Saturday, February 2, 2013

Thai Yellow Curry Paste


Why buy a ready-made curry paste when it's so easy to make it yourself?! I was recently asked to give a lesson on how to prepare a home-made Thai-style curry paste and yuuum (...!!!) it reminded me of how much I love Thai cuisine and it's main ingredients; fresh lemongrass, galangal root, ginger, corriander, kaffir lime leaves, spicy chilies, limes, coconut milk... so aromatic and tasteful! 
Curry is a blend of spices and is primarily used in the South and Southeast Asian cooking. The spices included vary from region to region and you can always give your own twist to it according to your mood and taste. Curry paste in particular is most often associated with Thai cuisine and there are three types of curry pastes: yellow, red, and green. Their differerence has to do with certain key ingredients. Green curry paste includes fresh corriander, kaffir lime leaves and those really spicy small green chilies, which actually makes it the hottest choice of the three. Red curry paste, also quite spicy, depending on the variety of red chilies used in it, includes a lot of chili powder as well and tastes great with seafood (especially shrimps). Yellow curry paste, which is usually the mildest one, may include yellow chilies (although I use red, as it is quite hard to get hold of the yellow ones) and turmeric.

So here is my recipe, but please feel free to experiment with your curry pastes and, why not share them with us!

Ingredients
4-7 yellow or red chilies (if you like it less spicy you may remove the seeds)
140 gr shallots (you may use red onion if you can’t get hold of shallots), cut into chunks
2 stalks lemongrass, sliced crossways and chopped
5 garlic cloves (if small, use 10)
2 ½ cm ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
1 thick slice galangal root, peeled
½ teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons curry
1 tablespoon grounded cumin
1 tablespoon grounded coriander
½ teaspoon grounded cinnamon
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice

If you are using dried chilies, soak them in 5 tablespoons water for 1-2 hours and preserve the water as you will need it for the curry paste (the fresh ones don't need soaking!).
In a food processor (alternatively you may use a mortar and pestle) add the first 4 ingredients listed with half the chili water and process really well (if later on your curry paste turns out dry you may add the rest of the chili water, so put it aside). Add the ginger and galangal and process again. Now add all the spices and process once more until it forms a thick paste. Last, add the sugar (if using), fish sauce and lime juice and blend well for another couple of minutes. If too dry add the chili water or a couple of tablespoons chicken stock. Curry pastes last long both in the fridge and freezer, so you can make quite a lot of it a store it for later use.




















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