Curry Powder vs Garam Masala: Understanding the Differences

Curry Powder vs Garam Masala

The difference between curry powder and garam masala comes from the ingredients used and the way they are added to the dishes. Both are often confused due to their similar appearance and use of spices. Garam masala is prominent in Indian cuisine, particularly in North India. This article will discuss the ingredients used in curry powder and garam masala, as well as how they are added to food, to help you understand the difference between the two.

Chefs are experts in the use of curry powder and garam masala, knowing the correct amount to add to dishes. Curry powder is specially made for chicken, and is also known as chicken curry masala or simply chicken masala.

What is Curry Powder?

Curry powder is yellowish-orange in color, due to the turmeric used in its blend. Traditional curry powder is a collection of 20 ground spices and herbs, while a more modern, less complicated version is now used in cuisine. Curry powder is mainly added to curry to provide extra taste. Coriander seeds are commonly used in curry powder, along with other spices such as cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, black peppercorns, dried red chilies, fenugreek seed, turmeric, and dried curry leaves. Curry powder should only be used in curry, and should be added at the early stages of cooking to avoid a raw smell.

Key Takeaways

  • Curry powder is yellowish-orange and is added to curry for extra taste.
  • Garam masala is reddish-brown and is added to a variety of dishes for extra taste.
  • Curry powder is added in the early stages of cooking, while garam masala is added in the final stages or after cooking.

What is Garam Masala?

Garam masala is reddish or brownish in color. The Hindi words garam masala mean warm spice or hot spice. Garam masala is added to curry and other dishes for extra taste, but does not include as many spices as the traditional curry powder blend. Garam masala is considered nutritious because it is made from a combination of spices, cereals, salt, and grams, which are rich in protein and mineral content. Garam masala is a special kind of spice blend, consisting of spices from different categories, such as sweet cinnamon and savory coriander.

Spices used in garam masala include coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, shahjeera, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, dried ginger, bay leaves, and grams and cereals. Garam masala is popular in dishes such as lady’s finger curry and potato curry. It should be added towards the final stages of cooking or even after the food has come off the stove, as some ingredients can become bitter if cooked for too long.

What is the difference between Curry Powder and Garam Masala?

  • Curry powder is yellowish-orange, while garam masala is reddish-brown.
  • Curry powder is used for seasoning and adding flavor and color to a dish, while garam masala is used as a final seasoning.
  • Curry powder is added in the early stages of cooking, while garam masala is added in the final stages or after cooking.
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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