Taste Test – The Best Curry Powders

by Sala @ Veggie Belly on September 21, 2012

If you’ve ever wondered what’s the best curry powder brand, look no further! I’ve taste tested a bunch of curry powders and present to you my favorites and how to use each one of them. This also kicks off my curry series – a month of easy curry recipe posts using, of course, curry powders! I will post one recipe a week for a curry from around the world, and also post a recipe for how to make your own curry powder.

But first, let me make something clear. There is no such thing as curry powder. Not in India at least. The first time I ever heard of a curry powder was outside India! In my own language, Tamil, the word “Kari” simply means either vegetables (“kai kari”) or meat.

Every Indian dish that requires powdered spices uses a blend that is unique to that dish. So there is no standard curry powder in India. (Just like how there is no standard curry in India). An Indian cook will roast and powder whole spices for each dish, specifically for that dish. A cook in India may also use a combination of different already ground spices.

So what exactly is curry powder? It’s a western, British invention. It is a blend of different powdered spices like turmeric, chili, coriander, cumin, fennel, cinnamon etc.  Instead of the various spice powders used in Indian cooking, you can use an already blended curry powder.

As inauthentic as curry powder is, I like its convenience. There are some great blends out there, and are usually the only ‘spice’ you need when making a dish. So curry powders are an easy shortcut and I like using them. They are especially handy for making quick dishes with great curry flavor. 

The Best Curry Powders

(in my opinion)

Note: This curry powder taste test is by no means exhaustive. I know there are many brands in the market that I haven’t tried. And I haven’t even addressed Thai and other curry powders/pastes/blends etc. I will reserve them for a future post.

Frontier Indian Curry Powder

Predominant flavors are roasted cumin and lemon peel. Light, and fresh tasting.
Available in some grocery stores and online
Use in
-          Light curries
-          Summer vegetables
-          Salad dressing

Recipes – Zucchini cauliflower curry , Curried tofu salad with Jicama

S&B Oriental Curry Powder

A mild, well balanced, well rounded blend.

Predominant flavors are turmeric, coriander, garlic.
Available in most grocery stores, Asian markets and online
Use in
-          Japanese curries
-          Tofu dishes
-          Recipes involving fruit and or a little sweetness

Recipes- Tofu and broccoli curry, Khao soi curry noodles

Penzey’s Hot Curry Powder

Spicy, with predominant chili and coriander flavor
Available at Penzey’s stores and online
Use in
-          Coconut milk based curries
-          Lentils, beans
-          Paneer or tofu

Recipes- Curried kale and white bean patties, Chickpea bunny chow

 

McCormick Gourmet Collection Curry Powder

Savory taste, with predominating onion flavor.
Available in grocery stores and online
Use in
-          Roasted vegetables
-          Pasta dishes
-          Root vegetable dishes

Recipes- Potato curry

Kitchen King by Badshah

Spicy, intense and complex. This blend is also made by MDH and Everest brands.
Available in Indian grocery stores and online
Use in
-          Rich sauces and gravies
-          Nut and cream based curries
-          Lentils

Recipes- Masala stuffed okra (use instead of the masala in the recipe)

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Comments

comments

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anu Menon September 21, 2012 at 3:21 pm

My personal fav of the lot is S&B. Its prefect for Thai based dishes and it works well on some Sabjis too. I use Badshah too but its a little too hot if I dont keep an eye out.

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2 pavithra September 21, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Love it Sala… Except Frontier I am using other one’s.

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3 Rosa September 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I wish i could find these here… I use TRS and it’s the best I’ve tried so far.

Cheers,

Rosa

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4 Susan September 21, 2012 at 7:47 pm

So glad you are undertaking this project as I am always looking for convenient curried veggie recipes. We avoid tofu (it’s the estrogen), so hope you will have alternatives with the tofu ones.
Looking forward to the future posts!

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5 Sonia September 21, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Agree! Never heard about curry powder in India. Came to know abt it just few years ago outside India. Well, even a simple garam masala can be vary from house to house. Been using only Badshah brand KK masala from above list. And some homemade curry powder from 660 curries and Madhur Jaffrey’s books.

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6 Lakshmi September 22, 2012 at 2:25 am

I never use store-bought spice mixtures, except curry powder, and even that I use only for certain preps that I know it works for brilliantly. There is only one brand here in Finland that I like. It is balanced as a contrast to the rest of them, and of course, without garlic. I’ve been trying to replicate it in my kitchen lab, unsuccessfully. Although I know the ingredients, I’m not able to get the proportions right. I would prefer homemade over store-bought. I would be delighted to see a recipe from you!

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7 Happy Cook / Finla September 22, 2012 at 9:39 am

I came rushing thinking you made curry powder from scratch :-)
When I first came here and ppl asked me aobut curry powder I was like we don’t have that in Inida, my mom always made her own things etc…

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8 Kathleen Richardson September 22, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I remember reading once that each family has their own special blend of spices. Good post. Miss you ’cause you don’t post often.

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9 viswa September 22, 2012 at 3:47 pm

A B Saved some trouble by his show!! Good one!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUEJbetPnLg

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10 indosungod September 25, 2012 at 4:31 am

They do have their place in the Indian kitchen for a quick meal with spices.
Bolst is one among the brands that I buy and it is good.

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11 Kankana September 27, 2012 at 11:33 am

I rarely use curry powder! At least now I know which one to buy and hopefully I start using it more.

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12 Anisha September 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm

I love this post! I have been creating my own curry mixes for everything from Thai to Indian and hot to cold. We love Curry! I am so glad to see some suggestions for an already mixed powder! Thanks!

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13 Halaal Recipes October 2, 2012 at 8:19 am

Excellent review and article. Great work, next time I am out shopping I will keep an eye out for these items.

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14 Boghill Centre October 6, 2012 at 8:16 am

My god I spent all my life wondering why we called a mix of veggies with some spices a curry…
Thank you for giving me the answer!

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15 Harini October 8, 2012 at 10:11 am

Sala,

Your photography is simply superb — keep up the good work.

Harini @ Clean Platter

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16 Ina November 16, 2012 at 9:35 am

Dear Sala,

I love your blog, it’s wonderful. Thank you for this useful review of different curry powders!

Ina @ Big Apple Curry

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17 Jonathan kandell August 10, 2013 at 10:32 am

My favorite go-to curry powder is the Green Label Ship brand madras curry powder. Readily available in arab and indian markets. You can’t miss it cause it comes in green tins.

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