Skip to Content

9 Simple Madras Curry Powder Substitutes (from your pantry)

Recreating Indian dishes is simple if you have essential ingredients like the Madras curry powder. This mix of spices gives the meals their aromatic and flavorful character. But while Madras curry powder can be tricky to find, you can from your pantry get some of the best madras curry powder substitute.

The best madras curry powder substitute you can consider is garam masala. Garam masala is a flavorful spice mix of cumin, coriander, cinnamon, mustard seed, clove, and cardamom. Just add chili powder to make it as spicy as madras curry powder would normally be.

The result packs a delicious punch to spice up any dish.

There are also tons of other flavorful best substitutes you can achieve with some common kitchen spices. You’re good to go by combining equal parts coriander, cumin, turmeric, mustard powder, cayenne pepper, or a pinch of cayenne pepper.

But let’s explore all the possible substitutes in case you have some already on hand and don’t want to make an extra trip to the store.

madras curry sub lg

1. Garam Masala (with turmeric & chili powder added)

Garam masala is a British blend of Indian spices that is incredibly fragrant and flavorful and one of the best madras curry powder substitutes you can make with ingredients available in your pantry.

You can easily make this Indian recipe blend by combining coriander, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and nutmeg. Each of these ingredients can bring a unique and flavorful taste that can help create a delicious balance in your dish. With these warm, earthy spices and a slight kick of heat, you’ll make a delicious Indian curry with unique flavors in no time.

2. Regular Indian curry powder (with chili powder added)

Regular Indian curry powder with chili powder added is another standard curry powder substitute you can make from pantry staples. The combination of ground coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, black peppercorns, and other whole spices gives the blend a robust, full-bodied flavor without having to purchase it separately from the local grocery store.

It’s great for curries, stews, and more and can be used for any Indian dish that calls for madras curry powder. By adding chili powder to your regular Indian curry powder, you’ll have the perfect Madras-style flavor for your Indian curries and dishes.

3. Sambar powder

Sambar powder is a good curry powder substitute for madras. It is a traditional Indian spice blend made with spices in your pantry, like ground coriander seeds, cumin, chili,  ground fenugreek seeds, and asafoetida. This blend typically has a sweet and savory flavor, similar to the taste of madras curry powder.

You can even modify the ingredients to your taste. For instance, you can create your own blend by adding extra chili powder if you like an intense heat level or a pinch of turmeric to give it a yellow color.

When preparing food, India and Thailand boast complex and flavorful curries that are sure to tantalize the taste buds.

But despite their similarities, Indian and Thai curry can be quite different from each other.

If you are unsure about the differences, you should visit my most recent article. Here I addressed some of the major differences, including the one ingredient never used in Thailand that is essential for true Indian curry.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

4. Tandoori masala powder (with turmeric added)

Tandoori masala powder is an excellent madras curry powder substitute for your Indian cooking.

With its perfect blend of spices, including red chilies, coriander, turmeric, cumin, ginger, garam masala, black pepper, fenugreek, and more, it’s the perfect way to recreate the delicious and unique flavors of a classic Madras curry.

Plus, all the fresh and fragrant ingredients blend to create a subtle flavor and aroma that’ll delight your taste buds. So if you’re searching for an easy way to re-create your own curry powder with less fuss, the comforting and robust flavor of the tandoori masala powder is a good option.

5. Homemade Madras curry powder

If you’re looking for a madras curry powder substitute without visiting the regular grocery stores, you can start by making your own.

With fresh ingredients like coriander, ground turmeric, whole cumin seeds, fenugreek, cinnamon, black pepper, and black mustard seed available in your pantry, you can quickly produce a fantastic spice mix that will improve your favorite meals.

These toasted spices will give you the perfect combination of flavor and heat, and you don’t have to worry about finding exotic spice mixtures for your Indian food. You can learn more about creating this flavorful spice from the FAQ section.

6. Sambal oelek or sriracha sauce

If you’re looking for an amazing substitute for madras homemade curry powder, you can go right with Sambal oelek or sriracha sauce. These ingredients are full of flavor and can add a delicious kick to your dishes.

Sambal oelek is a spice paste made from chili peppers, vinegar, garlic powder, and other spices.

Sriracha sauce is a spicy chili sauce you can make by mixing chili peppers with garlic, sugar, vinegar, and different seasoning blends. Sambal oelek and sriracha sauce are great alternatives to madras curry powder, so if you have them on hand, you can easily make a delicious and flavorful substitute for your dish.

7. Blended turmeric, cumin, and chili powder

If you’re looking for a great substitute for madras curry powder, the good news is that you can easily create tasty homemade spice blends from your pantry. You only need ingredients like turmeric powder, cumin, and chili powder.

