Do you love curries? I love them too that it why I have tried all sorts of curry recipes, like Thai curries and Indian curries. Actually, the term “curry” is derived from the Tamil word “kari” meaning sauce.
Curry paste and curry powder are two based ingredients of curry dishes. Although both are spices, they are used in different ways. Find out more as I explore the contrast of curry paste vs curry powder.
What is Curry Paste?
Curry paste is usually a blend of fresh ingredients, like chilies, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, cilantro, and shallot. It also includes several spices, including coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and turmeric. This is often used in Thai cuisine as a great accompaniment for coconut milk to create the sauce or the soup.
This type of spice mix may come in different variants:
1. Green curry paste for the daredevil
Its green color comes from the fresh green chilies used. These green chilies contribute to the spicy kick of green curry pastes. However, the heat of this paste varies from the size and strength of green chilies used.
For those interested to create their own green curry paste at home, check this video.
You can cook this paste along with coconut milk and stock for a lighter and more aromatic output. Personally, I use green curry paste with chicken, duck, and beef. Several dishes that you can try using green curry paste include French Bean and Duck Thai Curry, Thai Green Chicken Curry, and Thai Green Beef Curry.
2. Red curry paste for moderate heat
Its red color is derived from red chilies. Its level of heat is moderate. Instead of buying red curry paste in Asian grocery stores, you can actually make your own at home. You may follow the instructions in this video.
Red curry paste may be the most versatile as compared to yellow and green curry pastes. This is because you can use it in a wide range of dishes, like beef curry, seafood curry, and chicken curry. You may also add a teaspoon of it on noodles or to marinades for a hint of spiciness.
3. Yellow curry paste for mellow taste buds
Its yellow color comes from the yellow peppers used. This has a milder taste as compared to red or green curry paste. Learn how to make your own yellow curry paste in this video.
This sweet and spicy paste also uses turmeric and curry powder as base ingredients. Its mild flavor goes well with fish stews or Yellow Chicken Curry.
What is Curry Powder?
Curry powder is usually made of coriander, cumin, turmeric, and red pepper. Its yellow color is derived from turmeric. It is highly popular in Western countries as an all around spice blend. Unlike curry paste, curry powder is easily available in grocery stores.
This spice blend is mostly used in Indian curries. Like curry paste, it also has several variants:
1. Mild yellow for a mild taste
This variant of curry powder uses basic ingredients, like salt, cumin, coriander, and turmeric. If you like to create your own mild yellow curry powder, follow the instructions here. You may use this variant for sauces, rice, and soups.
2. Brown for a spicy kick
This type of curry powder may include peppers, clove, and cinnamon in addition to the basic ingredients used in mild yellow curry powder. This gives the similar full flavor of mild yellow curry plus the spicy taste of peppers.
3. Spicy for extreme heat
This constitutes all the ingredients of mild yellow and brown curry powders plus fresh chilies or chili powder. This provides the hottest flavor among all other curry powders as it adds fresh chilies or chili powder in the spice mix. It goes well with meat-based dishes.
How to Use Curry Paste and Curry Powder?
For curry paste, fry it in a pan for about a minute to bring out the flavor.
Before you fry the curry paste in the pan, stir it first in the jar with a spoon as the oil tends to float on the top.
You can also marinate your meat with the curry paste before you fry it on the pan with oil. For every pound of meat, you may use 5 tbsp of curry paste. Watch it here for guidance. However, the amount of curry paste depends on your preference. If you want it more spicy and strong, you can add more curry paste.
Since curry powder burns if you fry it in oil, you can mix them with a bit of water to make a paste.
You need to add water on curry powder because it is prone to burn. You can do this process while you wait for your onions and garlic to fry.
Curry powder (with a bit of water) should be added together with the garlic, onion, and rest of the spices to enhance the flavor. You may also add the curry powder directly into the soup as it boils. However, doing this may not produce the same powerful flavor like how it is done in the former.
Curry Paste vs Curry Powder: What’s the Difference?
Here is a comparative table showing the difference between curry paste and curry powder.
- Green, red, or yellow
- Yellow-orange, brown, or yellow
Add a bit of water to make paste
Have you make up your mind which spice mix to use for your next curry recipe? Personally, in the comparison, curry paste vs curry powder, I find curry paste more powerful in flavor. However, it is not readily available in grocery stores, unlike curry powder which you can easily spot in spice aisles.
Actually, you may use either of the two. It all depends on your preference and convenience. If you have something to share don’t hesitate to leave comments below. We would love to hear from you!
- 1 What is Curry Paste?
- 2 What is Curry Powder?
- 3 How to Use Curry Paste and Curry Powder?
- 4 Curry Paste vs Curry Powder: What’s the Difference?
- 5 Final Thoughts