Both are blends of many spices, but they are used differently. Dry curry powder cannot be fried in hot oil because it burns and turns acrid, so it must be added to foods that are already simmering in liquid.
For fried dishes it is best to use a curry paste. A large variety of good quality Indian curry pastes, with regional flavors, is available in leading supermarkets. Experiment with them in casseroles and soups and decide which you prefer.
Southeast Asian curries, which derive mainly from southern India, will often have fresh ingredients such as lemon grass, sweet basil, galangal (an aromatic root of the ginger family) and garlic added to the ground spices. For example, red and green curry pastes, using fresh chillies with other ingredients, are a central feature of many popular Thai dishes.