Base Asian Curry Paste

Let me start by saying this is my staple survival curry paste. I try to make it monthly and it makes enough paste for four or five curries in the month. It is Asian based, more Thai, and its is incredibly light and adaptable In the tips section I will explain how to modify it for some dishes however at its simplest with vegetables it will change your mind about vegetarian dishes.

Before we begin lets talk about your food processor. Seriously you could make this in a giant mortar and pestle but for simple convenience I choose the machine. The thing to know here is that if you have a food processor where the mixture constantly slides up the side of the bowl then you are in for a long ride on this one. 🙂 I have had 3 different processors in my life and my latest pro level Cuisinart breaks the record for me. I can make this paste now with only one or two stops for a scrape down of the bowl.


  • 2 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp of coriander seeds
  • 10 black pepper corns
  • 10 long red chilli’s and de-seed them if you don’t like it too hot, chopped roughly
  • 5 shallots, I am talking about the small French style onions here if you cant get them go for baby salad onions
  • 2 decent sized garlic cloves crushed with a blade
  • A bit of fresh ginger about 4cm long, don’t peel it just wash it well
  • 6 stalks of lemon grass, when you buy them look for the stalks with fresh tips on top, the dryer those top tips are the older it is and you use the white base and up to the woody green section
  • 12 kafir lime leaves. Now these can be a little hard to get, a lot of large supermarkets are carrying them but take a ride to your local Thai supermarket and while there get some thai basil to finish your curry
  • A pinch of fresh ground cinnamon
  • A splash of chilli oil this helps to loosen it up
  • 1 tbsp of palm sugar or dark brown sugar
  • A pinch of salt

The Process

  • Place all of the ingredients except the pepper corns, coriander and cumin seeds into the food processor
  • Put the peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds into a dry small fry pan and dry fry them until they become fragrant. Remember to keep them moving all the time or they burn.
  • Toss the seeds and pepper into a mortar and pestle and ground them down to a fine mix and then add them to the other ingredients.
  • Process all the ingredients in the food processor. You will need to watch it and as I mentioned you may need to keep stopping it and wiping down the side of the bowl.
  • Process until you get a fairly smooth paste, this can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.


Once the paste mix is done I like to put it into several Tupperware containers or small jars. By keeping it in separate jars you can leave it sealed and only open a small amount at a time. After you put the paste into the jar drizzle a little bit of vegetable oil on top to seal it, put the lid on and straight in to the fridge.

I keep mine in the fridge for about 3 weeks, that is as long as it ever lasts in our place it tastes to good not to use it.

Basic Use

Over the next week or so I will post some of my favourite recipes that use this base paste. But in its simplest here is a basic guide on how to use it and adapt it:

  • Vegetables; mix 100ml of vegetable stock with 400ml of coconut milk. Fry about 2 large tablespoons of paste in vegetable oil, add the liquid and simmer for 5 minutes, toss in vegetables of your choice and low simmer until just cooked. Mixed beans are brilliant with this.
  • Chicken; mix 100ml of chicken stock and 400ml coconut milk. Fry 3 heaped tablespoons of paste add the liquid, some sliced capsicum and chopped chicken pieces and simmer until cooked.
  • Marinade; it works incredibly well as a marinade for vegetable skewers, chicken and pork. Simply mix paste with a little bit of vegetable oil and marinade accordingly.

Give it a try and I will put money down that you will never buy a jar of curry paste ever again. Its simple, incredibly economical and it tastes sensational.

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