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Gourmet Hacks: 5 BEST Madras Curry Paste Substitutes

Oh, the joy of cooking and then—bam!—you’re out of Madras curry paste.

This isn’t just a tiny hiccup; it feels like your whole meal plan has skidded off the rails.

Been there, right? Frustrating as it is, it’s also a fantastic chance to mix things up.

You’re about to become the MacGyver of the kitchen, whipping up alternatives that could even outshine the original.

No Madras curry paste? No problem.

We’re here to arm you with swaps so good, your curry won’t even miss the OG paste.

Get ready to raid your spice rack with us—your dishes are about to level up in unexpected and thrilling ways.

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.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Madras Curry Paste

Elevate your Madras curry dishes with these 5 best substitutes for Madras curry paste. Whether you're out of the paste or seeking a different flavor profile, these alternatives will add the perfect depth of taste to your culinary creations.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • 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.
Keyword Substitutes for Madras Curry Paste
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