Homemade Thai Red Curry Paste

Thai red curry paste

The same principles that apply to making your own spice blends at home similarly apply to homemade pastes, chutneys and sauces. Jarred and/or canned varieties available at your local market lack the freshness and flare that you can easily achieve by making your own staples at home. Certainly another advantage is you have total control over the quantity and quality of the ingredients used. The process is easier than you might initially think — especially if your kitchen is stocked with a spice grinder or food processor — and if stored in tightly sealed jars, spice blends will stay fresh for months on end, while most pastes, chutneys and sauces will keep well in the fridge for a few weeks or longer.

As I am exploring Thai cooking in more depth lately, it seems essential that I have some fresh curry pastes on hand as they are an essential addition to so many Thai dishes. Many of the commercial ready-made Thai curry pastes that you find on grocery store shelves contain fish sauce making them unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans, so there is an extra incentive to make your own. In addition to Thai green curry paste, this red curry paste is now a frequent occupant on the second floor of my fridge. Used sparingly, your soups, sauces and curries will benefit from the lingering sensation of hot chilies, fresh galangal or ginger, and lemongrass. Those with passionate palates may exercise less restraint for a more febrile experience.

Homemade Thai Red Curry PasteHomemade Vegetarian Thai Red Curry Paste
Recipe by
Cuisine: Thai
Published on September 15, 2012

The most popular base for Thai curries, red curry paste is a spicy chili paste made with fresh aromatic galangal, lemongrass and lime, adding a pungent and vivid flavor and aroma to curries and soups — this homemade version is especially vibrant and suitable for vegetarians

Preparation: 15 minutes

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  • 10 dried whole red chilies, broken into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1-inch piece fresh galangal or ginger, chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • zest from 1 lime
  • juice from 1 lime
  • water as needed
  • Using a large mortar and pestle, pound together all of the ingredients until a fairly thick paste is formed. For the sake of convenience you may wish to use a food processor. Add some water to achieve your desired consistency.

  • If you want a thicker paste than the version I made here, use less lime juice or omit it entirely and opt for the mortar and pestle method. I found the lime juice worked well combined with some grated zest. Fresh kaffir lime leaves and peel as well as fresh lemon basil leaves are a fragrant addition to the paste and can be used in place of the lime.

Makes about 1 cup
More pastes you are are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Homemade Massaman Curry Paste
Homemade Thai Green Curry Paste
Red Chili and Vinegar Paste
Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato Paste


Venera@veggykitchen said...

In Russia it is a season when women make all kinds of jarred and canned jams, sauces and pastes. I never tried to make Thai curry. Now it's a high time to try it. Thanks for the recipe. I love hot stuff!

Lisa Turner said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. If you enjoy heat as much as I do, this is a must try paste for sure.

moonsword said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! I was looking for aji panca paste and this will do perfectly! Cheers!

Lisa Turner said...

It really is amazing. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Kare @ Kitchen Treaty said...

This looks amazing, and so so easy. Thanks for the recipe; can't wait to try it!

Claire said...

I've made red and green curry paste once each and I need to make some again - thanks for the inspiration! My family loves red curry especially, and you're right, most of the stuff at the store isn't that great (and the brands that are the best are the hardest to find here, for some reason.)