This is a recipe for an authentic Yellow Curry Paste, learned while staying in Thailand. It makes enough for about 6-8 curries, depending on how much paste you like to use in your curries. More paste = spicier flavor! One you have mastered this easy paste, I guarantee that you will never go back to using a store-bought paste!
Most of the ingredients are readily available nowadays from a major supermarket. Having access to a local Asian market will likely make finding items easier, and for anything you are unable to find locally, a quick search on amazon will find you everything you need. I have a full blog post here that talks about all the ingredients you will need to make not only this yellow paste, but also a red, penang and a green paste too.
Once you have the paste made, a full Thai curry will come together in under 20 minutes. It’s therefore an excellent staple to keep in your fridge, so that making a gorgeous restaurant-worthy curry midweek will be a breeze! To make mixing the paste easier, I recommend making double the quantity.
To make this paste, start by roasting the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry frying pan, just until you start to smell their aromas. Be careful not to toast past that – otherwise they can burn and will end up tasting bitter. Pop them into a spice/coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder. Grind the peppercorns next. Soak the dried chilies for about 20 minutes in some warm water. Once they have softened, drain and chop them roughly. Use the seeds or not – it’s up to you. Adding the seeds will make the pastes much hotter. This particular paste does not use fresh chiles – just the dried chiles. Now chop the lemongrass, shallots, garlic, galangal and ginger. Zest the lime. If using fresh turmeric, peel and chop. I find using a microplane easiest for both the lime and the turmeric.
Starting with the dried chiles, layer all the ingredients into a small blender. Add the shrimp/beancurd paste/salt last. Blend until everything is extremely fine. If you use a Vitamix, use the tamper to continually push the paste towards the blades. You can add a tablespoon or two of cold water if needed, to help the paste come together.
- 6 large dried red chilies
- 2 t whole coriander seeds
- 1 t whole cumin seeds
- 3 T chopped lemongrass
- 2 T chopped turmeric root(sub: 1 t curry powder and 1 t ground turmeric)
- 2 T chopped shallots
- 2 T chopped garlic
- 1 T chopped galangal
- 1 T chopped ginger or coriander root
- 2 t chopped kaffir lime peel (or sub 1 t regular lime peel)
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 1 t shrimp paste or salt (can also sub with )
- Stem and seed dried chilies. Soak in warm water for 15 mins, drain and roughly chop.
- Dry-roast the coriander and cumin seeds, then grind to a fine powder.
- Grind the peppercorns.
- Peel and roughly chop the ginger and galangal.
- Chop the lemongrass.
- Peel and chop the fresh turmeric root, if using.
- To the food processor, add the dried and fresh chilies, ginger, shallots and garlic.
- Process until fine.
- Add the coriander and cumin seeds, as well as the turmeric, galangal and ginger.
- Process once more, scraping down the sides as necessary.
- Lastly, add the kaffir lime peel, pepper and shrimp.
- Process until the paste is smooth.
If you are unable to find galangal, add and extra teaspoon of ginger.
Fresh turmeric root is really what gives this paste the fantastic yellow color. If you cannot source fresh root, then the curry and turmeric powders are a good substitute, but you may not quite achieve the same color.
Be careful when roasting the spices that they don't burn - this will leave you with a bitter-tasting paste.