Madras curry is a British blend of Indian spices like curry leaves, turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, chili pepper, bay leaves, and black pepper. It is used to add an intense flavor to cooking oil when used in sauces and marinades.
But what if you can’t get your hands on an authentic madras curry paste while cooking? Well, you can use one of the best madras curry paste substitutes we will talk about in this post.
Some of the best alternatives for madras curry paste are tandoori masala, curry powder and chili pepper, garam masala, homemade madras curry paste, and sambar powder.
Best Madras Curry Paste Substitute
1. Homemade Madras Curry Paste
Like any spice blend, you can make your own version if you find the individual ingredients. You can find all or most of the spices that make up madras curry paste at an Indian market, Asian stores, or grocery shop that carry ingredients from all over Asia.
To get quality ingredients, you need to invest some time and money into your shopping, but you can create something that is as fragrant and flavorful as the pre-made blends.
You also get the ability to tailor the ingredients down to your preferences when you make your own spice blend. You can even add more or tone down the heat, depending on your heat tolerance.
2. Curry Powder And Chili Pepper
Madras curry powder and curry powder share a lot of similarities. They include many of the same spices and get their strong bright yellow color from the addition of turmeric.
Spices like fenugreek, cardamom and turmeric are usually present in all curry powder blends.
Madras and curry both have similar origins; curry is intended to replicate the flavor profiles of Indian cuisine for a western palate, while madras curry is on the hotter side due to the use of chili peppers.
This makes curry the perfect substitute; to replicate the heat, you can add cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes.
You can use a similar amount of curry powder that your recipe calls for madras curry powder and add chili pepper to your tolerance level.
3. Tandoori Masala
Tandoori masala, which is famous for its use in tandoori chicken is a dish cooked in a tandoor (a special clay oven.
This spice blend is commonly used in Pakistani and Punjabi dishes and uses similar spices like madras curry powder, including chili peppers.
Tandoori masala packs enough heat, just like madras curry powder. Like most traditional spice blends, the ingredients used will vary; however, tandoori masala uses many of the same ingredients as madras curry powder and other types of curry.
But you may achieve a different food color when the dish is cooked; this is because most tandoori masala blends produce a pink or red color.
When substituting tandoori masala for madras curry powder, you can use a 1:1 ratio but watch out for the heat level as they can vary, so proceed with caution.
4. Garam Masala
Garam masala is a traditional spice blend commonly used in Indian dishes. Ingredients may vary, but most blends contain some of the spices that would be used to make madras curry powder without the addition of turmeric.
So, when substituting garam masala for madras curry, you can add in turmeric if you desire.
Garam masala is usually included in a blend of ground spices commonly used in Indian cuisine. Before the spices for garam masala are ground, they are toasted; this helps to bring out more flavor and aroma.
Garam masala in powdered form is usually gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian; it is just the perfect substitute for madras curry paste; remember to check the ingredients label when buying garam masala paste to see its content.
A typical garam masala blend should include coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon (or cassia) and nutmeg.
Certain variations may include spices like turmeric, garlic, ginger, Malabar leaves, saffron, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, mace, star anise, tamarind, fenugreek, bay leaves, or dried red chiles.
Garam masala warmth, sweetness, floral notes, and touch of heat enable it to replicate a similar flavor gotten from madras curry. Garam masala is a fragrant spice as well as flavorful and is generally not fiery hot like madras.
5. Sambar Powder
Sambar powder is also a traditional Indian spice blend with origins from the southern part of India. It includes many similar spices used to make madras curry powder as well as yellow chickpeas.
Sambar powder is a flavorful South Indian powdered spice with a coarse texture and is prepared by combining various types of basic Indian spices like coriander seeds, cinnamon, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, dry red chilies, black peppercorns and fenugreek seeds.
This curry is usually made with vegetables and lentils, which helps to enhance the flavor.