Is garam masala just curry powder?

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “Is garam masala just curry powder?” We will also discuss how garam masala differs from curry powder as well as how it is similar to curry powder. Moreover, we will answer if curry powder can be used as a substitute for garam masala.

Is garam masala just curry powder?

No, garam masala is not the same thing as curry powder, they are two similar but separate spice blends. These two spice blends use many common spices but garam masala is more flavored in comparison to curry powder. Turmeric is a key ingredient in curry powder while it is not used in garam masala.

How does garam masala differ from curry powder?

Appearance and flavor

Garam masala is brown in color while curry masala has a yellowish hue. Garam masala is a hot spice, as its English translation itself indicates. Due to the flavorful spices used in it, it is a lot deeper in flavors giving a warm, pungent, and slightly sweet taste. 

On the contrary, the flavors of curry powder are quite mild, where turmeric is the primary ingredient giving it its yellow vibrant color.

Spices used

Garam masalaCurry powder
Green CardamomTurmeric
Cumin seedsChili powder
Coriander seedsFenugreek
Black cardamomCloves
Fennel seeds
Black pepper corn


Garam masala is a traditional Indian spice blend that is a key ingredient in many popular Indian dishes. There have been many theories that curry powder originated from India, but, on the contrary, curry powder was created by the British to replicate the essence of Indian cuisines. 

Use in cooking

Garam masala is usually added at the end of the cooking process but curry powder is used earlier in the cooking along with the other ingredients. Adding the garam masala at the end preserves and enhances the flavors and aroma of the spices used. 

The secret to using garam masala is to know when and how much to use. Adding too much garam masala will only mess up all the flavors and make your food taste bitter. 

In the case of curry powder, it’s important that you add it earlier while preparing the base so that its raw flavors are cooked properly. 

What are the similarities between garam masala and curry powder?

  • Both garam masala and curry powder are two widely used spice blends.
  • Both use many similar spices like cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves but curry powder uses comparatively more cumin and coriander than garam masala.

Can we substitute curry powder for garam masala?

Although curry powder and garam masala don’t have the exact flavor profile because of the quality of spices used in each of them, they can be used as substitutes depending on the recipes. 

If your recipe requires mild flavors, you can use curry powder but due to the strong flavors of garam masala, it cannot be replaced in recipes that require deeper flavor. 

For a homemade curry powder recipe, please follow the link here.

What does curry powder comprise?

Curry powder is the mixture of different spices commonly used in your recipes including turmeric, cumin, chili powder, ginger, coriander, and pepper. 

The number of spices used may vary according to your preference. The more spices you use, the more flavorful your curry powder will be.

Curry leaves are not the same as curry powder. One might think that curry powder is made by blending the dried curry leaves but this is purely a misconception. You may also add the dried curry leaves to this mixture though.

What type of spice is Garam Masala?

Garam Masala is a traditional Indian spice that is a blend of different spices like coriander seeds, cumin, cardamom, black peppercorns, nutmeg, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, etc. These are the most commonly used ingredients while making garam masala. 

It was originally used in India and other southeast Asian countries like Nepal, Srilanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan for cooking varieties of dishes but today it’s a name that is familiar to all of us throughout the world. 

Basically, garam masala tastes like a complex blend of all of these ingredients used while making it but it also adds a unique taste and aroma to your recipe that none of those spices can give when used individually.

Other FAQs about Spices that you may be interested in.

Are cloves edible?

Do spices expire

Do bay leaves go bad

Can I use cardamom instead of coriander?


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “Is garam masala just curry powder?” We have also discussed how garam masala differs from curry powder as well as how it is similar to curry powder. Moreover, we will answer if curry powder can be used as a substitute for garam masala.