Curry powder is an aromatic blend of spices that is a key ingredient in many curries and curry-flavored dishes. With origins in South Asian cuisine, curry powders can contain a variety of spices including coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed, ginger root, and chili peppers. The specific blend of spices and the ratio of spices can vary significantly between different curry powder recipes, resulting in powders with distinct flavors, aromas, colors, and levels of spiciness.
When shopping for curry powder, it is helpful to understand the differences between the types available and how to select a powder that suits your tastes and recipe needs.
McCormick Curry Powder
McCormick's curry powder contains a blend of 11 herbs & spices, including the spicy zip of black pepper, cloves, nutmeg and ginger paired with the earthy notes of turmeric, coriander, cumin and more. This combination provides the traditional flavors of multiple spices in one convenient bottle, which adds bold and complex seasoning to curries, pilafs, eggs, chicken and more without the hassle of measuring each component separately.
McCormick takes care to source high quality peppercorns and other ingredients from Vietnam, India and Malaysia. The spices are carefully cracked after drying to release their full-bodied, aromatic essence. With a finer consistency, this curry powder blends smoothly into dishes for maximum flavor impact. Made by a trusted 125-year-old brand, McCormick curry powder is a pantry staple for both seasoned cooks and busy home chefs looking to quickly add intrigue to basic recipes.
- Blend of 11 herbs & spices provides complex flavor
- Adds spicy, earthy aroma and golden color to dishes
- Made from peppercorns and spices sourced from Asia
- Provides traditional curry flavor without the work of measuring each individual spice
- Finely ground for smooth blending and full flavor release
- Adds bold essence and visual appeal to curries, eggs, meats and more
- Contains common allergens like black pepper and nutmeg
- Flavor profile may be too strong or complex for some tastes
Rani Curry Powder Mild
Rani's mild curry powder contains an authentic blend of 10 pure Indian spices like coriander, turmeric, cumin and ginger. It has a smooth, flavorful profile without heat from peppers or chili powder, making it suitable for those avoiding nightshades. The combination provides the essence of multiple spices in one jar for ease and convenience. This vegan, all-natural seasoning adds rich curry flavor and vivid yellow color to curries, lentils, rubs and more without artificial colors or fillers.
As a 40+ year family company selling traditional spices, Rani takes care to source top quality ingredients from trusted growers without genetic modification. Their small-batch production focuses on capturing the delectable, aromatic nature of each spice. The mild version provides an inviting introduction to Indian cuisine, adding intrigue to vegetables, eggs, chicken and beyond for new and veteran cooks alike.
- 10-spice blend provides authentic curry flavor
- Naturally vegan, non-GMO and containing no artificial colors
- Free of salt, chili powder and nightshade spices like pepper
- Easy, convenient way to add complex Indian spice flavor
- Smooth, aromatic and flavorful without unwanted heat
- Makes basic dishes more interesting for curry novices
- Relies heavily on turmeric for color rather than paprika
- Expensive compared to mass-produced curry powder brands
Spice Islands Curry Powder
Spice Islands curry powder delivers an aromatic, full-bodied blend with the authentic zing of premium spices sourced worldwide. Their small-batch production carefully preserves the rich flavor of ingredients like Vietnamese black pepper, Indian turmeric and Indonesian cloves. This complex, multi-note seasoning adds warmth, intensity and a signature golden hue to curries, roasted veggies, deviled eggs and more without the trouble of tracking down individual spices.
As a brand focused on quality, Spice Islands goes beyond to procure the best peppercorns, herbs and seeds. Expert growing conditions and gentle handling ensure the vivacity of their spices makes it into every jar. With a finer grind that incorporates easily, this curry powder quickly infuses dishes with the time-honored essence of myriad spices from the world's premier regions. For cooks seeking ultimate convenience without sacrificing refinement, it's a pantry essential.
