Skip to Content

The 5 Best Substitutes for Madras Curry Paste

5 from 1 vote Only logged in users can rate recipes

Do you like your curries on the mild side, or do you like them punched with flavor? If you’re in the latter group, then you’ll want to give Madras curry paste a try.

This fiery paste is made with a blend of chili peppers, ginger, garlic, and spices like cumin and mustard seed.

It’s commonly used in Indian and Sri Lankan cooking, but it can also be used in other cuisines as well.

So how do you use it? Here are some ideas:

  • Use it as a marinade for chicken, lamb, or fish. Just add a few tablespoons of curry paste to your favorite yogurt or oil and let your protein of choice soak in the flavors for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Add a spoonful or two to your soups and stews for an extra kick of flavor.
  • Mix it with mayo or cream cheese to make a delicious dip for crackers or veggie sticks.

However, if you use it, be warned that Madras curry paste is quite spicy.

If you’re sensitive to heat, start with a small amount and add more to taste.

And if you can’t find Madras curry paste at your local grocery store, don’t worry.

There are plenty of substitutes that will give your dishes the same flavor profile.

In this article, we’ll share five of the best substitutes for Madras curry paste.

What is Madras Curry Paste?

Madras curry paste is a spicy, aromatic paste that originates from the region of Madras in India.

It is typically made with a combination of chili peppers, cumin, coriander, cloves, and garlic.

The precise ingredients and proportions vary depending on the recipe, but the result is always a fiery and flavorful paste.

Curry paste has a long history in Indian cuisine.

It was originally used as a marinade for meats, but it quickly became a popular addition to curries and other dishes.

Today, it is a staple ingredient in many Indian households. Madras curry paste is very versatile.

It can be used to create both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.

It can be added to soups and stews or used as a marinade for chicken or fish.

The possibilities are endless. If you’re looking for a way to spice up your cooking, Madras curry paste is definitely worth trying.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Madras Curry Paste

If you’re looking for a Madras curry paste substitute, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Here are the 5 best substitutes for Madras curry paste:

1 – Sambal Oelek

Sambal oelek is a type of chili paste that originates from Indonesia.

It is made from ground chili peppers, vinegar, and salt.

Sambal oelek has a very fiery taste and a thick, almost paste-like texture.

Because of its intense heat, it is often used as a condiment rather than an ingredient.

When substituting sambal oelek for madras curry paste, use half the amount called for in the recipe.

Madras curry paste is sweeter and not as fiery as sambal oelek, so the two cannot be used interchangeably.

When using sambal oelek in place of madras curry paste, be sure to add additional sweetening agents such as honey or sugar.

2 – Thai Red Curry Paste

Thai red curry paste is a key ingredient in many Thai dishes.

It is made from a blend of chili peppers, lemongrass, galangal, garlic, shallots, and kaffir lime leaves.

The paste has a fiery flavor and a thick, slightly sticky texture.

It is commonly used to make Thai red curry, but it can also be used as a substitute for Madras curry paste in other Indian dishes.

When substituting Thai red curry paste for Madras curry paste, use a 1:1 ratio.

Keep in mind that the flavor of the dish will be slightly different with Thai red curry paste, so adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

3 – Garam Masala

Garam Masala is a blend of ground spices used in Indian cooking.

The word “garam” means “hot” in Hindi, and this spice blend is indeed quite fiery.

Garam Masala typically contains cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, and cinnamon.

Some recipes also call for nutmeg, mace, or fennel seeds.

The spices are usually roasted to bring out their flavor, then ground into a powder.

The taste of Garam Masala can be quite strong, so it’s best to start with a small amount and add more to taste.

The heat level can also vary depending on the brand or recipe used.

As a general rule, 1 teaspoon of Garam Masala can be substituted for 1 tablespoon of Madras curry paste.

When substituting Garam Masala for Madras curry paste, keep in mind that the flavor profile of the dish will change significantly.

The final dish will be much more savory and less sweet than with Madras curry paste.

4 – Tikka Masala Paste

Tikka Masala Paste is a type of Indian cuisine.

It has a strong, savory flavor with hints of cumin, coriander, and chili peppers.

The paste is thick and creamy, with a slightly spicy taste.

Tikka Masala Paste can be used as a substitute for Madras curry paste in curries and stews.

It can also be used to marinate chicken or fish before cooking.

Tikka Masala Paste is available in most grocery stores, either in the international aisle or the spice section.

When substituting Tikka Masala Paste for Madras curry paste, use equal amounts of each.

You may need to adjust the amount of spice to your liking.

For example, if you find Tikka Masala Paste too spicy, you can add more coconut milk or cream to mellow out the flavors.

5 – Vindaloo Paste

Vindaloo paste is a type of Indian curry paste that is very popular in the Goa region of India.

It is made with a mixture of spices, including cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and red chili peppers.

The paste has a very strong flavor and a fiery red color.

It is typically used to make a type of curry known as vindaloo, which is very spicy and can be quite hot.

Vindaloo paste can also be used as a substitute for Madras curry paste in many recipes.

When using it as a substitute, it is important to add less of the paste than you would use of the Madras curry paste, as it is much more potent.

Vindaloo paste is readily available in most Indian grocery stores.


In conclusion, there are several substitutes that can be used in place of Madras curry paste.

These include Thai red curry paste, garam masala, tikka masala paste, and vindaloo paste.

Each of these substitutes will change the flavor profile of the dish, so be sure to adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

Some of these substitutes, such as Thai red curry paste, can be found in most grocery stores.

Others, such as garam masala, may need to be purchased at an Indian grocery store.

Whichever substitute you choose, be sure to use it in equal or lesser amounts than the Madras curry paste called for in the recipe.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Madras Curry Paste

Recipe by Andrew Gray Course: Substitutes


Prep time


Cooking time


Total time




  • Sambal Oelek

  • Thai Red Curry Paste

  • Garam Masala

  • Tikka Masala Paste

  • Vindaloo Paste


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.

Recipe Video

About The Author