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Pounding your own homemade Massaman curry paste will achieve a paste that far exceeds anything you can purchase in a jar. This paste is obviously used to make Massaman curries but you could use it as a paste for just about any Thai curry and not be disappointed. I am always making my own Massaman curry paste as once you’ve made your own, store bought will never quite do the job. For optimum flavour, pounding the ingredients into a paste is important. You just don’t get the same fantastic flavour when you blend it.
That said, most Thai people, busy with their jobs and lives in general don’t spend time pounding their own curry pastes. Curry pastes are so readily available in Thailand, made fresh and purchased from markets.
You could cheat a little with this Massaman curry paste recipe and give the aromatic ingredients a good pounding for about five minutes and then finish it all in a blender or spice grinder. The flavour won’t be as intense as only pounding it but it will still be better than blending it from the start.
However you decide to proceed with this, you can rest assured that even if you only blend the ingredients, you will still end up with an outstanding curry paste that is bursting with flavour.
Massaman curries are different to other well-know Thai curries as they have a lot more spices in them. It is believed the Massaman curry has Muslim roots which is evident from the spices used, just like the cooking of Northern India and Pakistan.
- 1 tbsp of coriander seeds
- 1½ tbsp of cumin seeds
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 tsb black peppercorns
- 1 whole nutmeg
- The seeds from 6 green cardamom pods
- 1 - 5cm (2 inch) cinnamon stick
- 12 large dried red chillis deseeded and soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
- 2 - 3 small shallots finely sliced
- 1 long stick oflemongrass white part only - sliced and roughly approx 3 generous tablespoons
- 1 thumbsized piece of galangal sliced into thin rounds
- 8 cloves garlic - smashed
- Zest of ½ lime
- 3 kaffir lime leaves - fresh or frozen
- 2 tsp shrimp paste
- Heat a pan over medium high heat and toast the whole spices until warm to the touch and fragrant but not yet smoking. Transfer to a pestle and mortar to cool and then pound to a fine powder.
- Transfer the ground spices to a plate and then add all the aromatic spices to the pestle and mortar. Pound the spice for 15 to 20 minutes until it is broken down into a paste.
- Add the shrimp paste and ground spices and pound for another 5 minutes or so until you have a delicious, buttery curry paste.
- The paste will keep in the fridge for about three days and it freezes very well.
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