- Carefully sourced, small-batch blend of premium global spices
- Adds complex flavor and fragrance without measuring each component
- Finer grind incorporates smoothly for full flavor release
- Provides authentic spice flavor in one convenient jar
- Crafted from exquisitely sourced ingredients
- Elevates and intrigues the flavor of many dishes
- Pricier than mass-produced curry powders
- Strong, complex flavor not suited to all palates
Badia Curry Powder Jamaican Style
Badia's Jamaican-style curry powder provides a spirited blend of warm turmeric, zesty ginger, mustard and black pepper balanced by earthy cumin, coriander and fennel. This combo adds a golden hue and equally vivid flavor to curries, soups, potatoes, chicken and beyond with convenience. The small addition of onion and garlic amps up the savory depth. With a bolder personality than Indian-style curries, this Caribbean-inspired powder provides a tropical escape in the kitchen.
As a respected Latin foods brand, Badia sources quality ingredients like premium turmeric root for vivid color and robust flavor. Their proprietary blend provides the nuanced essence of a dozen spices in one economical product. The satisfying heat from ginger and pepper combines with mellowing fenugreek and coriander for a well-rounded mouthfeel. With island-style flair, this curry powder brings excitement to everyday dishes.
- Bold Jamaican-style blend with warm spices like turmeric
- Adds golden color, spirited flavor and heat to dishes
- Convenient way to infuse cooking with island personality
- Provides nuanced, tropical flair from a dozen spices
- Zesty profile from ginger and pepper balanced by mellow spices
- Perfect for making everyday dishes more exciting
- Strong flavor not suited to all palates
- Contains onion and garlic in addition to spices
Lalah's Madras Curry Powder
Lalah's Madras curry powder offers an authentic, Indian-restaurant style blend of spices and a robust flavor profile. Traditional spices like coriander, turmeric, cumin and fenugreek combine to provide a complex, multi-note essence without the chore of measuring each one alone. This blend adds warm, vibrant character to curries and beyond to transport your cooking.
As a trusted brand, Lalah's sources high quality ingredients to ensure an aromatic, pure flavor. Their small-batch processing retains the freshness and integrity of each component. With a true Madras pedigree in the Tamil Nadu region, this curry powder provides an indulgent taste of Southern India's cuisines. The well-balanced formulation with mild heat makes it versatile for spicing up veggies, eggs, lentils and more.
- Authentic Madras-style blend with traditional Indian spices
- Adds warm, aromatic vibrancy and complex flavor
- Provides true Indian restaurant flair at home
- Flavorful and robust like Indian restaurant curries
- High quality, small-batch processing preserves freshness
- Complex yet balanced profile great for spicing up everyday dishes
- Expensive compared to mass-produced brands
- Strong, aromatic spices not suited to all preferences
Rani Curry Powder Hot
The Rani Curry Powder Hot is an authentic Indian spice blend made from 11 different spices like coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, ginger, black pepper, mustard, curry leaves, chili, fennel, and garlic. This gives it a complex, harmonious flavor profile that is delicious in curries, lentil dishes, soups, rubs, and more.
This curry powder has an incredible depth of flavor thanks to the careful blending of multiple pure spices. It's also 100% natural, vegan, non-GMO, and contains no added fillers, colors, or preservatives. The spices are sourced from family farms in India and crafted in small batches for exceptional quality you can taste.
- 11-spice blend for authentic Indian flavor
- Crafted from pure, high-quality spices
- 100% natural, vegan, non-GMO
- Delicious, complex flavor
- No added fillers, colors, preservatives
- Sourced and made in India
- Spice level may be too hot for some
Amazon Brand - Happy Belly Curry Powder
The Amazon Brand - Happy Belly Curry Powder is made from ground dried red bell peppers for a tasty flavor. This curry powder can be used to add flavor to chicken, pork, beef, marinades, dressings, and more.
It's a pre-mixed blend of spices like turmeric, salt, paprika and natural flavoring. This eliminates the guesswork of putting together your own curry spice mix. Just shake it on whatever protein or dish you want to give a curried flavor profile.
- Made from sweet red bell peppers
- Pre-mixed blend of spices
- Easy to use
- Adds nice curry flavor
- Convenient pre-mixed blend
- Flavor may be mild for some
- Contains salt
S&B Curry Powder, Oriental
The S&B Curry Powder, Oriental contains a blend of spices like turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cumin, red pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, and more. This makes it easy to whip up a delicious Japanese-style curry.
