‘Treat Yourself’ Thai Curry Paste

Curry. It’s a winner in my book. There’s nothing quite like coming in from the cold in the autumn and knowing that a steaming bowl of something spicy is waiting for you to warm your cockles. Or if you’re a student like me and the thermal, two jumpers, dressing gown, hot water bottle and four pairs of socks just aren’t cutting their way through the cold, a curry is the perfect way to thaw that frozen nose. 

I love it because it’s versatile, a crowd pleaser and actually, despite popular belief, really easy to make from scratch. If you’ve got some onions, garlic, chilli, ginger and a few simple spices, you can whip up a tasty dinner which is just as good as leftovers as it is fresh, so it’s really freezer friendly. Tomatoey, creamy, coconuty, aromatic, spicy, mild…your options are endless. 

This week, i’ve got a recipe for a Thai Green Curry Paste for you. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Why, if I can buy a perfectly good one in a jar, would I bother making my own? I hear you, I hear you. But just take my word for it. The smell when you whip up a paste from scratch makes you feel worthy of a Michelin star. And sitting down at the end of the day hugging a bowl of fresh, aromatic curry that you made alllllll by yourself, is definitely worth that extra bit of time and effort (and it really is just a little bit).

Ingredients for the paste *

  • 3 chillies (Since this is a Thai Green curry, it’s best to use green chillis, but use what you have in your cupboards. I used red because that’s what I had)
  • 2 Shallots
  • Thumb size piece of fresh ginger
  • Handful of fresh coriander
  • 2 lemongrass stalks (make sure you peel off the slightly woodier outside layer)
  • Limes – zest of 2, juice of 1
  • Heaped teaspoon of ground coriander
  • Teaspoon cumin
  • A good shake of soy sauce
  • Glug of olive oil

This is a simplified version of the traditional recipe which normally calls for ingredients that you’d need to search for further afield, such as lime leaves, shrimp paste and galangal, which isn’t ideal for a curry in a hurry. For this recipe, most of the ingredients will either be in your cupboard or in your local supermarket, perhaps except for lemongrass. Thankfully it’s getting easier to source nowadays but if you can’t find it, I often substitute it for the zest of a lemon. The taste of lemongrass is slightly gentler and obviously more authentic, but lemon works just as well.

You can also be quite flexible with the measurements. This is a rough guide, but you can adjust it to suit your tastebuds. If you like it super spicy, add more chilli. Garlic fiend? Amp it up. And for all the enemies of coriander…you know where the door is. Just kidding – depending on the potency of your aversion, either include it anyway (this curry has a lot of strong flavours so the coriander isn’t overpowering) or leave it out and see how it goes.

Now, for the composition you have a few choices. You can make it super speedy by bunging it all in a blender. I’ve recently treated myself to a high speed blender and it’s safe to say I am slightly smitten. I’ve been whizzing here, whizzing there, busy whizzing everywhere. But don’t worry if you don’t have one; either go all authentic and use a pestle and mortar, or grate the onion and ginger, crush the garlic and finely chop the chillis and fresh coriander before combining with the other ingredients. It’ll be more time consuming and laborious, but the result will be equally as pleasing. 

To make your work of art into a yummy scrummy veg curry that serves 4, fry off your choice of veggies – mushrooms, mangetout, and peppers work really well – until they are slightly softened and gently coloured, before spooning the paste into the pan. Fry off the paste for thirty seconds or so until the aromas whack you in the face and then add 800ml of coconut milk. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened and ready to go. It’s beautiful over rice or rice noodles.

And that’s shallot (hehe). It’s the perfect ‘treat yourself’ recipe when the treating isn’t such a task. So raid your cupboards and give this a go, you won’t regret it.

* This paste can be made in advance and frozen, as can the curry once it’s been made.

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