Homemade Thai Yellow Curry Paste
Homemade thai yellow curry paste with simple ingredients! Roasted garlic and shallots make this recipe extra delicious. Loaded with turmeric, curry powder, lime zest, and lemongrass, this recipe tastes just like your favorite Thai restaurants! Also, you can make a batch and use it for months!
You guys. I have been pigging out on all sorts of Thai curries and noodle bowls ever since the day this little yellow curry paste came into my life. The flavor is nice and BOLD. And friends I do mean bold. Not like the stuff in a can where only after adding all of the can does the curry finally start to resemble the stuff you get from a Thai restaurant. I think it’s pretty obvi that not all curry pastes are created equal. And the stuff that comes out of a can from the international aisle of the grocery store seems to be the stuff that barely even makes your curry taste decent.
Say hello to this homemade Thai yellow curry paste. I so wish you could smell this through the screen, it’s that good.
Making homemade yellow curry paste isn’t difficult, and the best thing is that one batch will last you for a week in the fridge or months in the freezer. Did I mention that this recipe is also going to be A LOT more cost effective than constantly purchasing jars or cans of yellow curry paste. Chyeaah.
You will probably spend~$5 purchasing ingredients you don’t have (the rest are mostly pantry staples!). And how much do you spend on one of those jars of curry paste? Oh um.. like somewhere in the ballpark of $4? This makes ~ 1 ½ cups of paste while the jars contain barely 4 ounces!
What really helps make the flavors extra bold and super delicious is roasting the shallots and garlic in the oven. And also a ton of it! Because i’m a firm believer in flavor. The reason we all love Thai curries from restaurants isn’t because they lack flavor. It’s because of the flavor explosion that starts at your mouth and goes all the way to your brain while the soft, creaminess of coconut lingers and help cool the palette.
Let’s talk ingredients.
As I mentioned, we start by drizzling 2 pieces of foil with a little olive oil and wrapping up the shallots and garlic separately. Then, place them in a skillet and pop them on the stove for just a couple of minutes or until you hear the onions and garlic sizzling inside the foil. This quickly starts the browning process. Heat your oven while this is going on. Also, I highly encourage you to use shallots in this recipe, but if you absolutely cannot find them or just don’t want to, red onions will do. Use your best judgement on how many you’ll need based on the size. Pop the skillet in the oven and let it roast up for about 45-minutes to an hour.
In the meantime, you can soak your peppers. Traditionally, curry paste is made using red birds eye chilis. And yes, you’re right, my chilis aren’t birds eye. It’s because I went bonkers looking for them this time (I checked at least 10 different regular grocery stores). And well, I took this as an opportunity to make sure that other peppers work just as well. These are slightly darker and larger than dried birds eye chilis but they did the trick. The heat level isn’t too intense on these either. I used, I think 12, and the heat level on the curry paste was perfect for us. Since the itty-bitty birds eye chili’s heat up this paste, use as many of as few as you like. The recipe can easily be tweaked to make this curry paste mild, or as they call it at my favorite Thai restaurant, SUPERMAN HOT. The yellow curry paste is easily customizable to your own spice preference.
Oh! And one more note worthy ingredient. Whole coriander seeds. During the recipe testing phase, I used the curry paste to make yellow curry with chicken and potatoes for a pot luck dinner at my friends place and the #1 most mentioned likes about the curry — the little bits of smoky coriander running through the curry paste. Also noted, there wasn’t enough! So I upped the quantity to a whole tablespoon. The coriander seeds are a nice earthy balance to the rich, sweeter flavors of roasted garlic and shallots.
Other notable flavors, cilantro, turmeric, curry powder (mild!), ginger paste and lemongrass paste. <– The last ingredient. Okay, so I’ve seen and used lemongrass stalks from the grocery store before, but honestly, for this recipe, I find it easier to just use the paste that comes in a tube in the produce section at the grocery store. My grocery store stocks Gourmet Garden, I think it is. You can also purchase lemongrass paste at most Asian Grocery stores.
Okay! my goals for you for the weekend– make this yellow curry paste and stock up on it because I’m going to be turning it into all sorts of deliciousness later on!
- 1 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
- 5 heads garlic (yes, heads not CLOVES!)
- 5 medium shallots (or 2-3 small red onions)
- 5 - 25 dried birds eye chilis
- 3 tablespoons ginger paste (homemade or store-bought)
- 5 tablespoons lemongrass paste (see note)
- ⅓ cup cilantro leaves + steams
- 2 - 3 tablespoons mild curry powder
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- zest of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375ºF.
- ROASTING THE CORIANDER: Grab an oven proof skillet, add the coriander seeds and toast over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes. You will know the seeds are done roasting when you can smell them, do not allow them to brown. Place in a bowl, set aside.
- SHALLOTS AND GARLIC:Peel the shallots and cut the tops of the heads of garlic off so the cloves are exposed. Grab 2 pieces of foil. Place the shallots in one and the garlic in the other piece of foil. Drizzle them with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil each and a pinch of salt and pepper. Wrap up the foil so the shallots and garlic are completely covered. To save dishes, use the same skillet you used for the coriander. Place both foil packets into the skillet and place the skillet on the stove over medium high heat. Allow the onions and garlic to heat through, about 5 minutes. You'll start to hear the sizzling noises. Remove the skillet from the stove and immediately place it inside the oven and allow the shallots and garlic to roast for 45 minutes - 1 hour.
- BIRDS EYE CHILI: Heat 1 cup of water to boiling (I did this in a hot water kettle). In a bowl, place the number of chilis you want to use. A rough guideline: 5 chillies = mild. 5-10 chilis = medium 10-20 chilis = hot and 20-25 chilis= superman hot. Pour the hot water over the chilis and allow them to soak for 20-30 minutes and rehydrate. Drain the chillies before placing in the food processor.
- CURRY PASTE: Remove the roasted garlic cloves from the peel and place them in the food processor along with the roasted shallots, chilis, ginger paste, lemongrass paste, cilantro, roasted coriander seeds, curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon powder, brown sugar, and the zest of a lime. Pulse the mixture until it reaches a chunky sauce-like consistency.
- Use the homemade curry paste just as you would the store bought stuff. This makes about 1 ½ cups of curry paste. Store the leftover paste in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for 4-6 months.
- Lemongrass paste is available in most regular grocery stores near the fresh herbs. I used a brand called Gourmet Garden. I know that Kroger and Walmart carry it for sure as I have purchased it from both. Lemongrass paste is also available in Asian grocery stores.
- I have made this paste in the past with birds-eye chilis but couldn't find them in stores this time. I used small red chilis from the Hispanic food section (I can't remember the name!) but really any small dried red chili will do! 🙂
IS THIS A GOOD CHOICE FOR YOU?
*Please note: the nutritional facts calculated are an estimate based on the ingredients i’ve used. If you’d like a more accurate count, please calculate them using the ingredients/brands you’ve used to prepare the recipe. The nutritional facts for the thai yellow curry paste is based on 24 (1 tablespoon servings).*