Mamta's Kitchen

Forum Thread - Kashmiri chilli powder

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Mamta, on 7/3/2010 03:26pm

Hello Seema

Welcome :-)!

We were all, well almost all, bad cooks when we started. As you cook more and more, you will get better. As Winton says, old spices may be a problem, though it is unlikely if you are living in India and cooking Indian food twice a day.

In older Indian tradition, a particular vegetable/dal etc. had to be cooked with the exact spices of that region prescribed for that dish. There is a lot of mixing and matching these days, so if you use unusual spices for a dish, that is fine. Just give it a clever name, and no one will know ;-)!

Quality of an Indian dish also depends on how you prepare the 'Masala' spice mix, how you fry onions etc., etc. If you ask us specific question about what has gone wrong for you when making a certain dish, we may be able to help you better.

Best wishes


Lapis, on 29/6/2010 05:11pm

Byadgi chillies are easy to spot, if you can find them. They are wrinkled, and sometimes a good red colour, which will darken on storage. These are the ones usually sold under the 'Kashmiri' flag.

However, what is a Mangalorean dish doing being made with 'Kashmiri' chillies? By a strange coincidence, the Byadgi chilli I'm afraid its all a scam propagated by TV chefs(of all nationalities). I even have a dvd of Camelia Punjabi holding byadgi chillies, proclaiming them 'Kashmiri' ones. She should know better.

here is a (poor) picture of Byadgi chilles, not my photos, which are on a sick computer ATM.


here are real Kasmiri chillies.


I can confirm both are correct.

Hope the pics show, please amend if they don't.

Robby, on 1/9/2010 02:34pm

I read the whole discussion between Mamta ji and lapis, but my small doubt remains. I just want to find out which of the two should be used to bring out colour to the dish. Specially the non veg ones like Mutton etc. MDH masale are selling both the types in different packing. Kindly advise.

Mamta, on 1/9/2010 04:06pm

It is not always easy to find named chillies in Indian shops. They are mostly sold as mild, medium and hot, sometimes Extra hot too. Then there is paprika, which is purely for colour. I use medium hot chillies for heat (don't like very hot food) and paprika for colour.


Lapis, on 1/9/2010 05:38pm

the colour is only soluble in oil, so whatever you use, it msy be extracted into oil. Paprika is good, as it can be had without heat, or I sometimes use fresh red capsicums (in oil). SMoked paprika is excellent, too, although all paprikas absorb water and can 'go off' rather rapidly.

Personally, I would use the chilli powder that looks the most red, and hope it has no 'added' colour! I very rarely use chilli powder, prefering fresh chillies, which can be fried, whereas the powder burns quickly!

John, on 14/11/2010 06:46pm

I have been searching for this for ages found the answer with full list of ingrdint from tandoori glossary. I found this definition for Kashmiri chilli powder which they call curry masala basaar:

Definition: Curry Masala (Basaar)

This is a premix of different herbs and spices ground into powder. Curry Masala (Basaar) is also known as Kashmiri masala (basaar). Curry Masala (Basaar) comes in mild, hot, and extra hot. Curry Masala (Basaar) is used as base herb mix for curry’s and stir fry. The ingredients are: paprika, turmeric, coriander, chilli, garlic, cloves, ginger, black cardamoms, curry leaf, fennel, cumin, fenugreek, mustard, black pepper, ground cinnamon, star aniseed, rapeseed oil and sunflower oil.

Direct link:

Lapis, on 14/11/2010 10:31pm

doesn't sound Indian, let alone Kashmiri. Kashmiri chili powder is just powdered chillies.

For a start, one doesn't find such mixes in Indian cooking, especially not described as herbs, this is found on UK "Indian restaurant' menus, not Indian recipes. The Kashmiris do not use fenugreek definitely not curry leaves, mustard seeds or star anise.

As far as I am concerned, this is completely made up. You can't believe everything you read on the net. And Tandoori cooking is not a Kashmiri thing, more Punjabi.

Patrick, on 16/11/2010 12:15pm

Hi all.

I have some dried Kashmiri/non-Kashmiri chillies and need to know the best way to grind them to a powder/paste in order to extract their colour and flavour. I used about 10 chillies in a dish recently but it didn't look very red. Tasted good though. Any ideas?


Mamta, on 16/11/2010 12:50pm

Hello Patrick

Personally I wouldn't grind chillies dry, the dust gets everywhere, into mucous membranes you didn't know you had and the cuts you did not know you had! I don’t discard the seeds of chillies. So to make a paste, I would grind them together, seeds and all, in a coffee grinder (I keep one just for spices). For colour only, grind the de-seeded Kashmiri chillies. I use dry ‘sweet paprika’ powder for colour myself. Let’s see what others do.

SteveAUS, on 19/11/2010 04:34am

...I use sweet paprika for colour too



Martin, on 9/4/2013 07:51pm

I've bought recently Dried Kashmiri Chillies (dark maroone in colour) from Spices of India, 200g (Brand Fudco) for (I think £3.95)

But, a friend of mine whilst visiting friends in Delhi bought me a pack of Kashmiri Chillies, slightly darker in colour from tel: 022 241 144245

Hope this helps somebody,


Gilly Boy, on 20/4/2013 06:33am

The reason why Kashmiri chile is sometimes called degchi chile is because the powder is used in this manner.

