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What are the Different Types of Indian Spices Used in a Curry Paste

Updated: Jun 14

Curry. The name itself conjures up images of vibrant colours, rich textures, and an explosion of taste. But have you ever stopped to think about the secret weapon behind every delicious curry? It's the curry paste, a concentrated blend of aromatic Indian spices that forms the soul of the dish.

The Indian spice trade is one of the oldest in history. For centuries, these fragrant treasures have been tantalising taste buds around the globe. There are countless variations of curry pastes, each reflecting the unique regional cuisines of India. But what are the common spices that weave this culinary magic?

5 Most Popular Indian Spices Used in a Curry Paste

5 Most Popular Indian Spices Used in a Curry Paste

Now, let's get down to the nitty-gritty! Here are some of the most popular Indian spices used in curry pastes, along with their flavour profiles:

1. Coriander

This citrusy and earthy spice adds a touch of warmth and depth to any curry. Coriander seeds, when toasted or ground, release a warm, citrusy aroma with a hint of floral sweetness. This fragrance is a key element in building the inviting and complex smell of a curry paste.

Coriander seeds contribute a citrusy and slightly nutty flavour profile. It complements the heat of chillis and the earthiness of other spices like cumin. The citrus element helps to brighten up the overall flavour profile, preventing the curry from becoming too heavy or monotone.


Beyond the initial citrusy punch, coriander seeds add a layer of warmth and depth to the curry. This is because they contain a compound called linalool, which is also found in lavender and other fragrant herbs. Linalool creates a smooth and well-rounded flavour experience.

Coriander seeds can temper the heat of chillis in a curry paste. While they don't necessarily reduce spiciness, their citrusy and slightly sweet notes can help to create a more balanced and harmonious flavour profile.

2. Cumin

Cumin's flavour profile is described as earthy, warm, and slightly bitter. This bitterness isn't unpleasant, but rather adds complexity and prevents the curry paste from being one-dimensional. It acts as a base note, similar to the bass in music. 


It provides a foundation upon which brighter, more prominent flavours like ginger, coriander, and chillis can shine. Cumin's warmth and earthiness help to "ground" the other spices in the curry paste. Similarly, cumin helps to balance and harmonise the various flavours in the paste.

While present, cumin isn't typically the dominant flavour in a curry paste. It's used in a way that complements and enhances the other ingredients. Cumin is a staple spice in Indian cuisine and features prominently in many curry pastes. You'll find it used in both whole and ground forms.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is what lends that characteristic golden yellow colour to most Indian curries. It brightens up the dish and makes it visually appealing. Turmeric brings a touch of warmth to the curry paste. It has a subtle peppery flavour but is not overpoweringly spicy. 


While not the most prominent aroma, turmeric adds a subtle earthy scent to the curry paste. This depth of aroma, along with other spices, creates the inviting fragrance of Indian curries.

So, turmeric plays a multifaceted role in Indian curry paste. It adds visual appeal, warmth to the flavour profile, depth to the aroma, and a touch of health benefit. It's a foundational element that makes the curry paste what it is!

4. Garam Masala

While it adds a lot of character, garam masala isn't usually the main flavour player in a curry paste. It complements other spices like chilli, coriander, and cumin. Garam masala isn't just heat. It's a blend of warm spices like cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and peppercorns. 

Garam Masala

The spices in garam masala are whole or toasted before grinding, which preserves their essential oils. These oils are what give the masala its amazing aroma, which translates beautifully to the curry paste.

There are two common ways to use garam masala with curry paste:

  • In the Paste: Some curry pastes include pre-ground garam masala as part of the spice mix. This infuses the base with its warmth and aroma from the beginning.

  • Finishing Touch: Often, garam masala is added as a separate step after the curry paste has been cooked. This allows the more delicate flavours of the blend to bloom and adds a final layer of complexity to the dish.

So, Garam masala is like the magic dust in Indian curries. Just a sprinkle unlocks a symphony of flavours - warm notes, enticing aromas, and an underlying depth that elevates any dish. But finding the perfect blend can be tricky.

That's why we created our very own brand of garam masala, meticulously crafted with the finest, freshest spices. We guarantee it will transform your curries, bringing out the magic you crave. Want to experience the difference for yourself? Try a pack of our garam masala, visit our Shop.

5. Chillis

Chillis are key ingredients in Indian curries, but their role goes beyond just heat! 

Indian cuisine uses a wide variety of chillis, not just the super-hot ones. Different chillis offer varying degrees of heat, from the mild warmth of Kashmiri chillis to the intense fire of Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Pepper). This allows for tailoring the spice level to individual preferences.


Fresh chillis have a grassy, vegetal note while dried chillis offer smokier, richer tones. The way chillis are used also affects the flavour. For instance, whole dried chillis add a subtle smokiness when tempered (tadka) in hot oil, while ground chilli powder delivers a more direct heat.

Chillis are rarely used alone in curries. They are usually combined with other aromatic spices like coriander, cumin, turmeric, and sometimes even fennel or fenugreek. This creates a harmonious blend of flavours where the heat complements and enhances the other spices.

These are just a few of the many spices that can be found in a curry paste. The beauty lies in the endless combinations and regional variations.

