Red curry is not one single dish, nor is there a universal red curry paste. Personal preference and regional differences play a role in how a curry paste is made, and that isn’t even touching on variations of use to make a meal. Prik gaeng phet forms the base of the flavour profile most non-Thais associate with red curry, and is the type of red curry paste you are most likely to purchase in jars at the supermarket.
This is a straightforward recipe for a medium spiced home made red curry paste that is devoid of shrimp paste. For added heat, pop a few more chillies (especially dried red bird’s eyes) into the mix. If you can’t find coriander root then use stems.
Finding kaffir limes in the UK is difficult, but it is possible to source them dried and/or frozen. If you pound the paste by hand (see tips on making curry pastes), avoid managing to fling chilli into your eye like I did.
Vegan Red Curry Paste (Prik Gaeng Phet) พริกแกงเผ็ด
Red curry encompasses a huge range of dishes, but this is a good universal prik gaeng phet red curry paste. The addition of nutmeg may seem unusual, but don’t let it put you off. The addition is based on a recipe given to me by a restaurant outside of Chiang Mai, in the North of Thailand.
- 5 long red dried chillies
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 5 white peppercorns
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp + 1 teaspoon finely sliced lemongrass
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped galangal
- 1 tsp finely sliced kaffir lime rind
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon chopped coriander root
- 2 tablespoons finely sliced shallot
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg, ground (optional)
- Slice the dried chilies open and remove the seeds. Cut into small chunks and soak in hot water until soft. Drain.
- Toast the cumin and coriander seeds over medium heat by shaking them around in a pan for a minute or two until lightly toasted and fragrant. Grind to a powder with a pestle and mortar, along with the white peppercorns, then remove to a smaller bowl.
- Pound the salt and soaked chilies to a paste in the mortar, followed by the lemongrass. Continue in the order of ingredients listed, ensuring each is pounded into a smooth paste before adding the next. Once the shallot has broken down into the paste, add the previously ground spices and nutmeg, if using.
- Author: Kip Dorrell
- Makes: about ¼ cup
- Cuisine: Thai