Thai red curry paste with dry chillies

This authentic Thai red curry paste is famous for its use in the Thai red curry. This Thai red curry paste can be used in curry or in starters. You can add any vegetable, fish, chicken and beef to make red curry with this red curry paste. You can make starters like fish cakes or crab cakes. A famous curry is made with this red paste called Duck curry in Thailand. Traditionally a heavy stone pestle and mortar is used and fresh ingredients are used to give that fresh and aromatic flavour to the paste.

The main basic ingredients are shallots, galangal, garlic, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, shrimp paste and fresh or dry birds eye red chillies. I have used both fresh and dry for the red paste. Apart from these ingredients you can add other ingredients to flavour red curry paste like coriander seeds, cumin seeds and white pepper powder. I have added fresh turmeric also for the colour and taste, which is optional.

From the basic ingredients of red curry paste, massaman and panang curry paste are also prepared.

Now a days you get all the ingredients in big supermarkets or alternatively can replace few ingredients if not available like instead of lime leaves can use lime rind (grated green part). Instead of coriander root you can use coriander stems (stalks), instead of galangal you can use ginger, instead of white pepper powder you can use black peppercorns.

Lemon grass and lime leaves has a very lemony flavour and gives a different taste.

Shrimp paste (kapi in Thailand) plays a vital role in Thai cuisine and so is nam phrik a spicy sauce or dip. It is very important in green curry paste. Some add fish sauce also while preparing the paste but I have not added fish sauce to this paste.

I have made this red curry paste from scratch in a pestle and mortar, first crush dry ingredients then add herbs, add the ingredients one by one, crush it to a paste. Alternatively you can use food processor, which does all your hard work. Or first crush all the ingredients and then add to the food processor for a fine paste. The red curry paste can be stored in fridge for 1 week and can be frozen for more than a month.

For red curry paste, you need to use Thai chillies (birds eye chillies, very hot and small in size) but sometimes I have used long red ordinary chillies which I get in India. I have used coriander stems instead of coriander roots and I got crushed frozen kaffir lime leaves from the store instead of fresh. This time I have used dry thai red chillies (birds eye chilli) and fresh turmeric for my red curry paste.

My red curry paste is not as reddish as we get in the shops, it has very light colour if you want reddish colour add few Kashmir chillies or ordinary chillies for colour. I have used the ingredients according to my taste buds.

Ingredients

  • Dry chillies (birds eye chillies) – 24
  • Fresh red chillies (optional) – 4
  • Kaffir Lime leaves – 2 to 3 tsp
  • Lemon grass – 3
  • Shrimp paste (kapi) – 1/2 tsp
  • Shallots – 5
  • Coriander root – 2 1/2 tbsp
  • Fresh turmeric (optional) – 1/2 inch
  • Galangal – 1 inch
  • Garlic cloves – 3 to 4
  • White pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Roast dry spices

  • Coriander seeds – 3tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1tsp

Method

  • Chop all the ingredients and transfer it to a plate.
  • Roast coriander seeds and cumin seeds on a pan until aroma comes.
  • Pound dry ingredients first and keep it aside.
  • Pound galangal first, then garlic, then lemon grass, green chillies, shallots to a paste with remaining ingredients then add roasted powder and pound well. At last add shrimp paste (kapi), continue pounding until you get to a smooth paste.
  • Transfer it to a bowl and refrigerate for 1 week or you can freeze it for more than a month.

Notes

  • The outer skin of the lemongrass can be used to make stocks and soups and also to give extra flavour to the curries. After peeling the skin, the inner portion of the lemongrass can be used chopped or cut.
  • I have not added salt in the paste, you can add in it but need to be careful when making curry.
  • You can grind to a smooth paste by adding little water. You can grind in a mixer or food processor to make your work easy.

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