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Should I use Malaysian curry powder or paste?

Curry powder and curry paste might seem interchangeable, but there are regional variations in flavor, heat, and color. When it comes to using curry powder and paste, knowing when to add each one will help you to improve your cooking and delight your guests. 


Curry is a dish that contains many herbs and spices, sometimes hot chillies, and can be easily manipulated while cooking as building flavor is key. It’s a delicious dish to serve whether you’re cooking for friends or eating with family, but knowing whether to use powder or paste will make all the difference. Whether you are cooking an Indian dish, for example, or a Thai dish, can help you to make your decision. Here’s a breakdown of the two below. 

Curry Powder

Curry powder is a blend of dried, powdered spices, usually containing turmeric, coriander, red peppers, and other ingredients. There’s a range of powders available, and all the different regions have different blends of them – so if you are cooking a Malaysian dish, you will need to ensure you have picked up the right powder. Curry powder is a good place to start for some if you are worried about too much curry flavor in your dish and want to ensure that your dish is milder in flavor.

Malaysian Curry Paste

Curry paste contains a blend of spices, as well as oils and fresh ingredients. You barely need to add seasoning at all when using a paste as the flavors are potent and noticeable. Used predominantly in Southeast Asian dishes, they range from mild to extremely spicy, so they can be great for those who prefer to add fresher, more potent ingredients to their dishes and would love a nice kick of spice. 

Curry is a good basis for some of the world’s most fundamental dishes. Whether you’re looking to cook a slow burning masala or a super hot Thai red curry, knowing which one of the above ingredients is best will change the game for you. Paste is the best choice for Malaysian dishes, providing great flavor and that sweat inducing heat. If you would rather not break a sweat while you eat your meal, you can always opt for a milder paste, or use less of it. Most importantly, understanding the region of your dish and the difference in flavor will help you to select the very best ingredients, including your curry powder or curry paste. 

Check Out Mama Lam’s For Your Curry Paste

For a range of delicious curry pastes and hot sauces, check out our curry products. Here, you’ll find recipes and a huge range of sauces from mild to hot, with vegan options available.