Homemade Curries, Anytime: Authentic Indian Curry Pastes

Thinking about whipping up your own curry but short on time or hard-to-find spices? We totally understand! Our pre-made Indian Curry Pastes are the secret weapon you need to whip up delicious, authentic curries at home or anywhere, in no time.

3 reasons why Indian curry paste deserves a permanent spot in your pantry

Here are 3 reasons why Indian curry paste deserves a permanent spot in your pantry:

1. Convenience

Forget hunting down countless spices. Sobhna’s curry pastes are bursting with perfectly balanced aromatics like coriander, cumin, chillis, and fragrant herbs, simmered to perfection. Just add protein, vegetables, and a touch of coconut milk (or broth for a lighter option) for a restaurant-worthy curry in minutes.

2. Heat Level Options

We offer a range of heat levels: mild, medium, and hot. Choose your perfect adventure, or create a flavour explosion by combining pastes! These pastes are your culinary canvas! Use them for classic curries like Butter Chicken or Saag Paneer, or get creative with stir-fries, soups, and even marinades.

3. Versatility

Think beyond the traditional curry. Pre-made pastes can be your secret ingredient for a variety of dishes. Use them as a marinade for chicken, tofu, or shrimp for a flavourful kick. Liven up stir-fries, add a spicy depth to soups and stews, or even create a vibrant curry mayo for sandwiches or wraps.

Plus, don't forget your Garam Masala! This magical blend is the finishing touch to any Indian dish. Sprinkle it in for an extra depth of warmth and complexity that elevates your curries from good to great.

Our ready-made Indian curry pastes provide the base layer of flavour, while garam masala adds a touch of sophistication. It's like having a personal Indian chef in your pantry!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1: Can I substitute spices in a curry paste recipe?

While creating an authentic curry paste from scratch is commendable, we understand that sometimes specific spices might be missing from your pantry. The beauty of our Indian curry pastes is their flexibility. Feel free to experiment with substitutions!

Here's a tip: Since our pastes are already bursting with flavour, start with a smaller amount of the substitute and gradually add more to taste. This way, you can achieve the desired flavour profile without overpowering the dish.

Remember: Substitutions might slightly alter the original taste, but they can still lead to delicious discoveries in the kitchen. So, let go of your inner culinary explorer and have fun!

2: How long can I store leftover curry paste?

Great question! Here's the deal:

  • Homemade Pastes: These are best used within a week. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.

  • Sobhna's Indian Curry Pastes: The beauty of our pre-made pastes is their extended shelf life! They're packed with goodness and can be stored in your pantry for months (check the "best before" date on the jar). Once opened, simply keep them refrigerated and they'll stay happy for several weeks.

Top Tip: Love a specific paste but worried you won't use it all up before it expires? Here's a hack! Freeze leftover paste in ice cube trays. Each cube will be roughly a tablespoon, perfect for portioning out for future curries.

With Sobhna's Pastes, convenience meets longevity! Now you can have delicious curries on hand whenever the craving strikes.

3: What are some good ways to use leftover curry paste?

We mentioned how convenient and versatile our pre-made pastes are, but did you know they can be stretched even further? Here's a bonus tip to get the most out of your Sobhna's Curry Paste:

  1. Marinades

Give your protein (chicken, tofu, paneer) or veggies an extra kick by marinating them in leftover paste. It infuses them with incredible flavour while tenderising them beautifully.

  1. Stir-Fry

Leftover paste is a lifesaver for quick and flavourful stir-fries. Simply add some chopped vegetables, protein, and a drizzle of oil to your pan, then stir in a spoonful of leftover paste for a restaurant-worthy dish in minutes.

  1. Soup

Turn leftover paste into a fragrant soup base! Sauté some onions and garlic, then add your leftover paste and some broth or coconut milk. Let it simmer for a few minutes, then add your favourite vegetables and protein for a hearty and flavourful soup.

Remember, with Sobhna's Curry Pastes, the possibilities are endless! Get creative and use them to add a taste of India to any dish.

Now that you've explored the wonders of Indian spices, it's time to unlock a world of flavour potential in your kitchen. Indian Curry pastes, these aromatic blends, are the heart and soul of countless Indian curries. With endless regional variations and combinations, the possibilities are truly endless.

But don't be intimidated by the vast spice world! We've taken the guesswork out of creating delicious curries with our range of pre-made Indian curry pastes. Each paste is bursting with perfectly balanced spices, simmered to perfection for an explosion of authentic flavour. 

Simply choose your protein, veggies, and preferred heat level (mild, medium, or hot) for a restaurant-quality curry in minutes.

Our ready-made pastes and Garam Masala are your gateway to exploring the delicious world of Indian cuisine. So ditch the long shopping lists and embrace the convenience – it's time to unleash your inner chef and experience the magic of Indian flavours in your own home.

Ready to spice up your kitchen? Shop now and explore our range of delicious and convenient Indian curry pastes, available in mild, medium, and hot to suit your taste buds. Each paste is crafted with the finest spices, simmered to perfection for an authentic taste explosion.

Don't forget the magic touch! Add a sprinkle of our expertly blended Garam Masala for an extra layer of complexity that elevates your curries to restaurant quality.

Craving More Inspiration? Follow us on social media for mouthwatering recipes, cooking tips, and upcoming cooking classes.

Let Sobhna's be your guide to exploring the vibrant world of Indian flavours. We can't wait to see your culinary creations!

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