Colombo Powder Seasoning

Colombo powder in a measuring cup
Michelle Arnold/EyeEm/Getty Images
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Total: 13 mins

This spice mixture is similar to curry powder. However, Colombo powder contains roasted uncooked rice, which gives the powder a nutty taste, and also acts as a natural thickener when cooking, which makes this seasoning great for soups and stews. Use Colombo powder in any recipe that you would use curry powder to spice up meats, poultry, or vegetables.

Colombo powder is consumed mostly in the French West Indies (Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin and Saint Barthélemy (St. Barts) and the smaller islands of Les Saintes, Marie-Galante, and La Désirade. However, since its origins are Indian, it’s also an ingredient in Jamaican and Trinidadian recipes. The spice mixture is also called poudre de Colombo or West Indian curry powder.

This recipe calls for mostly bulk, whole spices: spices contain essential oils, which dissipate faster once ground; whole spices have a longer shelf life and a stronger essence. Also, several of the same spices are used in curry powder and garam masala, so you can make some of that, too. However, you can use pre-ground spices.


  • 1/4 cup rice (uncooked, white)
  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds (yellow or brown will do)
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/4 cup turmeric

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Toast the rice over medium heat in a dry skillet until lightly golden. Shake the pan often to prevent burning. This will take about 5 minutes. Transfer the rice to a plate or platter to cool.

  3. Place the remaining spices, except the turmeric, into the skillet and cook over medium heat until fragrant and toasty. Shake the pan often to prevent burning. This will take about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a plate or platter to cool.

  4. Place the cooled rice and spices into a spice mill, blender, or food processor. Grind into a fine powder. Place the powder in a bowl and thoroughly stir in the turmeric.

  5. Store the seasoning in an airtight jar, container, or sealed baggie. Be sure to label it and record the date you made it. The powder will keep for several months.

  6. Enjoy!

About Colombo Powder

  • Traditionally, Colombo powder contains black mustard seeds, which are hotter than yellow or brown mustard seeds. But, use what is available to you, as it doesn't make much of a difference.
  • Look for whole spices in specialized markets, gourmet shops, natural food shops, and online.
  • You can use Colombo powder in place of curry powder and garam masala.