As I’ve often said, making a curry paste is a labor of love. It’s a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that’s best saved for a weekend — or whenever you have a few extra hours.
Yesterday, I made a delicious new batch of red curry paste…a task that first required a trip to Chinatown to pick up the more unusual ingredients (namely, kaffir limes, galangal and lemongrass). Thanks to some help in the kitchen, I was able to make this latest batch in only about 1.5 hours — a new record! It helps to have a second set of hands when you’re chopping, grinding and pounding all 11 ingredients into a fine paste.
Curry paste, less you forget, is used as the base of many curry meals, particularly those calling for coconut milk. This latest batch is enough to make at least 8 curry meals in the weeks ahead. It’s nice to get the hard part over with…sort of like stocking up for a long winter ahead or canning garden tomatoes in Mason jars to make your own homemade sauces.
My favorite part of the recipe — other than adding the beautiful red chile peppers that provide its vibrant color — is dry-roasting the spices. I take two teaspoons each of whole coriander and cumin seeds, dampen with a touch of water, and swirl in a hot wok until aromatic. The scent is warm and earthy — filling the apartment with a preview of what’s to come when the curry paste is used to make fragrant, spices dishes…particularly welcome as evenings begin to cool.
Below, dry-roasted coriander and cumin. Once cooled, the spices are pounded in a mortar & pestle along with white peppercorn, and added to the paste.