Curry powder is a mix of spices used in Indian dishes usually made by the British or Americans. If you do not have curry powder. Or you are out of this spice mix in your pantry then we have a list of substitutes you can use.
Some of the best substitutes for curry powder include Sambar Powder, Tandoori Masala, Garam Masala, Chaat Masala, Curry Paste, Cumin Powder, All Spice, Chinese 5 Spice, and Turmeric, Coriander, and All Spice.
Read the article to know more about curry powder and what substitutes you can use.
Best Curry Powder Substitutes
Curry powder can take a dish to the next level.
If you have just this powder in your pantry then you do not need any other spice to put in your curries. However, if you are out of it and desperately want to eat something Indian, then choose some of the substitutes below that will provide similar results.
1. Sambar Powder
Sambar powder is a mix of a lot of spices that are available in curry powder.
This powder is a South Indian mix of spices like black gram, coriander seeds, chilis, cumin, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, peppercorn, turmeric, and some Indian lentils like yellow split peas, and Bengal gram.
This is a good substitute for curry powder because sambar is also like a curry which is eaten with rice, dosa, and idli. Sambar powder is more pungent than curry powder, so to replace it, use half the quantity of sambar powder.
You can add this to your stews, meat, fish, and soup to give an authentic flavor to the dish.
2. Tandoori Masala
Tandoori Masala is a perfect blend of spices that you can use in butter chicken.
You can rub this spice on meat, chicken, or cottage cheese and it will be the most perfect dish. It includes all the flavors of curry powder including fenugreek seeds, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, and garlic.
It is pretty strong in taste and has a good amount of chili in it. So, when you substitute it for curry powder make sure you are only putting half the quantity.
Tandoori masala and curry powder have almost similar flavors which makes it a great substitute.
3. Garam Masala
Garam Masala is usually known as the finisher masala as you add it after the preparation of the dish. It is famous in North Indian dishes and is added to both dry and curry dishes.
You can easily substitute Garam Masala for the same quantity of curry powder. It will give almost a similar flavor to the dish.
Garam Masala is less strong than curry powder. Therefore, if you want a mild curry then you can put garam masala in it.
4. Chaat Masala
Chaat Masala is another substitute for curry powder. Along with all the spices that are in curry powder, it also consists of mango powder which is a bit sweet and lemony in taste.
Overall, Chaat Masala is a sweet spice so whenever you use it in your dish, you will have to balance it with other spices. You can add a bit more chili to balance the flavor.
Use it as one of the last resorts while substituting. It works well in curds and salads, however, not much in curries.
5. Curry Paste
Curry paste is different from curry powder. Although it has the same ingredients, it is made from vegetable oil, ginger and garlic paste, red chilis, and lime.
Curry powder has none of these since it is a powder. The paste can be used while making curries but you have to dilute it first in the water to sober the flavor.
Curry paste has a very intense and rich flavor and is usually used in Thai curries. However, you can still substitute it for curry powder. Just make sure to put a little quantity of it and dilute it before adding it to the curry.
6. Cumin Powder and Chili
Cumin powder and curry powder are completely different.
It is a spice used in curry powder to enhance the flavor. So using it alone in the dish would not be fun. But still, if you do not have curry powder, you can add this with chili and black pepper.
Cumin powder has an earthy flavor that resembles Garam Masala. So you can use this spice with chili to replicate the flavor of curry powder.
7. All Spice
All Spice is a very earthy and warm spice mix made from a mixture of nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon. You can substitute this for curry powder by adding 1/4th tsp for every 1 tsp of curry powder.
All Spice consists of many flavors from curry powder but the warm earthy flavors can resonate in the curries. You will have to add chili and turmeric to match the flavor profile.
8. Turmeric, Coriander, and All Spice
The flavors of All Spice combined with turmeric and coriander make the perfect substitute for curry powder. You don’t need any other flavor in your curry if you add these. Curry powders have these three flavors in them so you can replicate the exact flavor with this.
9. Chinese 5 Spice
Chinese 5 Spice covers all tastes like sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.
So, this can be a different but still good substitute for curry powder. It includes star anise, peppercorns, fennel seeds, cloves, and cinnamon. All these flavors are warm and provide a freshness to the dish.
Since there are different types of curries, Chinese 5 Spice flavors complement any dish. Hence it can be a perfect substitute for curry powder.
10. Make Your Own Curry Powder
You can also make curry powder at home. It is extremely easy and if you are into making Indian dishes at home then these ingredients will always be available in your kitchen.
Homemade Curry Powder
- Coriander powder - 15 grams
- Cumin powder - 8 grams
- Chilli powder - 5 grams
- Turmeric powder - 5 grams
- Black pepper - 5 grams
- Ginger powder - 5 grams
- Mix all the ingredients together in an airtight container. You can store this for more than 3 months. This recipe is super easy! Even if you have ingredients that are not in powder form, you can always ground them to the powder form.
- This will be a very mix to put in any curry that you are making. If you want, you can add any other spice as well like fenugreek powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, etc.
At a lot of places, coriander is also called cilantro so if you do not get coriander powder at any store then look for cilantro powder.
What is curry powder made of?
Curry powder is a spice mix made from the local spices of India.
The British introduced it to replicate the flavors of Indian curries. It consists of coriander seeds, cumin powder, chili, turmeric, ginger, and black pepper.
However, you can always add fenugreek seeds, nutmeg, cardamom, clove, fennel, star anise, bay leaf, cinnamon, and mustard in it to make it more interesting and enhance the flavor.
What can I use instead of curry powder?
If you are out of curry powder, you can use any other spice from your pantry. A combination of other spices like ginger powder, coriander, cumin, black pepper, turmeric, chili powder can help you make curry powder.
Can I use Garam masala if I don’t have curry powder?
Yes, Garam masala has almost all the spices that are used in Curry Powder and even more. It is a flavor enhancer and can provide a different spice to the dish.
Can I substitute turmeric for curry powder?
Turmeric alone is not a good substitute for curry powder. You can mix it with All Spice and coriander powder to achieve a similar flavor.
However, using turmeric alone will not give any flavor. It will only provide color and slight taste but it will be in no comparison to curry powder.