Homemade Thai Red Curry Paste

Thai Red Curry
The Spruce
Ratings (138)
  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 Cup (4 Servings)

This Thai red curry paste is easy to make from scratch—you'll never buy packaged curry pastes again once you try this recipe. Homemade curry paste creates tastier curries, and they're much healthier too! Red curry paste makes for excellent Thai curry, including curry chicken and ​seafood curries, ​beef curry, ​vegetarian curries and fish curry. Or add a dollop of this red paste to flavor Thai soups, noodles or other dishes. 

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Watch Now: Thai Red Curry Paste

Ingredients

  • 1 shallot (or 1/4 cup chopped purple onion)
  • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass (minced, or 3 tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass; available at Asian stores)
  • 1 to 2 red chilies (or 1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, or 2 to 3 tsp. Thai chili sauce)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger, sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup (or good-tasting tomato puree)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (available in most spice aisles)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or for vegetarians 2 tbsp. soy sauce, plus salt to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (or for vegetarians 1 tbsp. Thai golden mountain sauce, both available at Asian stores)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons chili powder (from the spice aisle, depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons thick coconut milk (depending on how thick you want the paste; reserve remaining for cooking the curry)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (or add 1 cinnamon stick to your curry pot)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process well to create a fragrant Thai red curry paste.

  3. If too thick, add a little more coconut milk to help blend ingredients. Note that it will taste very strong at this point, but will mellow when you add your curry ingredients plus remaining coconut milk. Also, it will turn a stronger red color once it is cooked, bringing out the red chili color.

  4. Use immediately or store for later.

Tips

  • If you prefer a curry sauce rather than a paste, add up to 1 can coconut milk and process in the food processor.
  • To store, place the curry paste in an airtight jar or tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 1/2 weeks; freeze thereafter.
  • To use immediately, fry the paste in a little oil to release the fragrance, about 1 minute. Add your choice of meat, tofu, wheat gluten or vegetables and some vegetables that work well with red curry: like tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, snow peas, cauliflower, and spinach.

About Chili Powder

Since you can't always find Thai chili powder, feel free to use the chili powder from your local supermarket. Although Mexican in origin, it works wonderfully well for this and other Thai recipes, as the chilies are roasted first before being blended into powder. If using Thai or Asian chili powder, be sure to reduce the amount to a teaspoon or two rather than tablespoons, or it will be far too spicy.