Start by blending equal small amounts to get that spicy, savory similar flavor associated with madras curry powder. Plus, it’s an easy and affordable way to make your favorite dishes even more flavorful. Your taste buds won’t regret it.

Indian cuisine is a rich and flavorful blend of various food cultures and flavors. From the complex curries of the North to the spice-filled dishes of the South, no two regions offer the same experience.

But is there a difference between Northern and Southern Indian food?

While both Northern and Southern Indian cuisines have similarities, they share many distinct elements, which you can read about more in my most recent article. I cover all the differences in ingredients and terminology. But also which is healthier.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

8. Tikka Masala Paste

If you are looking for the perfect substitute for the madras curry paste without a trip to the store, then you should consider the Tikka Masala Paste. All you need is some garlic, ginger, garam masala, chili powder, ground cumin, paprika, and a can of tomato paste. Blend the ingredients, and you have all the intense flavors you need for a delicious and smooth Madras curry powder substitute.

Making a homemade Tikka Masala Paste is a great way to add a mild, complex flavor profile to your dishes. Depending on your personal preference, adding extra chili pepper for that authentic spicy flavor will be a great addition.

9. Vindaloo paste

The Vindaloo paste is another great substitute if you need the tasty madras curry recipe in your dish. Tikka Masala Paste is an excellent madras curry powder substitute that will give your meals that classic, zesty flavor you love.

All you need is some garlic, ginger, garam masala, chili powder, ground cumin, paprika, and a can of tomato paste. Blend all of these ingredients, and you have a thick, flavorful paste ready to give your meals a boost of flavor. For an extra level of heat, be sure to add excess chili powder or red pepper flakes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between curry powder and Madras curry powder?

Curry powder and Madras curry powder may sound similar but have very different flavor profiles.

The main difference is that curry powder is a blend of many spices and herbs, including cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and fenugreek. It produces a warm, earthy, and fragrant flavor.

On the other hand, Madras curry powder is a spicier blend of spices and herbs, including cumin, coriander, red and black pepper, turmeric, cloves, and fenugreek. It gives dishes a brighter, more vibrant flavor profile.

Is Madras curry powder the same as garam masala?

No, Madras curry powder is not the same as garam masala. Madras curry is a blend of ingredients that typically includes cumin, coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, red pepper, and other spices. At the same time, garam masala is usually made of cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, pepper, fennel, and other spices.

Both types of curry powder are a great addition to Indian subcontinent dishes, but they serve different purposes. Madras curry powder is used in curries and stews, while garam masala is added at the end of the cooking process to provide a spicy, smoky flavor.

How to make Madras curry powder

Making your own Madras curry powder is easier than you may think. All you need is some common spices, including Kashmiri red chilies, Coriander seeds, Cumin seeds, Fenugreek seeds, black Mustard seeds, Fennel seeds, Black pepper, Cloves, Cinnamon, and Cardamom.

Once your spices are gathered, heat a pan over medium heat and add the red chilies.

Toast them until they turn a dark red. This should take about 4-5 minutes. Then, lower the heat, add the rest of the spices, and toast lightly for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously to prevent burning.

Transfer the mixture to a coffee grinder and pulse until it becomes a fine powder. Make sure to let the mixture cool completely before grinding. You can then store the spice powder in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Final Thoughts

Making your curry powder at home is an easy and customizable way to add a delicious and authentic flavor to your cooking.

You can rapidly prepare a homemade curry powder that will make your meals taste like they came from a high-end Indian restaurant using only a few herbs and spices from your pantry.

As a bonus, adding more or less certain ingredients can also adjust the spice level. By fetching your spices and cooking, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make your own madras curry powder substitute.

Check out all my ingredient substitution articles:

15 Best Substitutes for Achiote Paste & Powder

9 Best Agar Agar Substitutes

15 Best White Balsamic Vinegar Substitutes

9 Simple Madras Curry Powder Substitutes

15 Best Browning Sauce Substitutes

13 Best Substitutes for Mustard Seed

15 Fool-Proof Lyle’s Golden Syrup Substitute Options

Can I Substitute Maple Syrup for Honey?

Hoisin Sauce vs. Oyster Sauce (Difference & Best Substitutes)

19 Best Substitutes for Potato Starch (and when to use them)

21 Best Paneer Substitutes (for your Indian recipes)

21 Best Turmeric Substitutes (you probably have on hand)

Kaffir Lime Leaves vs Lime Leaves: Differences & Substitutes

11 Best Porcini Mushroom Substitutes (dried and fresh)

13 Top Substitutes for Nutritional Yeast (Simple Options)

Image by Hans from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell