Nam prik pao

Nam prik is a spicy chilli paste in oil or chilli sauce or like chilli jam consistency which is normally eaten as a condiment or dipping sauce for fried dishes and other vegetable dishes in Thailand . It is a spicy and sweet jam consistency chilli paste in oil.

There are varieties of nam prik like nam prik pla too (chilli sauce with mackerel fish), nam prik pla raa (chilli sauce with fermented fish sauce), nam prik kaphi (chilli sauce with fermented shrimp paste), nam prik num (grilled green chilli paste) and many more are there, but the one which I know is nam prik poa (roasted red chilli paste).

Nam prik poa is a combination of spicy, salty, sour and sweet. Nam prik poa is a very tasty accompaniment which goes well with soups like tom yum goong (hot and sour prawn soup) or any tom yum soup. It is used in noodles and also in fried rice. In nam prik poa the ingredients are dry red chillies, tamarind paste or pulp, palm sugar or jaggery (gud, Indian brown sugar), fish sauce, garlic, shallots (sambar onions), dry small shrimps and shrimp paste. In India it is very difficult to get shrimp paste but you will get dry shrimps easily from the fish markets. For the vegetarians avoid fish sauce and shrimps and follow the below procedure and make. Often I have seen in the markets that the paste will be dark in colour and also lots of oil on top, even you while making this just doubles the oil, if you like. When I made the sauce I felt, it was not spicy and sour but sweet and more shrimp flavour and taste will be there, but balance was there as per me. If you want can add more onion, red chillies and tamarind. You can refrigerate in the fridge for more than 2 weeks. For me it came 2 small bottles.

With nam prik poa you can use in famous soup like tom yum goong, in stir fries, fried rice and other Thai dishes. Soon I will share some of the recipes which you can prepare with this nam prik poa.


  1. Oil – 1/4 cup
  2. Dry red chilies – 12
  3. Garlic cloves (big) – 4
  4. Shallots or sambar onions – 10
  5. Crushed chilli powder – 1 tsp
  6. Dry Tamarind – big lemon size (40 gms)
  7. Palm sugar or jaggery (gud) – 3 1/2 to 4 tbsp
  8. Dry shrimps - 2 1/2 tbsp
  9. Fish sauce – 3 tbsp


  1. Soak the dry tamarind in hot water 3/4th cup water, few minutes and squeeze it nicely in the water, to make the tamarind pulp, keep the pulp aside by removing it seeds.
  2. Wash the dry shrimps in water and soak for 15 mins and drain it and keep aside for drying.
  3. Heat the vessel with oil, when hot add whole red chillies roasted in oil, till its colour changes and you can see it becomes from a soft chilli to crisp, remove on a plate, keep it aside.
  4. Add whole shallots or onions or sliced sambar onions, sauté for few minutes until it is transparent, and then add garlic and roast in oil on medium heat, onion should be golden colour and fried well, and garlic should be slightly golden colour, switch off and keep it aside.
  5. Add all the roasted ingredients including dry shrimps in a mixer or spice blender and grind it to a coarse powder or paste. Keep it aside.
  6. Heat again oil 1/4th cup or more, add the grounded coarse paste, fish sauce, tamarind pulp, all the remaining ingredients and cook on medium temperature, for 10 minutes , you can add 1/3rd cup water, if it is very thick.
  7. Keep stirring in between, after 10 mins, simmer the flame and cook till its colour changes to dark 15 to 25min, oil has left on top.
  8. Allow it to cool and pour in the bottles and refrigerate.
  9. You can serve this with stir fry noodles or as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or rice wraps Vietnamese style, or add few table spoons in rice and prepare fried rice.


  1. If shrimp paste is available add 1tsp to 2tsp and roast in the oil with other ingredients.
  2. Instead of tamarind pulp you can use tamarind paste.
  3. Sambar onions are small shallots which are sweet in taste and is mostly used in south India. Instead of sambar onions you can use shallots or onions.
  4. While cooking the nam prik poa taste and see whether you require salt, spicier, sour and adjust as per your taste.