry powder. While spices vary from producer to maker, they all use the same common spices for cooking.
Knowing the basic spices used can help in finding the perfect substitute for them for other spices. Indian curry powders usually have a higher quantity of cardamom, whereas
Thai curries comprise of chili and ginger, and the chili makes stir-fries and other Thai dishes spicy. Even though there are numerous substitutes, the spice blend almost always has a base of ground cumin and coriander powder.
Typically, store-bought curry powder includes turmeric, cumin, chili powder, fenugreek, ginger, and possibly curry leaf. Depending on the blend, ground caraway, white turmeric, nutmeg, garlic, curry leaves, fennel seeds, and black cardamom can be added.
The diverse combinations make it easy to see why the savory flavor and taste ranges are intricate. So what are some of the best substitutes for curry powder? Let’s understand the taste first.
Try one of these curries for dinner:
What does Curry Powder Taste Like?
Before discovering the best curry powder substitute for your dish, let’s dig a little deeper to understand the variety of flavors this seasoning incorporates. Curry powder is a culmination of various spices, which takes you on a flavorful rollercoaster.
Store-bought curry powder usually contains turmeric and cumin for a warm and intense aroma. Cinnamon and cloves offer a warm sparkling taste that hints at sweetness. Cardamom and caraway will bring the much-needed zing to your replacement, while chili flakes add heat.
Finding an exact replacement is impossible due to the incredible mix of flavors and taste of store-bought curry powders.
Types of Curry Powder
Because curries are unique to different regions, you will find a variety of types in the market. However, let’s discuss the most common ones: Thai, Jamaican, and Madras. Each type has a rich flavor, so you should be careful about choosing the best substitute for your recipe.
- Madras Curry Powder
Indian curries have a complex blend of spices that reveal themselves in layers. Typically, you can make your own curry powder in this region by using ground spices like turmeric, coriander, cumin, chili powder, and fenugreek.
One of the most famous Indian curries is madras. These blends are earthy, fragrant, and bright yellow and incorporate spices like fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, and turmeric. Madras curry is known for being a bit spicier, thanks to the chills. The madras substitute is added to soups, chicken, and shrimp dishes.
- Jamaican Curry Powder
Although curry powder has some common ingredients, the Jamaican substitute has a slightly different flavor profile. It usually comprises allspice, cloves, and cinnamon in addition to the spices mentioned above.
- Japanese Curry Powder
If you have tried Japanese curry, you can tell they are made with oil, flour, and spice powders. It makes these curries distinct in flavor, texture, and color. These sauces incorporate toasted coriander, cumin, fenugreek, chili, turmeric, orange peel, and other spices. It is an excellent alternative that serves the foundation of Japanese culture. Japanese curry powder is a standard spice mix for homes and restaurant kitchens.
- Thai Curry Paste
If you are looking for a spicy yet flavorful meal, opt for Thai cuisine. You will experience fresh ingredients that make Thai curries delicious and spicy. Hence, you will add Thai curry paste that is easily found in the grocery store. South Asian cuisine uses curries that incorporate lemongrass rootstalk extract, raw shallots, shrimp paste, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, gingerroot knobs, hot chilies, etc.
10 Best Curry Powder Substitutes
Do you have to whip up a bowl of delicious curry, and you just discovered that you have run out of curry powder? There are a variety of options that you can use as a substitute. Read on and find the best option for your dish.
1. DIY curry powder
Curry powder is a blend of different spices generally in your spice rack made by mixing coriander powder, cumin, chili peppers, and cumin. You can also include ginger powder, garlic, cinnamon, caraway, and mustard. Mix all these powdered spices in a small bowl to make a substitute for curry powder.
2. Garam Masala
Boasting warm and savory notes, garam masala is a spice blend that is an excellent curry powder alternative. The hot spice mix adds heat and flavor to curry dishes. This blend is prepared by dry-roasting a combination of spices and then grinding them. It is a spicy Indian blend that works great when flavoring veggies and meat. Generally, people use garam masala as a finishing spice, but you can add it to infuse a complex flavor.
Compared with traditional curry powder, garam masala is slightly bitter and aromatic. As a result, less is more. However, garam masala does not include turmeric, so you will not achieve the yellow color that comes from curry powder.
3. Sambar Powder
Sambar powder is a combination of spices found throughout South India; Coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, peppercorn, red chile seed, fenugreek seed, and cinnamon. Like the Masala spice blend, this has an almost identical taste profile to curry, with a strong overall flavor.
4. Curry Paste
There are numerous variations of curries, and the ingredients vary by region. The ingredients are ground, and a little oil is added to create a paste. The paste also utilizes wet ingredients, including garlic paste, vegetable oil, red chilies, ginger, etc., and is a powerful substitute.
5. Madras Curry Powder
For people who prefer a bit more spiciness to your dish, then madras curry powder substitute is the right choice. Even though you can buy it at the grocery store, you can easily make this homemade curry powder. To prepare it at home, you will need a teaspoon of ground ginger powder, ground cinnamon, cayenne pepper, ground cloves, salt, ground black pepper, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, or ground coriander, and turmeric powder. Madras and curry powder have turmeric, giving this blend an intense yellow color.
6. Cumin + All Spice
Cumin and allspice is another simple recipe to help you prepare a homemade curry powder substitute. Ground cumin adds an earthy flavor, whereas allspice gives this blend a warm and sweet flavor. Add equal parts of each spice, around two teaspoons, to make the perfect substitute. Given that ground cumin is one of the main ingredients, using it will be half the replacement.
7. Turmeric + Coriander + Allspice
To replicate with savory, warm notes; an excellent replacement is a mix of turmeric, allspice, and coriander. With this mixture, you will get a yellow tone from adding turmeric. Even though it is the best yellow curry powder substitute in terms of color, you will need to add allspice and ground coriander seeds to mimic the exquisite flavor. You can also include a sprinkle of chili flakes to add more heat.
8. Chaat Masala
Chaat masala is a blend that has citrus notes along with the flavor of curry powder. If you are looking for an alternative, try it out. It is pretty similar to garam masala, but it is slightly sweeter. Chaat masala is a mix of exciting flavors, such as pepper, coriander, cumin, mango powder, mint leaves, and citric acid. Replace curry powder with this if you prefer your curry to taste a bit sweeter.
9. Cumin Powder + Chili Powder
Cumin + chili powder is a great substitute, thanks to the spicy warming notes. Pairing the classic chili powder with cumin will make an excellent spicy curry powder alternative. Traditionally, classic chili powder includes onion powder, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, and ground cayenne.
10. Tandoori Masala
If all else fails, substitute curry powder with tandoori masala. It is an excellent substitute because it has similar spices, and it incorporates ground coriander, ginger, cloves, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder, nutmeg, and fenugreek substitute in curry. Given that this masala has more spicy flavors, you will only need a little. For instance, if the recipe requires one teaspoon of curry powder, adding ½ teaspoon of tandoori masala is best.
Read my Other Substitution Articles
Frequently Asked Questions
The main spice that gives curry powder its vibrant yellow color is turmeric. Moreover, it also adds a distinct flavor. The spice comes from turmeric roots that look similar to ginger roots. However, this root has a milder flavor, making it a potent ingredient for beverages, baked goods, and other recipes.
Use curry powder to season soups, vegetables, eggs, chicken, meat, and just about anything.
Store the mix in an airtight container/sealed jar. Make sure you place the container in a cool, dry place.
Not really, powders are used in Indian dishes, and pastes are used in Thai cooking. The flavors are very different, and substituting one for the other will give you a different flavor altogether.
If you tried one of these substitutions, leave a comment below and let me know how your dish turned out.