Curry Powder Substitute for Flavor

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Curry powder is a blend of spices that originated in India. This blend is often used by people in both Britain and America. So, what happens when you need a curry powder substitute? Are there any spices or sauces that can be added to a dish to replace curry powder? Yes, there are!

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We will explore the many types of spices and sauces that can be added to a dish to replace curry powder, and will even give you a curry powder recipe so you can whip up some on your own. 

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Curry Powder?

Curry powder is known to give warmth and unique flavor to savory dishes and can be easily identified by its distinct aroma. Curry powder has a unique flavor that is all its own, however, there are several substitutes for curry powder that we think could pass in most recipes. 

Be advised, however, that not all curry powder substitutes are created equal. In this article, we’ll be sure to give you the low-down on which substitutes are best and which you should only use in a real pinch so you can feel confident when substituting curry powder in recipes. 

Paneer Butter Masala

Substitute For Curry Powder

The substitutes for curry powder are listed in descending order from best to worst and are as follows:

  • Garam Masala:  Garam Masala gives nearly the same flavor profile that curry powder yields, and as such, is perfect for substituting in a 1:1 ratio. It has a slightly milder flavor than curry powder does, though, so if mild is your thing, Garam Masala might be the perfect substitution for you.
  • Turmeric, All-Spice, Coriander Blend: Blending turmeric, all-spice, and coriander can yield a result that tastes surprisingly similar to curry powder. That’s because many curry powder blends contain at least two of these ingredients. Thus, if you’re in a bind, you can blend these three spices to create the taste you need to substitute in dishes that call for curry powder. 
  • Curry Paste: Curry paste is not a powder. It is made with many of the same ingredients that curry powder is made of, however, the addition of garlic paste, oil, chilis, and other ingredients make it much different. Though the two aren’t the same, you shouldn’t shy away from using curry paste as a substitute for curry powder. You just need to be sure that you dilute your curry paste a bit to tame the flavor so that it doesn’t overpower your dish.
  • Chinese 5-Spice Blend: Chinese 5-Spice blend won’t taste the exact same as adding curry powder. But it will add warmth and depth to the dish that will yield a lovely result. You may wish to try it out–some people we’ve encountered prefer this spice even over curry powder!
  • Chili Powder and Cumin Blend: While we wouldn’t recommend using either of these exclusively as substituted for curry powder, we would recommend blending the two if you’re in a real pinch. This won’t be anywhere near the flavor that curry powder itself offers, however, it will give a flavor slightly reminiscent that will work when you have no other options. 
  • Other Masala or Earthy Spices: Other lesser-known spices that can be substituted for curry powder include sambar powdertandoori masala, and chaat masala
bowls with spices

Is Garam Masala a Substitute for Curry Powder?

Yes, Garam Masala can be a substitute for curry powder.

In fact, is often mentioned directly in recipes as the perfect substitute for curry powder.

Just be sure that you remember that Garam Masala is more mild tasting than curry powder. You may wish to use a little more of it if you want a more prominent flavor to whatever you’re cooking; just be sure not to overdo it. 

Is Turmeric Same as Curry Powder?

No, turmeric is not the same as curry powder. In fact, if you use turmeric on its own in place of curry powder, we can guarantee that you’ll be sorely disappointed. 

If you still wish to use turmeric, be sure to blend it with all-spice and coriander to get the flavor you need. While curry powder does contain turmeric, hence the golden color, it contains many more spices that make curry powder so wonderfully flavorful. Without these other spices, you’ll be left with a flat and unremarkable flavor; both of which are big no-nos when preparing curry dishes. 

Can I Use Paprika Instead of Curry Powder?

No, you shouldn’t use paprika on its own instead of curry powder. It does not have the same robust taste and will turn your traditional yellow curry dish into something bright red. 

Malai Kofta

Can You Substitute Curry Paste for Curry Powder?

Yes, you can! 

Curry paste can be a wonderful substitution for curry powder, assuming that you use it correctly. Remember that curry paste packs a robust flavor is a different color, and is a different consistency than curry powder. At times, the bright red hue of red curry paste will cause dishes that call for curry powder to look a little unconventional. Aside from that, you’ll simply want to dilute your curry paste. This way, it yields a milder flavor than it would undiluted. 

Are Cumin and Curry the Same Thing?

No, cumin and curry are two different spices. While both can be described as “earthy”, cumin is a single spice and curry is a blend of warming spices. Thus, the two are very different. 

Curry Powder Recipe

Ready to learn how to make curry powder on your own? Thankfully, we’ve got a great recipe for you that can help you easily whip up a batch of curry powder at home without needing to take a trip to the store.

To make your own curry powder, combine the following ingredients in a bowl:

  • 1 Tbsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • ¾ Tbsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Ginger
  • 1 tsp Dry Mustard
  • ¼ tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Ground Cardamom

Directions:

  1. Combine and use at a 1:1 ratio in recipes and dishes that call for curry powder. 
  2. Store in a container for other future uses.

*Adapted from MinimalistBaker

FAQs

Can You Substitute Turmeric for Cumin?

We do not recommend that you substitute turmeric for cumin. The two do not taste the same. If you are looking for a replacement for curry powder, you may blend cumin with chili powder, or blend turmeric with all-spice and coriander. But never use turmeric to replace cumin in a recipe. 

Curry Powder Substitutes: They’re Out There!

So, while it may not be as easy to substitute curry powder as some other spices, the nice thing is that curry powder can be substituted with several other spices. This blend is easy enough to whip up yourself at home.

We hope this has helped give you some ideas on how you could potentially substitute curry powder in your next curry dish. Cheers! 

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By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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