You'll never again buy curry paste from a jar once you've tried this simple recipe

Some things are just better when they're made from scratch—and making something with your own two hands provides such satisfaction. When you cook from scratch, you know exactly what ingredients go into your meals, and it offers you the flexibility to adjust your recipe for dietary or taste preferences.

One of the greatest things about making curry is that you can search through your vegetable crisper and throw just about anything into it. It’s easily made vegetarian or vegan, you could go the chicken route, or maybe shrimp for your protein. But, if you’ve made curry paste from scratch, instead of getting one of those little jars, you might not be able to go back. It tastes so much fresher and the fragrance is killer, and thankfully it’s easy to make. 

It might not be as great as your favorite Thai spot, but it’s going to improve your home cooking for sure. The lime leaves and lemongrassas well as the chilies, I found at T&T and at the markets on Granville Island. Some grocery stores have one thing, but not the other, so it might be a hunt, but the reward is worth it.

Christine McAvoyChristine McAvoy

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 cloves garlic 
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger (or galangal if you can find it) 
  • Large handful of cilantro (roots preferred, but stems will do) 
  • 2 small shallots 
  • 2 lemongrass stalks 
  • 8 or more Thai green chilies* 
  • 2 to 4 serrano chilies* 
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds 
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns 
  • Lime leaves (5 to 6)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Grind the cumin seeds and peppercorns until fineor use pre-ground if you must. Peel your garlic, ginger (or galangal) and shallots, and then roughly chop. 
  2. Remove the tops of the lemongrass and chop the lower parts into a few small pieces. 
  3. Place the garlic, ginger, shallots, spices, lemongrass, lime leaves and chilies (de-seed if desired), as well as a handful of cilantro root/stems into a food processor.  
    You can also chop everything finely and then make this in a large mortar and pestle if you have one (and the arm strength) instead, but it will take a long time. 
  4. Blend on high until the paste is as smooth as possible. Scrape down the sides every now and then... and you’re ready to go! (I portioned this out and froze the leftovers for future curry meals.)
  5. This is a great base for different types of curry. You can add fish sauce and shrimp paste into it. 
  6. If you’re making a green Thai curry, you can add fish sauce and shrimp paste into it. And be sure to cook the paste down in some full-fat coconut milk for a little bit first so that the flavours really come together. 

*If you can’t handle your spice, start with fewer chilies (and de-seed them) on your first go at making this paste. If you don’t find it spicy enough, add more the next time. 

Makes approximately one cup of curry paste