What Are the Different Types of Indian Curry Pastes – and How Do You Use Them?

Indian cooking is categorically delicious. You get a complex mix of sweet, spicy, and savory flavors, tender meats, doughy breads, and vegetables coming together in a perfect meal. It’s a combination that’s both fancy and laid-back, and it smells as amazing as it tastes.

Now, in a perfect world, you’d cook Indian food with all authentic ingredients – no shortcuts.

But reality often throws a wrench in the works.

Maybe your local grocery store’s spice aisle isn’t exactly bursting with options, you don’t have hours to let something simmer on the stove, or your wallet’s feeling a bit light for a fresh haul of spices.

That’s exactly why cooking pastes are such a lifesaver, especially in the U.S., where Indian cooking is more accessible than ever. In this blog post, we’re diving into the world of Indian curry pastes. We’ll explore the different types created by Mekhala, their benefits, and how to use them for your recipes.

Understanding Indian Curry Pastes

Before we move on, let’s clear up a basic question: What exactly are Indian cooking pastes, and how do they stand out from dry spices and simmer sauces?

Cooking pastes (or curry pastes) are thick, concentrated mixtures made from ground herbs, spices, oils, and sometimes fresh ingredients like onions or garlic. They’re designed to lay down a solid flavor base for your dishes. All you need to do is throw in a few extra ingredients while cooking.

Dry spices are the individual or blended powdered spices traditional to Indian cuisine. You need to roast and mix them up properly during cooking to get the flavors just right.

Simmer sauces are usually ready-to-cook sauces that contain both the spices and liquid needed for a dish. They’re handy, but they don’t leave much room for tweaking flavor like you can with pastes or dry spices.

The Benefits of Using Curry Pastes

If you’re looking to add some spice to your kitchen without the fuss, Indian cooking pastes might just be your new best friend. Here’s why they’re such a hit.


Forget about juggling dozens of spice jars. Food pastes slash your prep time because they’ve already mixed the perfect spice blend for you.


New to the kitchen? No problem. With Indian cooking pastes, what you taste is what you get, every single time. They keep the flavor of your dishes predictable and delicious- which is a real boon if you’re still getting your culinary bearings.

Long Shelf Life

Most cooking pastes have a fantastic shelf life. Stash them in your fridge, and they’ll keep for ages. Freeze them, and they’re good for even longer.


Curry pastes aren’t just for Indian dishes. They’re incredibly versatile and can jazz up everything from marinades and stir-fries to soups. For example, you could use Mekhala Living’s Organic Tikka Masala Paste as a base to stir-fry a mix of bell peppers, snap peas, and tofu. Add a splash of coconut milk for a creamy texture- and voila! You have yourself a delicious dinner.

Types of Indian Curry Pastes and Their Uses

You’ve probably come across a wide range of Indian cooking pastes on the market. Each one offers a distinct flavor profile, ideal for creating various regional dishes right in your kitchen.

Let’s look at some of the most popular types of curry pastes, and the magic they can bring to your meals.

Tikka Masala Paste

Tikka masala is a real crowd pleaser. It’s a flavorful mix of warm spices and fresh ingredients. Just slather this paste on your chicken pieces, let them soak up all those tasty flavors, then grill them to perfection. Toss them into a creamy, spicy sauce, and you’ve got yourself a dish that’s sure to impress at any dinner table.

Vindaloo Paste

For a curry that packs some serious heat, you’ll want to try a vindaloo cooking paste. At Mekhala, we craft ours with organic shallots, dried red chili, tamarind pulp, and cumin, blended to deliver that iconic spicy punch. Our commitment to using organic ingredients means you’re cooking with the purest and most flavorful components.

Start by frying up the vindaloo paste to wake up those spicy flavors. If you’re in the mood for even more heat, toss in a few extra peppers during this step.

Next, add an Indian curry base made from onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and a mix of herbs and spices. To balance the intense flavors, mix in a sprinkle of sugar, then let it all simmer together. Since this is one of the spicier options, consider serving some cooling yogurt alongside to help soothe the spice.

Butter Masala Paste

A butter masala curry paste is your ticket to one of the most beloved dishes in Indian cuisine: butter chicken. This dish is a staple on Indian menus everywhere and is known for its creamy, buttery goodness.

Mekhala’s version of this classic paste is mild with just a hint of sweetness, and it’s incredibly easy to work with. No matter how busy you are, you can use this paste to quickly prepare a delicious, authentic butter masala. Just simmer the paste with cream, tomatoes, and your choice of protein or vegetables. The result? A rich, comforting curry that’s perfect for a family dinner or impressing guests.

Cooking Tips for Using Curry Pastes

Here are some practical tips for using Indian cooking pastes to make sure your dishes are delicious every time:

  • Start with Just a Little: Since curry pastes are concentrated spice blends, begin with a smaller amount than you think you need. You can always add more to ramp up the flavor, but you can’t take it back once it’s in there!
  • Heat it: Before anything else hits the pan, fry your curry paste in a bit of oil. This warms up the spices and gets them to release their full bouquet of flavors. Just a couple of minutes over medium heat should do the trick.
  • Make It Yours: Feel free to personalize your food paste. If the mood strikes, toss in some extra spices like a dash of turmeric or a handful of fresh cilantro.
  • Add Water Wisely: If your curry is thicker than you’d like, add a little water, but go slow. Unless you’re careful, you might dilute all those rich flavors you just built up.
  • Simmer to Perfection: After combining all your ingredients, let the dish simmer gently. Give it the time it needs to come together just right.
  • Finish with Freshness: Right before you serve add a sprinkle of fresh cilantro or mint for a bright, clean finish.

The Bottom Line 

Curry pastes are here to make cooking easier and your meals tastier. Have fun with them, and don’t be afraid to experiment!

At Mekhala, we are committed to crafting wholesome and sustainable Asian cooking pastes, using ingredients that are both good for you and the planet. Our products are made from organic, natural ingredients sourced locally. Try our Organic Indian Paste range today and have your dinner guests asking for more!

Shop online or use our store locator to find a Mekhala retailer near you.

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