It has an incredible depth of flavor from the many spices used. The curry powder can be added to beef, chicken, fish, eggs, rice dishes, soups, stews, sauces, and more to impart that rich, Oriental curry taste.
- Authentic Japanese curry spice blend
- Made with many different spices
- Adds flavor to many dishes
- Great flavor
- Just add meat and veggies
- Good price
- Spice level may vary
Simply Organic Curry Powder
The Simply Organic Curry Powder contains a blend of organic spices like coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, ginger, and more. This gives it the complex, aromatic flavors traditionally found in Indian curries.
It's USDA certified organic, meaning the spices are grown without pesticides or chemicals. The curry powder can be used to add delicious flavor to curries, lentils, soups, sauces, marinades, and many other Indian dishes.
- USDA certified organic spice blend
- Contains coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, etc.
- Adds great flavor to Indian cuisine
- Organic and natural
- Lovely aroma and flavor
- Versatile in many dishes
- Jar size is small
CHIEF CURRY POWDER
The CHIEF Curry Powder is an authentic West Indies style blend made in Trinidad and Tobago. It has a wonderful depth of flavor without being too spicy hot.
This curry powder can add delicious flavor to many meat, vegetable, and seafood dishes. It's especially good in curry chicken, stews, fried rice, and more Caribbean style cooking.
- Authentic West Indies curry blend
- Made in Trinidad and Tobago
- Adds flavor without much heat
- Great curry taste
- Not overly spicy
- Large size lasts awhile
- Flavor may vary between batches
Buying Guide for Curry Powders
Types of Curry Powder
There are several main types of curry powder that vary based on the intensity of heat and the balance of spices used. Understanding the distinctions can help determine which variety is best for different dishes and personal preferences.
Mild Curry Powder
As the name implies, mild curry powders have a delicate flavor and only a hint of heat. These powders emphasize aromatic spices like coriander, cumin, and turmeric over hot spices like chili peppers. The result is a gentle, warming curry flavor. Mild powders are ideal for those who prefer less spicy dishes and are also good for curry-flavored recipes that will be served to children.
Madras Curry Powder
Madras curry powders represent a medium heat level, with a well-balanced blend of coriander, turmeric, cumin, and chili peppers. This versatility makes it a good all-purpose choice suitable for most curry dishes. The complexity of flavors and moderate spiciness provide a rich curry taste.
Vindaloo Curry Powder
True to its name, vindaloo curry powders are designed to pack some heat. They have a higher proportion of red chili peppers in the spice blend, resulting in a fiery, pungent flavor. Vindaloo powders are intended for those who enjoy and can tolerate spicy curries. They are best for recipes focused on heat rather than complex aromas.
Thai and Japanese Curry Powders
Curry powder blends are also popular components of Thai and Japanese cuisines. Thai curry powders often include lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and bird's eye chili peppers for intense herbal notes and searing spice. Japanese curry powders are mild, sweet, and earthy, with spices like ginger, garlic, fenugreek, and turmeric. Both types yield unique flavors different from traditional Indian-style curry powders.
The specific spices, quantity, and ratio of spices used to distinguish one curry powder from another and determine its tasting notes. Some spices frequently found in curry blends include:
- Turmeric - Provides earthiness and golden yellow color
- Coriander - Supplies lemon/citrus flavor
- Cumin - Adds warmth and smokiness
- Fenugreek - Gives maple-like sweetness
- Chili Peppers - Bring heat and bite
- Cinnamon - Provides a touch of sweetness and warmth
- Cloves - Contribute a strong, spicy aroma
- Cardamom - Adds a fresh, floral fragrance
- Ginger - Provides pungency and bite
When assessing a curry powder, look at the ingredients list and the order of spices to get a sense of its spice profile and heat level. Consider if the blend of spices suits your intended use.
Color and Appearance
A quick visual assessment can provide clues about the freshness and quality of a curry powder. Look for powders with vivid, saturated colors, which indicates spices have retained their natural pigments and aromatic oils. Dull or faded powders may have spices that are old, dried out, or lacking key flavor compounds. Check that the powder has an even consistency and is free of flavorless filler ingredients added to bulk it up.
