RECIPE: South Asian curry paste [v]

It would be an understatement to say that there are numerous ways to make a South Asian curry. In a region of over one and a half billion inhabitants, there are untold regional and cultural variations.

This curry paste recipe is intended to be used as a base that you can then go on to use for any curry you wish to make.

For my dish, I simply mix the paste with prawns and vegetables. However, you could also add coconut milk or chopped tomatoes to make a sauce. You could use it to marinate meat or vegetables.

Makes up to 4 curries
Cumin seeds 1sp
Coriander seeds 1tsp
Fennel seeds 1tsp
Mustard seeds 1tsp
Peppercorns 1tsp
Garlic 3-4 cloves
Coriander fresh stalks
Turmeric 2tsp
Garam masala 1tsp

Chilli (fresh or dried)

On a medium heat, dry fry your seeds and peppercorns for a few minutes to release their aroma. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind into a course dust.

I don’t use any salt for the paste for a couple of reasons. The spice mix is pungent enough without the need for another spice. There should also be plenty of salt in your pickles and naan. You can always add salt to your taste as you cook, but you don’t want it to take away from the taste of the main spices.

Place the garlic, coriander stalks, turmeric, garam masala and the ground spice mix into the blender. At this point you can add chilli to your own taste or you can add fresh chilli to your dish as you cook it. This is where I like to add in a pepper and/or a couple of fresh tomatoes. This is so that when you whizz the ingredients together there is something wet that the blade can catch on to and successfully combine all the ingredients into a paste. You could also use water or stock but make sure not to use too much as you want the consistency of a paste, rather than a sauce.

Your paste is ready.