Curry paste can be used for making curries, stews and soups, noodles and rice dishes and even salad dressings or dips. You can buy curry paste in most grocery stores, but the homemade version is fresher, tastier and it allows you to adjust the spices and herbs to your liking. If you are sensitive to hot spices, you can substitute some of the chilis with an equal amount of sweet red pepper slices. And remember that you can always adjust the spiciness of your dish by adding a dairy-free cream of choice to your recipe. Roasting the peppers, shallots, garlic and ginger together adds a rich flavor and creamier texture to this homemade curry paste. It’s also better for your digestion, especially when it comes to garlic. There’s a lot of garlic in this recipe (two big heads!) and roasting them alters their chemicals thus making them milder and easier to digest. This homemade curry paste is fantastic––you have to try making it!
Yellow Curry Paste [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
- Olive oil for roasting
- 2 big garlic heads – yes, heads and not buds!
- 6 red hot chili peppers
- 4-5 purple shallots or very small red onions
- 3-inch piece of ginger root, peeled
- 1 lemon grass stalk
- 3-4 tablespoons boiled water
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, dry roasted
- Lime juice from one green lime
- 1 teaspoon powdered cumin
- 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bunch of coriander leaves with stems
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- With a sharp knife, slice off the edge of each garlic head that is opposite the stem. Slice off a thin layer, about 1/4 inch thick to expose each individual garlic bud. Peel off the papery outer layer of the garlic heads but leave the skin of each garlic bud intact.
- Place the garlic heads, chilis, shallots and ginger root in an oven proof pan (e.g. cast iron or clay) with a matching lid and drizzle olive oil on the ingredients turning them to coat all over with oil. Make sure that the garlic heads are placed cut side up in the pan. Also, for proper roasting, make sure that the ingredients are not spread far apart in the pan.
- Put an oven proof lid on the pan or skillet and roast in preheated oven on middle rack for 45 minutes.
- Take out and transfer all ingredients on a side dish except the garlic heads.
- Brush the garlics with a bit of olive oil or turn them in the oil that’s in the pan and place them again cut side up. Put the lid on and roast the garlics in oven at same temperature for another 15 minutes.
- Remove garlics when done and place them on a dish to cool.
- When cooled enough to handle, squeeze the bottom of each garlic head and the buds will slide out of their skins and casings. If necessary, you can use a small spoon to extract them, but the buds should come out easily.
- Soften the lemongrass by slicing the lemongrass stalk into small pieces and placing them into a drinking glass. Add a bit of water to cover them (about 3-4 tablespoons). Heat this up on high in microwave for about 30 seconds. Take out and set aside.
- On stovetop, heat up a small dry skillet (no oil). Adjust heat to medium-high and add the coriander seeds turning them frequently. Roast them for 2-3 minutes, not more, and until aromatic. They should not burn.
- Transfer to the bowl of your food processor the roasted chilis, shallots, ginger and garlic with remaining olive oil they roasted in. Add the lemongrass pieces with the water, toasted coriander seeds, lime juice, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, salt and coriander leaves with stems. Process until you obtain a soft creamy paste. Transfer to a clean glass jar and seal.
Keeps in refrigerator for up to 5 days. For freezing: You can divide the paste into two or three portions and freeze in smaller glass jars for 2 to 3 months as long as you leave 1/2 inch free space below the top of the jar and let it thaw in the fridge before using it.