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Jan 7, 2009 02:30 PM

Substitute for red curry powder?

I am planning a coconut curry for dinner tonight. One of the ingredients is 1 tsp. red curry powder. I looked at several stores and was unable to find this ingredient, and now it's too late.

So, can anyone suggest a substitute? I have regular yellow curry powder, but I'm not sure that's the same thing.


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  1. The McCormick website says its red curry powder contains Coriander, Cumin, Chili Pepper, Red Pepper, and Cardamom. I bet if you mix yellow curry powder with chili powder or red pepper, you could wing it.

    1. Thai curries, Indian Curries, and British curry powder are completely different things. Totally different flavors. The term coconut curry leads me to believe you are trying to make a Thai coconut MILK curry? Like a Thai Red Curry? I'm not sure what "regular yellow curry powder" is, but I'll assume that it's British curry powder since most of those are simply labeled "curry powder."

      A substitute for red curry powder would be copius amounts of fresh garlic, fresh ginger, galangal, lime juice, a little cumin, chile garlic sauce, sauteed in oil in a med heat for about 5 min. Bonus if you can get some lemongrass and kefir lime leaf pureed in the mix. I'll assume your recipe also calls for fish sauce to mix the powder into a paste, or at least calls for a splash at some point. If this is a Thai curry you're after, then "regular yellow curry powder" is not going to net you anything close to a thai flavor if your yellow curry powder is simply British curry powder. There is a world of difference. Now, Thai also has a yellow curry, maybe this is what you have? It's just all very vague, but judging from your post (and I could be totally wrong) it sounds as though you are trying to fabricate a Thai red coconut milk curry using British curry powder - which is a mistake I hear of ppl making all the time.

      P.s. I would keep Chili Powder away from this and any other recipe at all costs. Pls note, chile powder (ground chiles) is completely different than chili powder (a blend of spices - mostly cumin and salt.) Most ppl will throw away their British curry powder and Chili powder after they start using fresh spices suited to their own tastes to create dishes instead of using a canned concoction of old mystery spices that suits someone else's tastes. And usually, buying sep. spices will net you fresher results, and also might be cheaper.

      1. Red pepper paste mixed with ground cumin, and cayanne pepper would be a start?

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodsmith

          Is/was the coconut curry dish you wanted to make a Thai dish? If so, I can give you a good authentic recipe for making your own red curry paste.

        2. I thnk what you are looking for is red curry paste - you probably need an oriental store for this - there are lots of recipes online. Of course you do not need red curry paste to make a good coconut curry. You can take it in the direction of Jamaican curry with madras curry powder and some allspice, black pepper and thyme, or SE asian (more like the red curry paste) with some sambal oelek, fish sauce, garlic or onions, sugar and lemon grass (or lime leaves, basil or cilantro) . Good luck!