Thai green curry paste recipe

554284_10151721589140304_215479147_nThis is a recipe that I actually thought I’d lost but just so happened across it when doing a January clear out. I learned this recipe at a cooking class on my birthday in 2011 at Time for Lime cooking school on the beautiful Thai island of Koh Lanta. The founder and manager, Junie, started the lesson by telling us that we would taste the best Thai food we had ever tasted, and that it would be made by our own fair hands. She wasn’t wrong!

As we were guided by a local chef I presumed that recreating the exact taste back home would be difficult, but it wasn’t. As long as you have the right ingredients and stick to the proportions you will create a completely delightful, mouth-watering and authentic Thai curry paste. The difference between a fresh sauce, full of flavour and scrumptious smells, and what you will get out of a bottle or jar is monumental.

You may have to go to a bit of effort to get some of the ingredients as many won’t be readily available in supermarkets or local stores. But said effort will be worth it when you are seduced by the taste of the end result! Most ingredients shouldn’t be subsituted if possible, as that really will affect the taste. Kaffir limes can be subbed for ‘normal’ limes, but kaffir lime leaves are a must (you buy these seperately in packets anyway). Thai sweet basil is nothing like regular basil – it has a sweet aniseed flavour. And despite what it looks like, galangal is not the same as ginger – they are mere cousins, as is fresh turmeric with the trademade nobbly features, but with a more orange appearance. This cannot be substituted for ground turmeric as the tastes are too dissimilar.  The only substituted I’ve made to the original recipe is replacing fish sauce with light soy sauce. If you’re lucky you might be able to get a vegetarian/vegan fish sauce but soy is a reasonable replacement as it’s the salty flavour you’re after. You’ll notice that there’s a lot of chillies in this recipe. Feel free to adapt this but remember that a spicy kick is the norm in Thailand!

At the cooking class we did proper hard graft: hand blending everything by hand in a massive mortar with pestle, however to save time – and callouses on your hands! – feel free to use a blender. If using a mortar you will need a big one given the quantities. You can actually start in a mortar to get more of the fresh flavours out, and then transfer over to a blender.

You can freeze cubes of the paste in an ice cube tray to pop out for a quick curry in the future. They should last about six months in the freezer. This recipe makes a lot of paste so you can always half the ingredients if you want less. I’ve kept the quantities high as I reckon that if you’re buying in so many special ingredients you might as well use them up in this recipe.

Thai green curry paste

  • Servings: 2-3 cups
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  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns (you can use black if you really can’t get white)
  • 3 stems of fresh lemongrass (2/3 of the thickest part)
  • 1 inch galangal
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric (see above)
  • 2 tsp kaffir lime rind
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • 5 Thai shallots (or 1/2 a red onion)
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 8 large fresh green chillies
  • 20 green birds eye chillies
  • 15 coriander leaves
  • 15 Thai sweet basil leaves
  • 8 coriander stems
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce (or vegetarian fish sauce)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil


Chop all the fresh ingredients finely. If you’re using a mortar and pestle these ingredients need to be super finely chopped, but if using a blender, just finely chopped will do.

Mix all the chopped fresh ingredients and the soy sauce, but not the vegetable oil, in a bowl together.

Heat a dry pan (no oil) over a medium heat. Add the coriander seeds and peppercorns and begin to dry fry. Add the cumin seeds after about a minute and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant. The cumin is added second so they don’t burn.

Grind the roasted spices, either in a grinder or in a mortar. Transfer the ground spices to a blender or mortar and add the fresh ingredient mix, little by little and blend until you have a smooth paste. Add the vegetable little by little to get a well-blended paste.

And there you have it – a delicious, fragrant homemade paste that can be fried as a base for a delicious green curry!

Full curry recipe to follow but the simplest  way to transform this paste into a curry is to heat 2 tablespoons of paste in some oil, mix until fragrant, then mix in a can of coconut milk. That is your basic sauce and you can add your desired vegetables to it and simmer gently until cooked.


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