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How to Make Indian Curry Paste At Home

India, the land of vibrant flavours and colourful festivals, unsurprisingly holds the crown for the world's highest spice consumption, at a staggering 4,808 kt, followed by Nigeria and Bangladesh. This love for spices goes together with their curries, a true symphony of taste where aromatic blends form the base for countless delectable dishes.


The unsung hero for India’s irresistible curries is the good old curry paste. Brands like Sobhna’s are readily available in grocery stores like Woolworths and Farro Fresh. For those who truly crave a deeper understanding of their favourite curries, venturing into the world of homemade pastes unlocks a whole new level of customization.


This allows you to tailor the spice level and flavorr profile to your preferences. From the fiery heat of a vindaloo to the creamy richness of a korma, the possibilities are endless. Let's delve into the wonderful world of curry pastes and explore how to craft your own delicious concoction!


Crafting the Perfect Homemade Indian Curry Paste


There are two main approaches to making Indian curry paste: using whole spices or pre-ground spices.


How to Make Indian Curry Paste At Home

1. The Whole Spice Method:

  • Toasting: Heat a pan over medium heat and dry-roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds (optional), peppercorns, and dried red chillis for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Grind them to a powder in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

  • Blending: Combine chopped shallots, ginger, garlic, ground turmeric, paprika, chilli powder, tomato paste, vinegar, and salt with the ground spices in a food processor. Blend until smooth.


2. The Pre-Ground Spice Method:

  • No toast needed: Simply add all the ingredients - pre-ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, chilli powder, paprika, garam masala, ginger, garlic, chopped shallots, tomato paste, and salt - to a food processor.

  • Blending: Process until you have a fragrant and well-combined paste. By following these steps, you'll transform your ingredients into a fragrant and well-combined paste, the heart and soul of your delicious homemade curry.


Tips for Customising Your Homemade Curry Paste


The beauty of homemade curry paste lies in its adaptability. Use these tips to create a paste that reflects your taste:


1. Finding Your Perfect Spice Level


The recipe might call for a specific amount of chillis, but feel free to experiment! Here's how to adjust the heat:


Finding Your Perfect Spice Level for your curry paste


  • Mild: For a korma-style curry, omit some or all of the seeds from the chillis. Seeds contain the most capsaicin, the compound responsible for the heat. Alternatively, use milder chillis like jalapeños.

  • Medium: Keep some seeds in the chillis, depending on your preference. Start with a small amount and taste as you go, adding more if desired.

  • Hot: Embrace the heat! Use the recommended amount of chillis, including the seeds. You can even add a touch of cayenne pepper for an extra kick.

  • Pro-Tip: Remember, capsaicin builds over time. Start slow, taste often, and adjust the spice level to your tolerance.


2. Adjusting the Creaminess


Indian curries come in a spectrum of textures, from light and soupy to rich and creamy. For dishes like kormas or butter chicken, a velvety smooth texture is key.


Adjusting the Creaminess for curry paste

Here's how to achieve that decadent creaminess in your curry paste:


The Nutty Option - Cashews: These versatile nuts add a subtle sweetness and richness to your paste. When blended, they release creamy oils that contribute to a luxurious mouthfeel. Simply roast the cashews lightly for a deeper flavour before adding them to the blender.


The Tropical Touch - Coconut Milk: This magical ingredient is a staple in many South Indian curries. Coconut milk offers a unique sweetness and a creamy texture that complements the vibrant spices beautifully. Choose full-fat coconut milk for the richest results.


While cashews and coconut milk add creaminess, it's important to maintain a balance. Too much can overpower the other flavours. Here's a guideline:


  • Start small: Begin with a modest amount of cashews or coconut milk, say ¼ cup for a medium batch of curry paste.

  • Taste and adjust: After blending, assess the texture. If it's not creamy enough, add a little more and blend again.

  • Consider consistency: Cashews offer a thicker consistency, while coconut milk provides a lighter creaminess. Choose the ingredient, or a combination of both, that best suits your desired texture.


3. Quality Ingredients Matter in a Curry Paste


Remember, the quality of your ingredients directly impacts the final flavour. This seemingly simple line about using fresh ingredients holds immense power when it comes to crafting a truly exceptional homemade curry paste.