When you make your curry you will usually add half of a tsp. of hot/mild chile powder with the other spices. After the curry is made you put half of cup or less of oil in a soup ladle over the fire to almost simmer, take the ladle off and wait for 15 seconds then add a heaped tsp. of kashmiri chile into the oil, stir and spread over the curry. This gives the curry a rich and red appearance.

Mamta, on 20/4/2013 07:26am

Thanks for this Gilly Boy. This method is called 'tarka' or tempering. It is most commonly used for all sorts of dals, but can also be used for other dishes. It imparts a slightly smoky flavour to the dish and makes it look nice too. It is best done in a cast iron ladle, if you are looking for an authentic flavour.

swas, on 13/10/2013 04:38pm

How much Kashmiri chilli pwdr shd I use if not making a paste of chillies if required for a recipe?

Mamta, on 13/10/2013 07:20pm

I am not sure what you mean by paste of chilli. Generally, amount of chilli will depend upon what you are cooking, how much amount you are cooking, what you are cooking and how hot or mild you like it.

Helen Bach, on 25/8/2015 02:44pm

seems to make sense, although a sorry situation, really. It suggests the customer doesn't know what they want, probably a correct assumption for the most part!

Confusion reigns in India as to what is what. Often, it is due to translation (or transliteration) and finding an English name for an Indian herb or spice.

Examples are cinnamon, from Sri Lanka, often substituted by cassia, possibly from China, even the Hindi name supports this idea, as cassia is known as dal chini, or wood from China, although China may mean anywhere outside of India. Onion seeds (kalongi) are not onion seeds, but merely look like them. Fennel seed was once called lovage, caraway called black cumin seed, in fact, nearly every spice has been confused with something else at some time, and many problems still exist. Bay leaves don't exist in India, but those used in cooking are leaves from cassia trees, a very different flavour!

It would be nice to see spice packets name the region in which the spice was grown, just as vegetables are supposed to be labelled with the country of origin in the UK.

Getting back to Kashmiri chillies, it is possible that the Kashmiri chilli is a cross breed, with parents of sanam and reshampati, both derived from S. American chillies, originally. Neither the sanam or reshampati are particularly red, as far as I can see.

Mamta, on 25/8/2015 08:26pm

This is true for many things, but not all. The difficulty with names has never stopped Indian from using correct spices, because they buy spices using their correct Indian names, not English names. Chillies are not very often known by their names in India, only by their heat; mild, moderate or hot, sometimes even extra hot.

Helen Bach, on 25/8/2015 09:38pm

Surely, Mamta, the difficulty comes when Indian recipes are translated (etc) into English, especially if there is not an equivalent English word or a particular spice is not readily available in the UK/Europe/America.

Bay leaf is a perfect example. In India, the tej patta is used, leaves from various cassia trees. There is no such tree in the UK, so someone looked at the tej patta and thought it looked like a bay leaf, so called it an 'Indian bay leaf', not only wrong, but misleading and the wrong flavour. A substitute for tej patta would be a piece of cassia bark, whereas a substitute for bay would be cardamom, if we are going on flavour.

If we are to use substitutes, then we must compromise, although the world is getting smaller. However, I have noticed that using the proper ingredients (in India) has made a better tasting dish compared with 'nearest equivalents' in the UK.

It's a shame that fresh chillies are so hot, as some of them have a wonderful flavour, detectable just before the 'chilli bite'.

Mamta, on 27/8/2015 01:22pm

Sorry for not responding to you earlier Helen, it has been very hectic around here!

Yes, it is indeed true that many recipes, and many other things for that matter, loose their true meaning in incorrect translation. I find this most commonly with dal names.

What you say about tej-patta is true of course, it is definitely different from bay laurel that we grow here in UK (I have a small tree in my garden). You only have to look at the leaf pattern to know that. Personally, I don’t think that tej-patta makes a whole lot of difference to flavours, because what we buy as bay leaves from Indian stores here, or even in India, are very dry, almost odourless leaves. I do dry and use some bay laurel leaves (dry are better than fresh) here in UK and use them now and then, more for their look to be honest, rather than any noticeable flavour/aroma.

“It's a shame that fresh chillies are so hot, as some of them have a wonderful flavour, detectable just before the 'chilli bite'. “

They do indeed have a nice flavour, well sort of. The trick is to a take a very small bite at a time from the whole chilli with a few mouthfuls of food in between, not with every mouthful as some people do and then regret. I always say that to start with; do not add it chopped up to your salad/soup/curries/bhajies/anything. Keep it on your plate and take a tiny bite now and then.

All fresh chillies are not very hot. Generally speaking, smaller chillies that are more tightly packed with seeds are hotter. We Indians are so used to buying chillies without any names and any definite idea of their heat, that it never causes any problems. We can generally tell which chillies are hot by looking at them.

MeganfromAustral, on 25/10/2015 01:24am

Hello :-) I'm really happy to find this site. I was so confused to read Rick Stein's Indian recipes, so many specifying "kashmiri chilli" - I've been reading and cooking indian food for over 20 years and this was a new one to me. It's great to read the explanation here that it's kashmiri chilli getting 'trendy' that it's appearing in these recipes - not that I've been missing something all of this time. I've always cooked just with whole dried red chillies, dried red chilli seeds, chilli powder, or fresh green chillies. I vary heat by varying the amount. That's as fancy as I get and it dos sound, from reading this discussion, that I'm doing the right thing. Yay!

A question on fresh green chillies - I've seen small green chillies in one of my local Indian groceries. They are just a bit longer than a Thai red bird's eye chilli. Is there any difference in using these to using the long green chillies?

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