Curry paste is a primary ingredient in Asian cuisine and is getting popularity all over in recent times. It is a blend of spices and condiments and is used to flavour vegetables, stews, curries etc. The blend is made with fresh ingredients which are moistened with natural moisture or with water/ stock/ vinegar etc to get a smooth paste. They are predominant in Thai cuisine where they form the base for Thai curries which are served with steamed rice.
The various forms of curry pastes are as follows:
Red Curry Paste:
It is made with ingredients which include red chillies (fresh/ dried), galangal (thai ginger), peppercorns, lemon grass, corinader roots, shallots, garlic, kaffir lime leaves/ zest etc.
Green Curry Paste:
It is made with ingredients which include green chillies, galangal (thai ginger), peppercorns, lemon grass, corinader roots, shallots, garlic, kaffir lime leaves/ zest etc.
Massaman Curry Paste:
It contains a lot of dry spices like cumin, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon and thus leaves behind a very Indian touch to the end gravy.
Yellow Curry Paste:
It is made with yellow coloured chillies and a dash of turmeric along with other ingredients similar to red and green curry paste.
Indian Curry Paste:
These curry pastes will vary along with the recipe. The various varieties include a tandoori masala paste, korma paste, vindaloo paste, malabari paste, dum aloo paste, hyderabadi curry paste, kolhapuri gravy paste etc.
Basic Curry Paste:
This includes a basic paste of onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and salt sauteed in oil, cooled and then blended into a paste.
In order to make curry paste at home, you need to either roast or fry the dry ingredients before blending them. This aids in enhancing the flavour of the paste. Cool the ingredients and blend with a moistening agent.
How to select
There are many brands available which offer endless varieties of curry pastes. Select as required. Check the manufacturing date, expiry date and packaging conditions before purchasing. If purchasing canned paste, ensure that the cans are not puffed.
· Curry pastes are primarily used to flavour vegetables. Since the pastes will be strong in flavour, thin down a little and then add vegetables of your choice to make quick accompaniments to rotis, chapatis etc.
· Pastes like Red curry paste and Green curry paste is cooked with vegetables like broccoli, carrots, french beans, capsicum, baby corn, basil, kaffir lime leaves, Thai brinjal etc, thinned down with coconut milk to prepare Thai curries which are served with steamed rice. Alternatively, chicken can also be used instead of vegetables.
· Use ready made curry pastes to make recipes like Dum Aloo, Bhagara Baingan, Mutter Paneer etc.
· These pastes can be used in recipes like Biryani's which call for layered vegetables.
How to store
Always store under refrigerated conditions once the pack is opened. Fresh paste prepared at home must be stored in dry sterilised jars/ bottles in refrigerated conditions. If you are adding salt or vinegar to the paste, the shelf life will increase. However, ensure that you check the amount of salt while cooking.