This basic curry paste is a staple ingredient in many Thai curries. Most Thai curry pastes also can be made from it by adding other ingredients required.
In the countryside of Thailand, life here is still somewhat easy going. The evening meal is still the main meal of the day in which everyone in a family enjoys entertaining together. Every late afternoon, the scene of ladies with their busy hands are preparing the family’s big meal always strikes the eyes. A wonderful sound with a steady rhythm of a pastel striking a mortar, the sound that a lady is making the curry paste, the staple ingredient in making many delicious Thai curries. Precise amounts of ingredients that are mostly collected from a kitchen-garden are used in a particular paste. The recipes are always passed down from a generation to a generation and often slightly vary from a family to another.
With the modern life, many places became bustling cities, and people here do not have enough time prepare those themselves. Many types of ready-made curry pastes are generally available in every market to favour these busy people, but those made at home are still far superior.
With this basic curry paste, wide range of different curry pastes can be made by adding other requiring spices and herbs that are already ground.
- 5-6 dried cayenne peppers in medium size (6-10 inches in length), seeds removed, cut into 1-inch lengths, soak in water until soft and then drained well
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp roughly chopped galangal
- 1 tsp lime zest (use makrut lime zest if available)
- 2 tbsp lemongrass stalk slices
- 1tbsp roughly chopped shallots
- 1tbsp roughly chopped garlic cloves
- 1 tsp shrimp paste
- With a mortar and a pestle, pound the cayenne peppers and salt together until ground and smooth.
- Add the galangal, the lime zest and the lemongrass slices and pound until ground, homogeneous and smooth.
- Add the red shallot slices and the garlic slices and pound until ground, homogeneous and smooth.
- Add shrimp paste and then pound and turn until a paste is formed well.
If making it in a blender or a food processor, add everything and apply a bit of coconut milk (about 2 tbsp) enough to process smoothly. Blend everything into a smooth and homogeneous paste. This basic curry paste can be kept in a refrigerator for two weeks.