Kashmiri chilis are used fresh or in powdered, dried, or ground form giving dishes an eye-catching and bright appeal. They are typically used in stews, soups, marinades, sauces, curries, and specialty dishes, such as Tandoori Chicken and Rogan Josh.
While it’s hard to replicate the authentic taste and appearance of Kashmiri powder, you can use substitutes to at least get close to its fruity and tangy flavor.
Among the best Kashmiri chili powder substitutes include the following:
- Smoky paprika and cayenne pepper spice blend
- Byadgi chili
- Guajillo chilies
- Deggi mirch
- Whole dried Kashmiri chili
- Regular paprika and cayenne spice blend
- Red chili powder
- Smoked salt plus red chili powder
- Hot sauces
Kashmiri chili is a staple in Indian cuisine, but not mainly for the spiciness. It can only provide mild to moderate levels of spice to your food. More than the flavor, it is commonly used for its vibrant red color.
Aside from the color, Kashmiri chili powder gives off a zingy aroma and makes dishes more delicious. Its spiciness level is rated on the Scoville Scale at 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).
Keep reading to find out how these substitutes can compensate for the taste and aesthetics of Kashmiri chili powder in your dishes.
16 Best Substitute For Kashmiri Chili Powder
Smoked paprika and cayenne pepper spice blend
The blend can give off mild heat comparable to Kashmiri powder to your dishes. To prepare, mix a 3:1 ratio of the seasonings. For example, if you use 3/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika, you have to add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne.
The blend will provide a similar note to the Kashmiri chili powder, but not the same bright red tone. If you only have regular paprika, you can still use it in the same amount but add a little liquid smoke to the dish to fill in the lacking flavor.
This spice is widely used in India, and it originates from Karnataka. It has a similar color to Kashmiri chili powder, but it emits a hot fiery taste way beyond Kashmiri’s level of spiciness.
You can adjust the amount you use, depending on your preference, but typically, you can substitute a teaspoon of Kashmiri with 1/4 teaspoon of Byadgi.
They are one of the most widely used chilies in Mexican dishes. They provide a reddish or brownish hue and are known for their leathery skin. They come from dried mirasol chilies with an SHU of 2000 to 5000.
This means that this is spicier than Kashmiri but not that hot to overpower the dish. You can use half a teaspoon of guajillo chili powder for each teaspoon of Kashmiri.
However, you can use the fresh chilies instead of the powdered form if you don’t have them. To make the spice blend closer to Kashmiri, use a tablespoon of paprika, a teaspoon of black tea, and four guajillo chilies to your dish.
This popular chili powder is made by combining red bell peppers and Kashmiri chili powder. Kashmiri gives off a smoky and spicy taste, while bell pepper adds hints of sweetness to the spice blend.
Use the 1:1 ratio in using deggi mirch instead of Kashmiri chili powder.
Whole dried Kashmiri chili
You can use the whole dried chilies if you can’t get the powdered form. This is the closest you’ll get to the real thing since the Kashmiri chili powder is made from dried Kashmiri chilies. They are often used when tempering tadka or oil.
You can use one dried chili for every half a teaspoon of Kashmiri chili powder that the recipe requires.
Regular paprika and cayenne spice blend
Combine a 3:1 ratio of the paprika with cayenne spice. The blend will provide the same level of spiciness, but without any smoky hint.
Red chili powder
You will find a lot of Indian chili powders when looking for the perfect substitute for Kashmiri chili powder. One of the most frequently used is the Indian lal mirch or regular hot chili powder.
Gradually add the substitute to your dish to get your desired level of spiciness without going overboard. It is recommended to begin by substituting a teaspoon of Kashmiri chili powder with 1/4 teaspoon of the alternative chili powder.
Smoked salt plus red chili powder
If a recipe calls for Kashmiri chili powder, but you don’t have one, you can add smoked salt to your dish and season with any chili powder. Adjust the amount of the chili powder according to the type you used and its level of heat.
