Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Veg Thai Red Curry with Homemade Thai Curry Paste

You may think I'm crazy but one of my favourite pastimes is grocery shopping. The bigger the store, the happier I am. And what I love about the holiday season is that you get to listen to this lovely, soothing music while you decide what pasta to pick, which herbs to choose, what bread to buy and what snacks to opt for.

Ranch Market is usually the store I go to if I decide to cook Thai food. One aisle that I spend the most time in is the vegetable aisle. I like looking at the different varieties of mushrooms. Till now apart from what I usually buy - the regular, baby bella and sometimes portobello, the only variety I dared to buy were the shiitake mushrooms. This time I was very tempted to buy straw mushrooms. I decided to buy the peeled, canned mushrooms instead of the fresh ones. No particular reason.

I generally avoid using canned products - the fresh ones are always healthier. But this time tempatation took over me and I also picked up a can of baby corn. Back In B'lore I used to buy fresh babycorn by the dozen. Unfortunately we do not get fresh babycorn here. I also prefer bamboo shoots in my Thai curry so picked that up as well. So much for avoiding canned goods, I hear you saying.

I also like large pieces of galangal and lemongrass in my curry so I picked them too and also picked some leeks.

 After I came home, I remembered seeing a recipe for Thai red curry paste in Nita Mehta's Vegetarian Microwave Cookbook. So instead of using store bought Thai curry paste, I thought of giving it a try. 

I used galangal instead of ginger, increased the chillies, decreased the peppercorns and made a couple more minor changes to suit our taste. The colour didn't please me much, but I guess that depends on what chillies you use. However, the paste did lend a nice flavour to the curry and my husband liked it a a lot, so I cannot complain.
If you are using store bought Thai curry paste, just go directly to the Thai curry recipe.

Thai Red Curry Paste

Ingredients :
5 to 6 whole red chillies (preferably kashmiri)
1 shallot or 1/2 onion
6 to 7 garlic cloves
1 1/2" galangal or 1" ginger
1 stalk lemongrass or rind of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 peppercorns 
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional, for the colour)

Method :
Break chillies into half and soak in 1/2 cup of warm water for 15 minutes. Grind into a paste with the rest of the ingredients. Use the water in which the chillies were soaked as needed, to get a fine paste. [The paste will be very spicy, so beware!]

If you do not want to use the paste the same day, just roast it for a few minutes in 2 tbsp oil till the water evaporates. Cool and refrigerate. 

Veg Thai Red Curry

Whenever I make pasta, lasagna or Thai curry, I like to use different varieties of vegetables. I have mentioned a few here. Feel free to make changes and add or subtract vegetables as per your liking. I personally like to use additional lemon grass and galangal in the curry because I love the flavour given out by them, but you needn't add them as they have already lent their flavour to the paste. I forgot to add carrots this time, but I will include it in the list. 


Thai red curry paste - store bought or homemade, about 2 oz (50 g)
1/2 of red capsicum, chopped
1/2 of yellow capsicum, chopped
6 to 8 baby corn, slit lengthwise
1/2 cup chopped eggplant
1/2 cup chopped broccoli
1/2 cup canned bamboo shoots
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped leek
5 to 6 tofu pieces
2 tbsp chopped lemon grass
1" galangal
2 1/2 cups coconut milk (I used 2 cups canned coconut milk + 1/2 cup water)
1/2 tsp soy sauce
4 to 5 basil, roughly chopped

1 tsp oil + 1/2 tsp chilli powder

Method :
In a large pan, heat 3 tbsp oil. Add Thai red curry paste  and roast for a few minutes till the water evaporates. Add 1/2 cup coconut milk and bring to a light boil. Add all the vegetables and mix well. Add the remaining coconut milk and soy sauce and bring to a roaring boil.

 Add chopped basil and salt and boil for a couple more minutes. Adjust the spice level. Some chillies can be really spicy while some may not. I actually heated oil+1/2 tsp chilli powder in the microwave (for half a minute) and added it to the dish.

One change I would like to make next time, as I mentioned, would be to try making the paste with some other type of chilli which will give me a deeper red colour. Any suggestions are welcome.

Update - Thanks for your suggestions. I have updated the post accordingly.



  1. I looooooooooooooove this curry, thanks for the paste recipe.

  2. Thai curry looks superb ...love the way u explained it n made it...yummy

  3. Ur description was too good,enjoyed the preparation of the curry, clicks were too good.U can add some Kashmiri chilly powder just for the color next time.

  4. loved the recipe---this is my favourite but have never made the home made Thai Paste---yum ! bookmarked !!

  5. yummy Thai curry Apy,i hv made this 2-3 times with store bght paste..mushroom ,carrot and capsi is a must for me .. i hv also tried it with chikpeas frm a recipe tht i read in one blog.
    btw u forgot to gv serving suggestions though ur pic says Basmati rice.Which rice goes the best with Thai curry ?Jasmine rice?
    For red colour paste do add Byadgi Mirsanga in ur shopping list from India !!

  6. Curry sounds interesting..thanks for sharing.

  7. The curry sure wud have tasted gud...thx for the curry paste recipe....

  8. i think flavour of masala is very good and it makes the dish geogeous

  9. Paste sounds delicious..must try this,well explained...thanks dear.

  10. Very inviting curry, am in love with this delicious curry.

  11. Thai red curry looks delicious. Next time add some paparika to increase the color.

  12. Try kashmiri chilli.Gives rich red colour.

  13. Dear Aparna
    How are you? Thats a great dish. I liked it. Thank you so much for sharing the curry paste recipe. I am tired of using off the self ones. WIll try this soon.
    Have a nice day

  14. home made thai red paste, am def book marking this...this is my fav but sure i will give it a try with chick :) slurp!

  15. This curry looks so hearty and comforting!

  16. Jyothiakka,

    At home we have this with basmati rice. But in restaurants I believe they serve jasmine rice. I have never tried making it at home.

    I do get confused with names of chillies. Will get byadgi :).

  17. Such a great curry dish! Looks simple to make!

  18. i luv the spicy flavors of thai food. u have done a gr8 job at explaining the intricacies of this recipe. i luv spending time at the grocery store too... u learn a lot of stuff abt other cuisines and cultures there...

  19. Apy, such a tempting photo! Love Thai food minus all the sugar they put in it. With this recipe we can control the salt too. Thanks for the recipe - will save to my Recipe archive.

  20. woo i am a huge fan of thai cuisine..just drooling..

  21. flavourful colourful curry looks wonderful

  22. First visit to your blog! love it and love the dish - Thai is a favorite cuisine in my home... posted a pad thai receipe recently - do check out at http://priyasnowserving.blogspot.com/

  23. Oooh..I love making Thai curries with fresh homemade paste too. This one looks delicious!

  24. If you soak the Kashmiri Mirchis in hot water for ten minutes before grinding it will give you a better colour.



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