Curry powder
Place of origin British Raj
Region or stateIndian subcontinent
Main ingredientsSpices (coriander, turmeric, cumin, chili peppers)

Curry powder is a spice mix originating from British India, not to be confused with the native spice mix of garam masala.[1][2]


As commercially available in Western markets, curry powder is comparable to the traditional Indian concoction of spices known as "garam masala".[3]

Conceived as a ready-made ingredient intended to replicate the flavor of an Indian sauce,[4][5] it was first sold by Indian merchants to British traders.[6]

Curry powder was used as an ingredient in 18th-century British recipe books,[7] and commercially available from the late 18th century,[8][9][10] with brands such as Crosse & Blackwell and Sharwood's persisting to the present.[11][12][7] The ingredient "curry powder", along with instructions on how to produce it,[13] are also seen in 19th-century US and Australian cookbooks, and advertisements.[14]

British traders introduced the powder to Meiji Japan, in the mid-19th century, where it became known as Japanese curry.[15]


In the West, the word "curry" is a broad reference to various Indian curries prepared with different combinations of spices in the Indian subcontinent.[16][17] The sauce-like component characterized by "curry" has been derived from the Tamil word kaṟi meaning literally 'sauce' or 'relish for rice', and finds synonyms with other regional references to local dishes evolving over thousands of years in the Indian subcontinent, such as "jhol", "shorba" and "kalia".[18][5]


A number of standards on curry powder have been defined. Most outline analytical requirements such as moisture, ash content, and oil content as well as permissible additives. Some also define a number of expected ingredients.

In the United States, curry powder is expected to contain at least these ingredients: turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, ginger, and cardamom.[19]

The 1999 East African Standard (EAS 98:1999) does not define an ingredient baseline.[20] A newer 2017 draft from Uganda does require turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek and mustard.[21]

The Indian (FSSAI), Pakistani (PS:1741-1997), and international (ISO 2253:1999) standards do not define a baseline of essential ingredients.[22]

Nutritional information

One tablespoon (6.3 g) of typical curry powder contains the following nutrients according to the USDA:[23]


  1. ^ "Curry | food". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  2. ^ Curried Cultures: Globalization, Food, and South Asia (1 ed.). University of California Press. 2012. ISBN 978-0-520-27011-4. JSTOR 10.1525/j.ctt7zw4ct.
  3. ^ llays, M (1978). "The Spices of India-II". Economic Botany. 32 (3): 238–263.
  4. ^ Krystal, Becky (19 September 2020). "Indian curries offer so much flavor and variety. These 6 recipes will expand your repertoire". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ a b Iyer, Raghavan (2016). 660 Curries. Workman Publishing Company.
  6. ^ Sahni, Julie (1980). Classic Indian Cooking. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc. pp. 39–40.
  7. ^ a b Jamieson, Sophie (13 January 2016). "Monks discover chicken curry recipe in 200-year-old cookbook". The Daily Telegraph.
  8. ^ "First British advert for curry powder". Archived from the original on 23 August 2021. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  9. ^ Nupur Chaudhuri; Margaret Strobel (1992). Western Women and Imperialism: Complicity and Resistance. Indiana University Press. pp. 240–. ISBN 0-253-20705-3.
  10. ^ "First British advert for curry powder". British Library. 1784. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012.
  11. ^ "TV review: Inside the Factory lifts the lid on how our curries are made". The Independent. 15 August 2018.
  12. ^ Taylor, Anna-Louise (11 October 2013). "Curry: Where did it come from?". BBC: Food Knowledge and Learning. Archived from the original on 29 March 2014.
  13. ^ "Curry Powder from The Virginia Housewife by Mary Randolph". Retrieved 23 August 2021.
  14. ^ Moran, Frieda. "From curried wombat to rendang and doro wat: a brief history of curry in Australia". The Conversation. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
  15. ^ Itoh, Makiko (26 August 2011). "Curry — it's more 'Japanese' than you think". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 8 January 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  16. ^ "Curry". Britannica.
  17. ^ Collingham, Lizzie (2006). Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 115. No Indian, however, would have referred to his or her food as a curry. The idea of a curry is, in fact, a concept that the Europeans imposed on India's food culture. Indians referred to their different dishes by specific names ... But the British lumped all these together under the heading of curry.
  18. ^ "Curry". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  19. ^ "Commercial Item Description - Spices And Spice Blends" (PDF). U.S. Department of Agriculture. 5 April 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  20. ^ "EAST AFRICAN STANDARD: Curry powder — Specification".
  21. ^ "DUS DEAS 98:2017 Curry powder — Specification" (PDF).
  22. ^ "FSSAI Standards for Curry Powder". Food Safety Mantra Blog.
  23. ^ "Spices, curry powder". FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. 1 April 2019 [April 2018]. Retrieved 10 July 2020.