What can I use if I don’t have curry paste?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “What can I use if I don’t have curry paste?”, tell you whether you can use curry powder in place of curry paste and discuss whether you need to cook curry paste or not.

What can I use if I don’t have curry paste?

You can use the following substitutes for when you do not have curry paste. Note that these are substitutes for red curry paste, however you can use them to make other curries if need be. You will just need to add other ingredients to match the flavor profile of other curries.

Green curry paste

The main difference between red and green curry pastes is that green curry paste has green chillies. However you can add paprika or chili powder to green curry paste to make it spicier and add a tinge of red color. 

Yellow curry paste

Although yellow curry paste is milder than red curry paste and predominantly has turmeric in it, it can also be used as a substitute for red curry paste. You can add chili powder or chili flakes to the paste and make it more spicy,

Red chili paste

Red chili paste can be used in place of red curry paste because it has red chillies. However it lacks the other ingredients such as garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and basil. So they can be added to chili paste to make it taste like curry paste.

Turmeric with chili paste

Another main ingredient in curry paste is turmeric so addition of turmeric to chili paste can be used as a substitute for curry paste.

Tomato paste with chili flakes

This combination will obviously not give the same flavor profile as curry paste but can be used to make a lot of sauces and pastas. Moreover chili flakes can give the same amount of heat as the red curry paste.

Can I use curry powder in place of curry paste?

No, you can not use curry powder in place of curry paste because the final dish made with curry powder will not have the same flavor profile as the dish made with curry paste. 

The same is true for when you are trying to substitute curry paste in place of curry powder. The two have very different texture and flavor profiles. Just because they share the same word “curry”, does not mean they can be used interchangeably. 

Does curry paste need to be cooked?

Yes, curry paste needs to be cooked. Curry paste is a blend of raw aromatic spices mixed together with vegetable oil. In order for them to make a flavorful curry, they need to be cooked beforehand. If you eat raw curry paste, it may taste bad.

Fry the curry paste with a dash of oil in a pan before adding meat and vegetables. Or just simmer the curry paste in water or stock for a while before adding other ingredients. This ensures that the spices burst out their flavor.

In addition, you never know where the raw spices have been while they are being processed. They might as well contain some bacterial spores which need to be killed by heating them.

Some people also suggest microwaving the curry paste as it is over rice for example. If this works for you, go ahead.

Our suggestion is to properly cook the paste before you go ahead with adding other ingredients to it for best results.

Find more about cooking curry paste here.

Do you add water to curry paste?

Yes, you can add water to curry paste. In fact, a lot of recipes ask you to add water to curry paste.

Water can be added to make the curry thinner. While many people use coconut milk, if you want to bring down the calories or if you do not have coconut milk, just add water. Sometimes, people also use chicken stock for added flavor.

In addition, Indian curries often use yogurt for the base sauce.

It may also be helpful in dialing down some spice level and making the curry more mild.

Other FAQs about Curry  that you may be interested in.

What can I add to curry paste?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “What can I use if I don’t have curry paste?”, told you whether you can use curry powder in place of curry paste and discussed whether you need to cook curry paste or not.

Citations

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.