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How to make your own curry paste

'Cause sometimes store-bought curry pastes just don’t cut it

The following recipes each make about ½ -1 cup of paste, which can be used immediately, stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or frozen for 2 months (freeze in ice cube trays for ease of use). Pastes are traditionally made using a sturdy mortar and pestle, you can make the job quicker and easier by using a blender, hand held stick blender or food processor.

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Use about 1 tbsp of your chosen paste to 500g beef or lamb. Once you’ve tasted the curry base you may choose to take the amount up or down to your taste.

To make a general, all-purpose curry paste

This simple curry paste makes a great base for a tasty beef or lamb curry. Team it with beef stock, tomatoes or coconut cream or milk. Adjust the chillies to suit your taste, omit them completely for a mild, pleasantly spicy curry.

  • Place ¼ cup each ground cumin and coriander and garam masala in a small bowl. Add 1 tbsp turmeric.
  • Stir in ½ cup each of white vinegar and vegetable oil.
  • Stir in 2 finely red chopped chillies (seeds removed), 3 cloves garlic (crushed) and a 3cm piece of ginger (peeled and grated

To make the South East Asian style spice paste

  • Dry fry 3tsp each of the coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant. See tip below.
  • Use a mortar and pestle and grind spices to a powder.
  • Add a 3cm piece ginger (peeled and chopped) and 3 cloves garlic (peeled). Pound a little to soften.
  • Add 3 trimmed lemongrass stalks and 3-4 chillies (seeds removed). Pound to a smooth paste, adding a little water if necessary.
  • Stir in /14 cup toasted desiccated coconut.
  • Note if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, add a little water to mix and use a hand held stick blender to make the paste.

TIP: Roast the spices in a dry frypan, keep the pan moving so the spices toast evenly, the spices will begin to change colour and their aroma will intensify. Let them cool slightly.

To make a Thai style green curry paste

  • Place 3 cloves of garlic (crushed) and a 2cm piece of ginger (peeled and grated) in a food processor.
  • Add 3 trimmed lemongrass stalks and 4-6 long green chillies (seeds removed). Pulse to a smooth paste, adding a little water if necessary.
  • Add 1 bunch of roughly chopped fresh coriander (with roots). Process, adding ¼ cup vegetable oil.
  • Process until mixture is smooth.