5 Excellent Substitutes for Sambar Powder

If you’re trying out an Indian dish but can’t get a hold of any sambar powder, what can you use instead?

Rasam powder, madras curry powder, vindaloo curry powder, and chaat masala are all great options to use as substitutes for sambar powder.

Since sambar powder can sometimes be hard to find in the west, it’s great to know which spices you can use as an alternative to sambar powder in case you have a hard time finding it.

There are many delicious spice blends out there to try in your dishes, but which ones would be best suited to use in a replacement to sambar powder? There are multiple options you can choose from to help you create a great tasting dish!

What is sambar powder?

Sambar powder is a very popular south Indian mixture of spices that forms a powdery substance. It is made by grinding up a number of different spices such as coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon, coconut, and others like this.

What do you use it for?

Sambar powder can be used in many different ways. It’s great to use in stir-fries, to season vegetables, to marinate meats and poultry, and to season lentil dishes.

You can use sambar powder in any recipe that calls for curry powder. 

What can you use instead?

  1. Rasam powder

Rasam powder is a great substitute for sambar powder. While the mix of spices varies a bit, this is a good replacement for sambar powder because they often share a lot of the same ingredients used to make up this spice mixture. 

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Some ingredients that are commonly used are

  • Coriander
  • Pepper
  • Jeera
  • Red Chiles

You can use rasam powder in a 1:1 ratio with sambar powder to create a great substitution.

  1. Madras curry powder

Madras curry powder is another popular mixture of spices that is very similar to sambar powder. This can be used as an alternative to sambar powder because it also shares a lot of the main ingredients included in the making of sambar powder. 

Some of the common ingredients are

Generally, it’s good to use about ¼ teaspoon of madras curry powder for every 1 teaspoon of sambar powder that your recipe calls for.

Madras curry powder can be a little spicier than sambar powder, so keep this in mind when using it in your dishes. If you’re a fan of some heat in your food, this is a great option for you!

  1. Vindaloo curry powder

Another alternative to sambar powder is vindaloo curry powder. It is also an Indian mixture of spices.

Common ingredients found in vindaloo curry powder are 

  • Red chiles
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Curry leaves

This spice blend is spicier than sambar powder and has a bold flavor. Since it is a bit hotter in taste than sambar powder, it’s recommended to use small amounts at first and then gradually add in more to avoid making your dish too hot. Season to taste with this spice blend for a tasty alternative.

  1. Chaat masala

Chaat masala is another substitute you can use in place of sambar powder. This Indian spice blend is another one that shares many of the same ingredients as sambar powder. Some of the ingredients included in this blend are 

  • Amchoor
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Black pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Salt
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Chaat masala has a tangy and spicy flavor that is very strong and tasty. You can use this spice blend in a 1:1 ratio for sambar powder.

  1. At home spice mixture

If you don’t have time to grab any of these great options or want to try making a quick and easy replacement for sambar powder yourself, try this substitution. 

By mixing together cumin, and coriander in a 1:1 ratio, adding in a small amount of red chili pepper or cayenne pepper, and adding a very small amount of turmeric, this would be a quick and close replacement for sambar powder in a pinch.


If you’re trying to branch out and try some new dishes or even making a favorite staple in your recipe book, sambar powder is a great ingredient used in many Indian dishes. However, since it can occasionally be difficult to locate this spice blend, it’s helpful to know which spices you can use as a replacement!

Try a few different suggestions out and see which suits your dishes the best!