What’s the first thing you do when you’re all settled in your new home – take a bath, watch some TV, start googling styling tips? For me it’s restocking the fridge. 57 days out of our old place and now that we’re in a completely new country – the fridge takes top priority. Sourdough starters to be fed. Master stocks need to be started from scratch. Curry pastes need to be made and frozen.
If you’ve never made your own curry pastes before, don’t be dissuaded. Taste aside, it’s much easier and less time consuming than you might think. But don’t take it from me, here are some words from the book –
“If you’ve got the time and inclination, it’s well worth having a go, and each recipe produces enough for a few curries. Once you’ve made it, you can store a curry paste in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of weeks or freeze them in portion sizes. That said, commercial curry pastes these days are good and it’s completely understandable why you’d turn to them.
Once you’ve tasted the difference though, you might never want to go back and you’ll want to convert your friends as well.”
That’s it. I do want to convert you.
I’ve listed the curry paste ingredients here, separate from the curry. It can be a little overwhelming to make curry paste, then curry in a day – it’s a long list of ingredients, lots of steps. But the curry paste itself, it’s easy. Chuck your aromatics in a pan, roast them in a moderate oven then blitz it all up in a food processor. It’ll take you a bit over an hour and for half of that you’ll be able to sit on the couch. Promise.
I need to say also Chin Chin is probably my favourite recipe book of all time. Benjamin says in his introduction that he hopes that the book becomes part of your kitchen – that the pages are dog-eared and stained with god knows what. Mine is a permanent fixture in my kitchen, well on it’s way to that happy fate. I also have a signed coffee table edition for guests to browse after dinner, but I’m pedantic like that.
Try this recipe and I’m sure you’ll want to buy a copy of the book too.
p.s. This makes a great vegetarian curry, though if your friends are on the stricter side, you’ll need to remember to leave out the gapi/belacan.
- ½ cup turmeric
- 3 heads (bulbs) garlic, peeled
- 3-4 shallots
- 1 stalk of lemongrass (pale part only), chopped
- ½ bunch coriander root
- 1½ tbsp gapi/belacan (shrimp paste)
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup chipotle in adobo
- ½ cup large dried red chillies, soaked, seeded
- 1½ tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- large pinch of salt
- ½ cinnamon quill
- Put tumeric, garlic, shallot, lemongrass, coriander and gapi/belacan in a roasting pan, add ½ cup of water and roast in a 160C oven until fragrant and the water has evaporated.
- In a food processor, (I used a blender because the food processor was too big) blitz the roasted ingredients, chipotle and dried chilli to a paste. I'd recommend adding only half the dried chillies first as some of the imported dried chillies, especially Thai ones are lethal.
- Grind the coriander, cumin seeds and cinnamon. Add to the paste with a large pinch of salt and the other half of the dried chillies, if you wish. The curry paste should have a balanced aroma of fresh ingredients with an endnote of the dry spices. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze in portions.