3 Curry Paste Recipes Using Turmeric


3 curry paste recipes using turmeric

Eating a curry is a delicious way to get some turmeric into your diet. It’s not the most effective way as there is not a lot of turmeric in a curry but it is rather yummy.

Turmeric along with a few other herbs and spices (coriander, cumin etc.) form the base for most curry dry mixes or pastes. So if you don’t feel like making a mix/paste, a shop bought version will still have turmeric in it but making your own will be fresher and certainly make your curry taste better.  Sure it’s a bit more effort but totally worth it. So onto the recipes :

Classic Curry Paste

This is a paste that can be used for any curry be it meat, seafood, beans and legumes or good old vegetables.

  • You start by dicing a medium to large onion.
  • Mince or crush 2-3 cloves of garlic and a knob of ginger.
  • Finely chop 2 green chili’s, with or without the seeds.

You can either blend all these ingredients together in a food processor or simply chuck them in a pan to cook. You’ll have a more paste like consistency if you blend them first. If you don’t have a processor or can’t be bothered, cooking them will still work out fine but may take longer and have a bit of a chunky, rustic look to it.

So whatever you decide, the next step is to cook the ingredients in a pan until they soften and melt into a paste like consistency.

You add oil which can be any cooking oil. I have been using mustard seed oil recently but I have also used macadamia, sunflower and canola occasionally.

Add a few glugs to the pan and cook away on a low heat. Stirring to stop the mixture sticking.

When you are happy that the ingredients are cooked and formed into a paste, add

  • a cup of diced tomatoes
  • a teaspoon of turmeric powder

This will give the paste more volume and a golden colour that is usually associated with curries.

Cook it until the tomato juices are boiled off and the paste is thick

Now create a dry mix, using :

  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp peppercorn
  • 3-4 black cardamom
  • 1/2 Cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds3 tbsp coriander seeds (or about 2 tablespoons of powder)

Roast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan over a hob. Shake the pan constant to avoid burning the seeds. When you begin to smell the aroma of the seeds they are ready. Place them in a grinder or mortar and pestle which the other ingredients and grind into a powder.

Stir the powder into the paste you have just made and you are done.

Yellow Thai Curry Paste

For something a little different to the classic Indian curry, why not try a Thai curry. As these curries are usually made with coconut cream and a few different herbs the taste is very different to a tomato based curry.

The ingredients that give this paste such a unique taste are lemongrass and fresh coriander. Here is what you need :

  • 3 stalks of fresh lemongrass
  • Half of a bunch of fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons cumin, whole seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander, whole seeds
  • 1 red chili chopped up
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric paste or powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • juice of half a lime
  • Half a cup of diced onions (red or brown) or shallots
  • 1 or 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped ginger or galangal
  • A dash of soy sauce
  • A dash of fish sauce

You can make the paste using a food processor or a mortar and pestle. I use a mortar and pestle but the food processor is a lot easier.

With the lemon grass you only want the thicker bottom part so remove the raspy leaves. Cut the bottom parts into small pieces if you are going to use a mortar and pestle so that they are easier to mash up.

Roughly chop the fresh coriander into smaller parts. Use all the coriander from root to leaves.

Cut the kaffir lime leaves into smaller pieces.

Roast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan until you can smell the aroma. Keep shaking the pan gently so that the seeds don’t burn which will ruin the taste. When you can smell the aroma, tip them into the mortar and pestle and grind into a powder.

Now add the rest of the ingredients to the mortar and pestle and start to grind everything up until you have a paste like consistency.

You may want to add a tablespoon or two of water to help get the process started. This can take a while to do so the food processor option may be better for you.

Once you have a paste like consistency it is ready to use or can be stored in a jar. It should last a month stored in the fridge.

Simple Dry Curry Mix

  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons whole cardamom seeds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in a container with an airtight lid.

Shake to combine.

Store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.

When ready to use, grind and add to dishes according to taste.

Seems like a lot of turmeric in this recipe but  I guess that gives you a good opportunity to get it into your diet.

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown,


Curry is a very versatile dish and the base paste or dry mix can be incorporated into just about any dish. This can include meats or seafood or vegetarian and even vegan options like pulses and legumes and vegetable. Depending on what you put in your curry, it can even be quite a healthy meal option.





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