You may think curry powder is only part of Indian food, but you would be surprised to see how many cuisines use this spice, too.
However, because it is such a popular and important ingredient, you may be in trouble if you don’t have any at the time of cooking. Don’t worry, though, as there are plenty of options out there for you.
What Is Curry Powder?
Curry powder is a complex mix of spices, that while meant to be used in Indian dishes, is a Western invention. The strength and spices used in curry powder vary depending on the brand, but for the most part, it contains turmeric, coriander, cumin, red chile, fenugreek, and curry leaf.
You can find curry powder in any grocery store, usually by the spice rack, but you can find more variety in an Indian or Middle Eastern food store.
While you may find curry powder mostly in Indian cuisine, it is now popular in other cuisines, like Middle Eastern, German, African, and Thai. This spice is sweet and savory and has a citrus and earthy aftertaste.
What Can I Replace Curry Powder With?
While it is a popular spice, if you can’t find it anywhere, try these substitutes for curry powder:
For Cooking, Chicken Divan, and Chicken Salad
#1. Garam Masala
This blend of spices is originally from South Asia, especially India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Garam masala usually contains cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, bay leaf, fennel, and peppercorn.
You can usually find this option in many specialty stores, like Indian or Asian food stores, but you may also be lucky enough to find it at a local grocery store.
Use garam masala when cooking curry, chicken divan, chicken salad, stews, and soups. You can replace curry powder for the same amount of garam masala, but keep in mind that this option is a bit more pungent.
See More: Garam Masala Substitution
#2. Cumin + Allspice
Cumin is one of those spices that works well in plenty of dishes, as it has an earthy, lemony, and slightly pungent flavor.
When you mix cumin with allspice, the flavor becomes a bit sweeter and warm. Use about one teaspoon of cumin with ¼ teaspoon of allspice for every teaspoon of curry powder that the recipe indicates.
You can find cumin and allspice in any grocery store, usually by the spice section. Use this mix of cumin and allspice when cooking soups, chicken divan, chicken salad, and sauces.
See More: Allspice Alternatives
#3. Curry Paste
This choice makes a lot of sense, but the truth is, curry paste is a concentrated version of curry, chiles, aromatics like ginger and lemongrass, and spices, like turmeric. The flavor is stronger and should be diluted in water.
You can buy curry paste in any grocery store, usually with the Asian foods. Use about one tablespoon of curry paste with one tablespoon of water. This choice works for making curries, chicken divan, stews, and soups.
For Baking, Bread, Soup, and Stews
#4. Chaat Masala
This Indian spice is known for its cooling ability, unlike Garam Masala, it gives your food a little sweetness. Chaat masala may be a bit harder to find, but you can try your local Indian or Middle Eastern food store.
Use the same amount that the recipe calls for, but keep in mind that this spice is usually a bit stronger.
You can add chaat masala to your naan bread when baking and when you cook soups, stews, and marinades. Remember to always taste what you are cooking, as you may want to add a bit of citrus or salt to counterbalance the flavor.
#5. Tandoori Masala
If you like chicken tandoori, then this spice is nothing new to you. This blend of spices comes from Pakistani and Punjabi cuisines, and the flavor is similar to curry powder. While ingredients vary from brand to brand, tandoori masala tends to be on the spicy side.
You can find tandoori in almost all organic stores, as well as your local Indian or Middle Eastern food market. Use half the amount that the dish indicates, or you may overpower the flavors with too much heat. Tandoori works great in soups, bread, stews, and meat dishes.
It’s also worth noting that your dish may change colors to a light red because tandoori masala is light red-orange.
#6. Sambar Powder
This South Indian spice blend includes coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, peppercorns, red chiles, fenugreek, cinnamon, and more. The flavor of sambar powder is more pungent and strong, and it will add some heat to your dish.
You can find sambar powder in Indian food stores, though your farmer’s or organic market may have it too.
To replace curry powder, use about half the amount of sambar powder. You can add sambar powder to your naan bread, soup, meat stews, fish, and more. If you want to counterbalance the pungency, try adding a bit of citrus to the dish.
While it isn’t the best substitute, paprika can work in place of curry powder. This spice is smokier and has a very deep red color that may alter the flavor and aspect of your dish. Use about half of what the recipe indicates.
Because curry powder already contains turmeric, you can use this spice in its place. However, turmeric is not as pungent or strong, so you may need to add more. A better option is to mix turmeric and cumin for a closer flavor to curry powder.
Normally, curry powder mixes contain turmeric, cumin, chili powder, ginger, pepper, fenugreek, and curry leaf. Ingredients vary depending on the brand, but for the most part, these are the main spices you’ll find in your curry powder.
When you like Indian and Middle Eastern foods, curry powder is a staple in your kitchen. Still, there are times when you run out of it or it’s simply nowhere to be found. If this is the case, use any of these 6 substitutes and you’ll end up with a very tasty and aromatic dish.
Photo by depositphotos.com/AndreySt