Madras Curry Powder vs Curry Powder

One surprising fact about both curry powder and Madras curry powder is that they are not spice blends from India, but from Britain. This isn’t surprising as there has been a significant presence of Indians in this country. These spice blends are formulated for British taste buds -- despite this, the ingredients in these blends have Indian roots and consists of spices that are used in Indian cooking.

Usually, Indian dishes can taste vastly different in each household as each family has their own recipe for these blends. There are store-bought curry powders out there but the flavor of a dish can be next-level if the spices that are used are freshly ground.


How is Madras Curry different from Standard Curry Powder?

Curry Powder

Curry powder was invented in the 18th century by English colonists that were participating in the spice trade. These Englishmen were unfamiliar with how complex spice preparation was and came to associate “curry” as the blend of spices used to season traditional dishes.

These spice blends have the same core ingredients, namely Turmeric which provides a vibrant yellow color, while fenugreek and cumin provide most of the flavor. Ingredients such as coriander, sesame seeds, nutmeg, fennel, and cloves are also widely used. These days, curry powder is almost always available in most grocery stores.

Madras Curry Powder

Madras curry originated from the south of India and gets its name from the city of Madras. The difference between Madras curry and standard curry is the heat. While spice blends differ from person to person, Madras curry tends to have more of a kick to it.

Madras curry is usually darker and redder in color as one significant addition to the blend is ground chili peppers. Madras curry has an earthy fragrance from the combination of spices and it can be tweaked and adjusted according to one’s personal preference.

Another difference between standard curry and Madras curry is the availability of the ingredient. While standard curry can be found almost anywhere, Madras curry may only be available in specialty Asian or Indian groceries.

When to use Madras Curry and Standard Curry

Both of these spice blends can be used when a recipe calls for curry powder, although if you prefer spicier food, Madras curry can be used exclusively. On the other hand, sticking to regular curry powder is recommended if you’re new to using this ingredient or if you have a low spice tolerance.

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