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The 5 Best Substitutes for Tomatoes in Curry

Tomatoes are a versatile and essential ingredient in many dishes, including curries, where they add a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness.

Their tangy flavor and juicy texture contribute to a rich, delectable curry sauce, making it a favorite in many cuisines around the world.

But what if you’re out of tomatoes, have an allergy, or simply want to try something different in your curry?

What are the best substitutes for tomatoes in curry? The best substitutes for tomatoes in curry include canned tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, tamarind paste, and yogurt, depending on the desired consistency and flavor profile of your dish. Each of these substitutes can help you achieve a delicious curry without the need for fresh tomatoes.

Fear not, as your curry can still taste mouthwatering and satisfying with these alternatives.

Let’s explore these substitutes further, and find the perfect one for your curry dish!

Why Use Tomatoes in Curry?

Tomato and Garlic Chicken Curry

Tomatoes are a common ingredient in many curry recipes.

They are used in curries for a variety of reasons. Firstly, tomatoes add a sweet and tangy flavor to the curry.

They also help to thicken the sauce, giving it a richer texture. Tomatoes also provide a natural source of umami, which enhances the overall flavor of the dish.

Additionally, tomatoes are loaded with nutrients like lycopene, potassium, vitamins B and E, and other antioxidants, which can help protect cells from damage.

Some curry recipes also call for heavy cream, which is recommended as it creates a richer, more authentic sauce.

Overall, tomatoes are a versatile and nutritious ingredient that can enhance the flavor and texture of many different types of curry.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Tomatoes in Curry

Tomatoes are a key ingredient in many curries, but if you don’t have any on hand there are several suitable substitutes.

Here we look at five alternatives that will offer a similar flavor and texture:

1. Canned Tomatoes

Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are a convenient and accessible option for adding tomato flavor to your curry dishes.

These ready-to-use tomatoes provide the same depth of flavor and acidity as fresh tomatoes, making them a suitable substitute.

Available in various forms, including whole, diced, and crushed, you can easily find canned tomatoes at your local grocery store.

Using canned tomatoes in your curry not only saves time and effort but also ensures a consistent, delicious taste throughout the year, regardless of the season.

2. Tomato Paste

Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is a concentrated form of tomatoes, offering a robust flavor and a thick, smooth consistency.

Using tomato paste as an alternative to fresh tomatoes in your curry allows you to achieve the desired richness and tanginess without the need for fresh produce.

It is important to note that due to its concentrated nature, tomato paste should be used sparingly and in smaller quantities than fresh tomatoes.

Diluting the paste with water or broth can help achieve the desired consistency and intensity of flavor.

3. Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce

This smooth, seasoned sauce provides a similar taste and texture to fresh tomatoes, making it an excellent alternative for those who may not have fresh tomatoes on hand.

When using tomato sauce in your curry, simply replace the specified amount of fresh tomatoes with an equal amount of sauce.

This substitution not only ensures a rich, velvety texture but also imparts a flavorful depth to your curry.

4. Tamarind Paste

Tamarind Paste

Tamarind paste, derived from the fruit of the tamarind tree, is a tangy, sour, and slightly sweet ingredient commonly used in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine.

As a substitute for tomatoes in curry, tamarind paste adds a unique, fruity acidity that complements the dish’s spices and flavors.

To achieve the desired consistency and taste, start by adding a small amount of tamarind paste to your curry and adjust as needed.

This exotic ingredient introduces a distinctive flavor profile that sets your curry apart from traditional tomato-based versions.

5. Yogurt


Yogurt is a versatile, creamy replacement for tomatoes in curry dishes, offering a tangy, cooling effect that balances the heat of the spices.

While yogurt lacks the acidity and color of tomatoes, it provides a similar consistency and mouthfeel, making it a suitable alternative.

To use yogurt as a tomato substitute in curry, simply replace the specified amount of tomatoes with an equal amount of plain, unsweetened yogurt.

This dairy-based option adds a luscious, velvety texture to your curry while providing a delightful contrast to the dish’s bold flavors.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What can I use instead of tomatoes in curry?

There are several ingredients that can be used as a substitute for tomatoes in curry, such as tamarind, yogurt, slow-cooked onions, coconut milk, roasted red peppers, and lemon juice. Each of these ingredients provides a unique flavor and texture to the curry.

What can I use instead of crushed tomatoes in curry?

If you don’t have crushed tomatoes on hand, you can use tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, or fresh tomatoes as a substitute. Each of these ingredients will provide a slightly different texture and flavor to the curry. Tomato sauce and diced tomatoes need to be diluted, while tomato paste can be mixed directly into the curry. Fresh tomatoes can be chopped and added to the curry.

How do you compensate tomato taste in curry?

If you want to compensate for the tomato taste in curry, you can add other acidic ingredients like lemon or lime juice, tamarind paste, or vinegar. You can also use spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric to enhance the flavor of the curry. Additionally, adding more vegetables like onions, bell peppers, or potatoes can help to balance the flavors in the curry.


In conclusion, there are many substitutes for tomatoes in curry that can be easily found in your kitchen or at your local grocery store.

Whether you want to try something new or simply don’t have tomatoes on hand, these substitutes can help you create a delicious and flavorful curry. From tamarind paste to yogurt and slow-cooked onions, each of these ingredients provides a unique taste and texture to the dish.

To help you choose the best substitute for your needs, we’ve created a table summarizing the top five replacements for tomatoes in curry.

SubstituteFlavor ProfileTextureBest Used In
Tamarind pasteSweet and tangyThick and pulpySouth Indian and Thai curries
YogurtCreamy and tangySmooth and thickNorth Indian and Pakistani curries
Slow-cooked onionsSweet and savorySoft and caramelizedMughlai and Awadhi curries
Coconut milkRich and creamySmooth and velvetyThai and Sri Lankan curries
Roasted red peppersSmoky and sweetSoft and tenderMediterranean and Middle Eastern curries

By using these substitutes, you can create a delicious and unique curry that is sure to impress your friends and family.

Experiment with different combinations and find the perfect substitute for your favorite curry recipe.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Tomatoes in Curry

The 5 Best Substitutes for Tomatoes in Curry

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Tomato Paste
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Tamarind Paste
  • Yogurt


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
jenny happy muncher
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Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.