Massaman curry paste

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Adapted from The Blue Elephant Cookbook

Makes just under 1/2 cup.


  • 10 dried red chilies
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 1/2 oz shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 tsp seeds from cardamom pods (Thai white cardamom—apparently different from Scandinavian white cardamom—would be authentic, but we used green)
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 Tbsp chopped galangal
  • 1/2 Tbsp grated lime zest (kaffir limes if you can find them)
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil


Heat the oil in a small skillet. Fry the chilies for about 30 seconds, then remove, leaving behind as much of the oil as possible. Add the shallots and stir-fry until golden brown, then remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat for the garlic.

In a separate pan, dry roast the seeds (coriander, cumin, cloves, cardamom, pepper), then grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle. Add all ingredients except the coconut oil to a food processor and process. Heat 2 Tbsp of the coconut oil to liquefy, and drizzle in to the food processor. Continue to process to a smooth paste, adding a few Tbsp water as needed to facilitate blending.

Fry the paste in the remaining coconut oil for about 10 minutes. (An aroma is supposed to develop, but this stuff smells so strong to begin with that I can't tell the difference.)

Refrigerate or, for really long term storage, freeze.