If you’ve been reaching for the curry powder every time you make Indian curries, then you’ve been making a mistake. Sure, it might seem like the obvious choice, but curry powder isn’t traditionally used in Indian cooking at all. Balpreet Singh Chadha, corporate chef at Sanjh, explains, “Curry powder is not an Indian spice blend. Curry powder is a blend of spices that comes from British colonial India that Indians made for the British; however, it is not used in traditional Indian food.”
According to Shilpa Joshi, food blogger at Some Indian Girl, curry powder was invented to make Indian food easier to make with a one-size-fits-all blend of spices. However, she notes that by using it, “you lose the nuance of flavor you get with the amount and types of spices used in different recipes and therefore lose the true flavor of a dish.”
But, there are alternative spice blends that are actually used in traditional Indian cooking. “Some of the Indian spice blends that are most popular are garam masala, thanda masala, chai masala, biryani masala, chaat masala, kebab masala, and podi masala,” says Chadha. “Each different spice blend has a unique purpose depending on the dish and region of India it comes from.” So, you don’t necessarily have to use individual spices for every recipe or make your own spice blends (although you certainly can); you just have to ditch the curry powder for blends such as garam masala and chaat masala.