Homemade Vegetarian Thai Green Curry Paste

thai curry paste

After pad thai, green curry is one of Thailand's most famous contributions to world cooking. The paste from which it derives both its color and its name forms the base of a wide variety of vegetable and meat dishes in the form of stir fries, dry curries and soups. Commercial green curry pastes are easily available, but as time goes by I've more and more adopted the practice of making my own homemade pastes — just as with spice blends, the additional time spent preparing your own is rewarded with incredibly fresh, vibrant and authentic flavors and aromas that the commercial varieties can't really compete with.

And this green curry paste recipe is no exception — the aroma alone is astonishingly clear, pungent and exotic, and the taste is extraordinarily vivid. Green curry pastes are typically made with fish sauce and sometimes shrimp paste as well, so this homemade version presents another advantage to vegetarians.

Keep the 1 1/2 cups that this recipe makes in a well-sealed jar for up to a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, or freeze it in ice cube trays or a tablespoon or two at a time in small baggies — a little of this potent blend goes a long way! I'll shortly be sharing a recipe for an authentic and wonderfully flavorful green curry lentil and vegetable soup that uses only a small amount of this paste but to great effect.

Some notes on this recipe:

Feel free to adjust the quantities of individual ingredients to your preferences, and increase or reduce the number of green chilies depending on your taste and the type of chili. I used unseeded serranos in this recipe, with a fairly hot result. You can seed the chilies as well if you prefer less heat. You can also substitute 1/4 teaspoon each of ground coriander and ground cumin for the whole seeds if necessary, although I feel that toasting and grinding the seeds adds a fresher flavor.

Finally, galangal (or galanga) is a close relative of ginger and is used in the same way. Galangal has a paler and thinner pinkish skin that is peeled just as with ginger, and while the taste is hot and zesty like ginger, it has a strong and unique citrusy and mustardy flavor and aroma with hints of pine that is quite unlike its cousin. I recommend looking for it in an Asian grocer where it is usually available fresh or frozen (some people prefer frozen galangal imported from Thailand over fresh galangal grown in California or locally). But ginger will also produce a fine result.

Homemade Vegetarian Thai Green Curry PasteHomemade Vegetarian Thai Green Curry Paste
Recipe by
Cuisine: Thai
Published on March 18, 2012

The base for one of Thailand's most famous food styles, green curry paste adds a vivid zesty and pungent flavor and aroma to curries and soups — this homemade version is especially vibrant and suitable for vegetarians

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon white or black peppercorns
  • 1 lemongrass stalk
  • 4 green chilies
  • 1 shallot, peeled
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1-inch piece fresh galangal or ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh coriander leaves, roots and stems
  • zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons tamari (fermented soy) sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a small saucepan or frying pan over medium-low heat, tossing frequently, until the seeds darken a few shades and become fragrant, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and grind to a powder with the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder.

  • Remove the outer leaves from the lemongrass, trim the ends and finely chop. Coarsely chop the green chilies, shallot, garlic and galangal or ginger.

  • Place the chopped ingredients in a food processor and add the coriander, lime zest and juice, and tamari sauce. Process to a smooth paste, adding up to a 1/4 cup of water as necessary. Add the coriander, cumin and peppercorn spice mixture, along the turmeric and sea salt, and process until combined.

  • Store in a sealed airtight jar for up to 2 weeks, or freeze in small batches for up to several months.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Other homemade food pastes from my kitchen:
Homemade Massaman Paste
Homemade Harissa
Red Chili and Vinegar Paste
Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato Paste


Rosh said...

Very useful post Lisa. I love Thai green curry but dread buying green curry paste as most of them seem to have fish sauce in it! This is very handy. Thanks for sharing :)

Nupur said...

My hubby loves Thai curries.. I did try that once but the never was not the same as we get in restaurants..

am sure this would give better flavours to my experiments :)

JJ said...

That looks delicious. We do lots of stir fry at home, and I enjoy good curry.

Johanna GGG said...

I love that vibrant green colour - so many commercial curry pastes look dull in colour. I had a housemate who used to make this sort of curry paste all the time but can't remember if I have ever made it

anthony stemke said...

I love green curry and so I want to make this recipe, the colour is beautiful.
Thank You.