If it’s only the spiciness you are after, you can grab any hot sauce available in your kitchen. You can check each item’s SHU and choose the one closest to Kashmiri chili powder. If not, you can adjust the amount, whether you will add less or more than the required Kashmiri powder in the recipe.
Soaked red chilies
Soaking the chilies will produce the same vibrant color as the Kashmiri chili powder. Choose the kind of chili that is moderately hot, slice, and remove the seeds before soaking in cold water for 30 minutes.
Once done, grind the soaked chilies until they turn into a paste. You can opt to add salt and oil to the paste to expand its shelf life.
If you want the paste to be thinner, you can fry it until the water is reduced. This will help in extending its shelf life as well.
You can use the paste, the freshly made one of the fried variety, as a substitute for Kashmiri chili powder.
Red food coloring
This is a good option for those who don’t like the taste or are allergic to chilies. You can use a red food color instead of chili powder in many North Indian curries, including Pav Bhaji.
Red food coloring is inexpensive and easy to find. It will give you the red hue you are after but without flavor.
Always start with a few drops in using the food coloring. You can always add more as you notice the changes in the color of the dish.
Since food color does not add to the dish’s flavor, you can use other spices to complement whatever’s lacking in its taste.
Rogan is widely used in many Indian curries in restaurants since it adds taste and color to the recipes. It is the oil layer that separates from the gravy.
When using as a Kashmiri chili powder substitute, you can prepare your own Rogan by using any red chili powder. Choose the type that will add color to the dish, and it is best not to add hot chili powder to your options. You are only aiming for mild spice.
Heat a Kadai or tadka pan and add oil. Once the oil is heated, remove the pan from the stove. Wait until the oil has cooled down a bit before adding the chili powder. Stir at once.
Make sure that the oil has cooled down a bit before adding the chili powder. If not, the powder may turn black or brown as it gets burnt fast.
Transfer the reddish oil to an airtight container and keep it at room temperature until ready to use.
Beetroot can give off similar hues as what the Kashmiri chili powder can provide. You can either boil it separately from the dish or use it directly.
However, always remember to use beetroot sparingly. It has a bit of an earthy flavor that might not go well with the other ingredients in your dish. So add it gradually until you have the right color.
Beetroots are commonly used in enhancing the color of the Indian dish Pav Bhaji. It is also a popular ingredient used in making red gravy.
Ancho chili powder
This chili powder is made from ground dried poblano peppers and has a comparable heat as the Kashmiri chili with 1500 to 2000 SHU. It is popularly used in many Mexican dishes.
Ancho chili powder provides mild heat similar to Kashmiri. It also has a hint of smokiness and tastes slightly sweet.
However, the main difference lies in color. This will not provide the red color as the Kashmiri.
This spice is widely used in Korean dishes. It is made from coarsely ground red chili powder. It provides a similar pretty red hue as Kashmiri with almost the same levels of sweet notes and smoky flavor.
Gochugaru is commonly used in making pickled veggies, braised meats, soups, and kimchi. It is best to add it gradually to the dish in making the substitution. It’s spicier than Kashmiri, so you can adjust the spiciness according to your preference.
Homemade Kashmiri chili powder
To begin making your homemade Kashmiri chili powder, you will need slightly over half a pound of Kashmiri chilis and the same amount of red chili peppers.
- Wash them all and remove the stems. Cut the ingredients and arrange them on baking sheets lined with foil.
- Bake for half an hour at 250 degrees.
- Put in a dehydrator for one hour and 30 minutes.
- Transfer to a rack and leave until completely cool.
- Once cooled, transfer them to a blender or a food processor. Process until they turn into a fine powder.
- Place the powder in an airtight container and keep it at room temperature.
It will last for up to six months. You can also refrigerate half of the powder to make it last longer.
If you prefer a spicier blend, you can add more of the cayenne chili peppers than the Kashmiri chilis into the mix.
If you don’t have time to bake and dehydrate the ingredients, you can roast them until crisp in a deep round pan. Leave them until completely cool before processing in a blender until powdered before storing in a jar.
Some people skip cooking altogether and leave them in the sun for three to four days or until completely dried and crisp. They are then blended in a food processor until powdered.