Manufacture Date and Expiration
Check product packaging for a manufacturer or best-by date when available. For optimal freshness and flavor, choose powders produced more recently. Generally, ground spices and spice blends like curry powder have a shelf life of around 2-3 years from the time they were made. Purchasing a recently produced powder provides more time to use it when spices are most vibrant. Discard leftovers past the expiration date.
Storage Tips for Freshness
To maintain freshness and prevent curry powders from losing potency, it is best to store them in airtight containers in a cool, dry, dark place away from heat, moisture, and sunlight. Make sure to securely fasten lids. Glass jars or metal tins make ideal storage vessels. Keeping powders in the refrigerator or freezer can further prolong shelf life. Smell curry powder regularly and if the aroma seems weak or off, it is time to replace it with a fresh batch.
Organic and Fair Trade Options
Some curry powders are certified organic or fair trade. Organic indicates the spices were grown without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and GMOs, which some consumers prefer to avoid. Fairtrade means the farmers and harvesters who produce the spices are paid fair wages under ethical, sustainable conditions. Seek out these designations if they align with your health and social values.
Buying Whole Spices To Blend
Those who frequently cook Indian curries may find buying whole spices and blending customized powders at home to be more economical. This also allows control over the quantity and types of spices preferred. Start with a base of cumin, coriander, and turmeric, then incorporate additional spices to create unique signature blends. Use an electric spice grinder to freshly grind spices as needed for peak flavor.
Is it better to buy curry powder or blend my own? What’s the difference?
Both options have pros and cons. Pre-blended curry powder offers convenience while blending your own allows you to customize the spice mix and amounts. However, pre-blended powders provide balanced flavor profiles tested in recipes while homemade mixes take trial and error to perfect. Ultimately it comes down to personal preference and how frequently you cook Indian cuisine. Infrequent curry cooks may prefer pre-blended while those who make curries often may want to blend their own signature mixes.
How should I substitute curry powder for garam masala in recipes?
Garam masala and curry powder have some overlapping spices but differ in flavor profiles, so they are not directly interchangeable. To substitute curry powder for garam masala, use about half the specified amount of garam masala. Then, add a dash of extra spices that are in garam masala but not typical curry powder, like black pepper, nutmeg, and cloves. Start with half the curry powder and extra spices, then adjust the amounts to taste.
Is it okay to use expired curry powder? What are the risks and downsides?
It is not recommended to use expired curry powder. The expiration date indicates when the spices’ aromas, flavors, and beneficial compounds start deteriorating. Expired curry powders will have weakened potency, duller notes, and less complex flavor. They may also be more likely to contain mold and bacteria since antioxidants preserving freshness have diminished. Consuming expired spices could potentially cause digestive upset or other adverse effects. For the best and safest results, discard old powders and purchase fresh ones.
What are good recipe ideas and ways to use up the rest of my curry powder?
To use up leftover curry powder, stir it into roasted vegetables or plain rice for extra flavor. Make curry-seasoned nuts by tossing nuts in oil, curry powder, and salt, then baking until crispy. Use it when making deviled eggs, salad dressings, grilled meats, popcorn, or frittatas. Swap in curry powder for some chili powder when making chilis or stews. Add a dash to enhance the flavor of dips, sandwiches, soups, and sauces. Mix with oil and vinegar for a quick curry vinaigrette on salads.
Is it better to buy curry powder in bulk sizes or smaller amounts at a time?
The optimal curry powder purchase size depends on your household’s curry usage. Buy a large bulk size if you cook curry dishes frequently. The cost per ounce is lower, and you will use up the powder before it expires. For occasional curry recipes, purchase a standard small jar. Avoid buying bulk if it will take over a year to use since the spices can stale and degrade in quality over time. Regardless of size, transfer powder to a sealed container and store it appropriately after opening.
From mild and sweet to fiery and pungent, curry powder comes in an array of spice blends to suit any preference. Consider the spiciness level, ingredient list, color vibrancy, expiration date, and storage needs when selecting your powder.
Seek out organic and fair trade brands when possible. Experiment with making customized blends to find your perfect mixture. With its incredible versatility to punch up flavor and color across cuisines, quality curry powder is a valued spice for every well-stocked kitchen.