This versatile coconut-based curry paste can be used to marinade a variety of vegetables (like cauliflower and sweet potato), tofu, or as a base for vegetarian or lentil-based curries. Use freshly-ground spices and juicy young ginger to bring out the flavours of this dish. The paste can be stored in a dry, air-tight container in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. I tend to use Kilner jars for storage.
You will need:
3 tbsp coconut cream (can be substituted by Greek yoghurt or any thick yoghurt)
2 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp saffron (optional)
1-inch piece of ginger
2 garlic cloves
1-inch piece of cinnamon
2 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp dry mango powder (optional)
3 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsbp fresh lemon juice (+ an extra 2 tbsp if making ginger-garlic paste)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp coconut oil (for the ginger-garlic paste)
1 large handful cilantro
Making the spice mix: Dry roast the cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns and bay leaf on a low heat for 3-5 minutes. Do not let the spices burn as this will impart a bitter flavour to the curry paste. Blend the ingredients to a fine powder using a coffee blender.
Ginger-garlic paste: Peel the ginger and chop into small pieces. Use a mortar and pestle or a mini-chopper to make a ginger paste. If using a mini-chopper, peel the garlic and add at the same time to make a garlic-ginger paste. Use coconut oil or lemon juice (not water) to blend the ingredients. If neither is available, using a grater to zest the peeled ginger and crush the garlic with a flat end of a knife, then chop finely. You can make this ginger-garlic paste can be made ahead of time and store in the fridge, under a layer of olive or coconut oil.
Making the curry paste: Chop the cilantro. Throw this and the rest of the ingredients into the blender, along with the ginger-garlic paste and the spice mix. Blend till everything mixes together to form a smooth paste. Transfer to an air-tight jar and store in the fridge.
– you can scale up this recipe to make larger batches and store in the fridge in individual jars.
– do not let moisture seep into this paste at any stage as it will cause the coconut to go rancid and encourage fungal growth. Always use a dry spoon when removing the paste from the jar. Before using, wash the kilner jars and the rubber O-rings in hot water, then dry the jars (not the rings) in a oven set to 100C (drying temperature/very low) for 30 minutes. Let the jars cool to room temperature before adding the paste.
– it is better to store the paste in smaller quantities in individual jars than in one large jar – the paste will remain fresh for a 2-3 weeks as long as it does not come into contact with air (this is why store-bought jars contain lots of oil – the oil keeps out the air, preventing spoilage)