Kashmiri chili powder is a seasoning that is made from a variety of red chili from Kashmir, a region in India. In this post you'll learn all about the powder; how you can make it, buy it, and use it; and how it compares to other chilis sold at grocery stores.
Why I use Kashmiri chili powder in my recipes
You'll find that most of the recipes on this blog use Kashmiri chili powder (KCP). I love this chili powder are for the following reasons:
- Spice control - This chili is milder than its counterparts like cayenne which means that you can really control and layer in spice as you make a dish.
- Vibrant color - Kashmiri chili has a distinctive red hue which makes it great for grilling meats and dying curries a vibrant red color.
- Complex citrusy and slightly smoky flavor - This chili isn't just one note but is so complex in its flavor which adds depth to dishes.
- Versatile chili powder when limited on pantry space - I admittedly have a lot of spices from all my cooking projects and space in my pantry is a precious commodity. So Kashmiri chili powder is my go to chili powder stocked on my shelf.
Kashmiri chili powder vs. deggi mirch
Kashmiri chili powder and deggi mirch are both bright red powders found in Indian grocery stores. However, the difference is that deggi mirch is a spice blend that is a combo of dried red bell pepper along with Kashmiri chili power. Deggi mirch tends to be the paprika of Indian cuisine and is milder than Kashmiri chili powder. These two powders are great substitutes for each other!
Kashmiri chili powder vs. cayenne vs. paprika
Now let's compare some popular American chili powders to Kashmiri chili powder:
- Spice level (Mild -> Hot): Paprika, Kashmiri Chili Powder, Cayenne. Kashmiri chili powder sits in the middle when it comes to spice level with paprika being milder and cayenne being spicier. Paprika can range from regular, sweet, and smoky so it also has a varied range of spiciness depending on the variety you purchase.
- Flavor: Cayenne is a fiery heat, paprika is a varied heat from sweet to smoky, and Kashmiri chili is balanced with heat and slight smokiness.
- Color: Both paprika and Kashmiri chili powder are red whereas cayenne has an orange hue.
- Consistency: Both paprika and Kashmiri chili powder tend to be finer coarseness whereas cayenne tends to be coarser in texture.
Making Kashmiri chili powder from dried whole chilis
Here's an easy way to make Kashmiri chili powder or really any chili powder:
- Remove the stems from the dried whole chilis.
- Dry roast the chilis. On a medium pan on medium heat, dry roast the chilis for 2-3 minutes until they start releasing a slight bit of oil and they become fragrant. Make sure to constantly stir to ensure that the chilis don't burn.
- Allow chilis to cool and remove seeds and membranes from the chilis. Remove the stems, seeds, and membranes from the dried, whole chilis.
- Use a spice grinder to blitz the chilis into a fine powder.
- Allow the powder to cool before storing away in an airtight container.
Where to buy Kashmiri chili powder
I haven't seen Kashmiri chili powder at American grocery stores but if you have a local Indian grocery store near you I highly recommend going there and supporting them. Otherwise, here are my recommendations for Kashmiri chili powder brands that you can purchase online:
- Diaspora Co's Kashmiri Chili Powder ($12) - Freshest and most ethically sourced chili powder. Diaspora Co has single-origin spices that they sell online. It is a bit on the pricier side because the spices haven't been sitting on the shelf for ages so the price is worth the flavor it brings to the table!
- Laxmi Kashmiri Chili Powder - The brand I buy at Indian grocery stores.
Substitutes for Kashmiri chili powder
If you don't have Kashmiri chili powder, don't worry! It is okay to substitute your favorite chili powder instead. Deggi mirch is the closest substitute to Kashmiri chili powder since it is just a combo of Kashmiri chili powder and dried red bell pepper powder. You can alternatively use hot paprika in a 1:1 ratio. If you are using cayenne or a generic chili powder, reduce the amount called in the recipe by ½.
Recipes that use Kashmiri chili powder
Most of the recipes on the blog that call for chili powder call for Kashmiri chili powder. However, here are some great ones that really highlight the chili!
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