Top 4 Curry Powder Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Knowing the best curry powder substitutes can be useful when you don’t have any of this traditional spice blend on hand. Curry powder is, essentially, a pre-mixed selection of Indian spices. It can vary from one brand to another, but they usually include cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chilies as their base flavors.

Curry Powder Substitutes

The best curry powder substitutes include garam masala, chaat masala, curry paste, and a mix of various spices such as coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Some of these curry powder substitutes may become your ingredient of choice in recipes, as they can offer a slightly different flavor to your dish! Let’s take a look at them below.

Garam Masala

Garam masala is the original, Indian version of curry powder and works as an excellent alternative! Masala translates from Hindi to mean ‘a mixture’ and Garam translates as ‘hot’. This hot mix of spices does a very similar (or better!) job than curry powder, although perhaps providing more heat and spice.

A mountain of freshly grounded curry powder with other spices in the background

The combination of spices in curry powder can supply you with potent antioxidants. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Unlike curry powder, which is incorporated into the dish during cooking, garam masala is traditionally added to the food after it has been cooked. Begin by replacing one teaspoon of curry powder with one-third of a teaspoon of garam masala and increase the amount if needed. 

Chaat Masala

Another Indian masala – ‘mix’ – of spices, chaat masala is a cooling spice that is milder and sweeter than garam masala. This is a great alternative if you are looking for some of the spice that curry powder offers and don’t want the heat of garam masala.

Curry Paste

A great replacement, curry paste contains many of the same ingredients as a standard curry powder, along with some wet ingredients such as garlic or ginger paste and oil. It can be stronger than curry powder, so begin with half the recommended amount for curry powder and increase based on how much heat you want.

Mix of Spices

If you don’t have any of the previous replacements on hand, try making your own version of curry powder by mixing various spices together. Cumin, coriander, and turmeric are the base ingredients for most curry powders. Try adding a little ginger, fenugreek, or mustard seeds until you find a mix you prefer.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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