Quality Ingredients Matter in a Curry Paste

Here's why fresh ingredients elevate your curry paste to new heights:


  • Release of Aroma: Fresh spices are bursting with essential oils, the aromatic compounds responsible for that enticing curry fragrance. As you grind or blend them, these oils are released, filling your kitchen with a symphony of enticing smells.

  • Depth of Flavor: Fresh spices offer a complex and layered flavour profile. Imagine the bright citrus notes of freshly squeezed lime zest compared to the muted version from a dried and pre-ground source. That’s the difference between fresh and stale ingredients.


The Art of Selection


When choosing ingredients for your curry paste, look for:


  • Firm and brightly coloured spices: Whole spices like coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and peppercorns should be firm and have a vibrant colour. Avoid dull or dusty-looking spices.

  • Fresh and plump aromatics: Garlic and ginger should be firm and free of any wrinkles or mould. Fresh herbs like cilantro or curry leaves should be green and fragrant.

  • Vibrant chillis: Look for chillis with a firm texture and bright colour. Avoid any that are wrinkled or discoloured.


While buying fresh spices might seem like a small detail, it makes a world of difference in the final product. Think of it as an investment in flavour. By using fresh, high-quality ingredients, you'll be rewarded with a homemade curry paste that boasts an explosion of aroma and depth of flavour that pre-made pastes simply can't match.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


1: Can I store homemade curry paste?

Yes! Store leftover paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for longer storage.


Here's how to store your creation and enjoy its deliciousness for days or even months to come:


The Short-Term Solution

  • Airtight is the Way to Go: The key to refrigerator storage lies in minimising air exposure. Transfer any leftover paste to an airtight container. This could be a glass jar with a secure lid, a silicone storage container, or even a resealable plastic bag with as much air removed as possible.

  • Embrace the Chill: Place the airtight container in your refrigerator. The cold temperature will slow down the growth of bacteria and help preserve the paste's flavour and aroma.

  • A Week's Worth of Curry Delights: Homemade curry paste can comfortably reside in your refrigerator for up to a week. After that, the quality might start to deteriorate.


The Long-Term Solution

  • Portion Control: For extended storage, freezing is your best friend. However, it's wise to freeze the paste in portion-controlled amounts to avoid multiple thawing and refreezing cycles. This can impact the texture and flavour.

  • Ice Cube Tray Trick: One clever method is to spoon the paste into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, pop out the frozen curry paste cubes and transfer them to a labelled, freezer-safe container or bag.

  • Freeze: Your frozen curry paste cubes can happily live in your freezer for up to 3 months.


By following these simple storage tips, you can ensure that your homemade curry paste stays fresh and flavorful, allowing you to enjoy the fruits of your labour for days or even months to come. So, get creative, experiment with flavours, and embrace the joy of making and storing your own delicious curry paste!


2: What to do when my curry paste is too dry?

The key to fixing a dry curry paste lies in adding moisture. Here are your two main options:


  • Water: This is the most neutral option, perfect if you don't want to alter the overall flavour profile of your paste. Start with a small amount, about a tablespoon of water at a time. Add it gradually while blending or processing the paste.

  • Oil: This option adds a touch of richness and can be especially helpful if your recipe calls for oil anyway. Choose an oil that complements the flavours in your curry paste. For example, coconut oil would be a great choice for a Thai curry paste, while olive oil might be better for an Indian-inspired paste.


By following these tips and using a light touch, you can transform your dry curry paste into a smooth and flavorful base for your delicious homemade curry. So, don't despair! With a little TLC, your curry creation will be back on track in no time.


3: Can I substitute ingredients?

Absolutely! Don't have shallots? Use red onion instead. No fennel seeds? You can omit them or try a pinch of anise seeds for a similar liquorice hint. Remember, these are guidelines, so feel free to adapt based on your preferences and what's available.


While crafting your own curry paste unlocks a world of customisation and flavour exploration, creating an exceptional paste requires fresh ingredients and a bit of practice. For busy weeknights or when you crave the comforting taste of Indian curries, Sobhna's pre-made curry pastes offer a convenient and delicious solution.


Made with high-quality ingredients and inspired by traditional recipes, Sobhna's pastes capture the depth and complexity of flavours you'd expect from a homemade creation. Unlike other store-bought options, Sobhna's boasts a clean label, free from artificial flavours and preservatives, delivering that authentic home-cooked taste you love!


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