A curry paste is a mixture of spices, processed together to form a smooth, spicy paste - they are used in Indian and Thai cookery and in a wide variety of cuisines from the near and far east. Pastes are made of a combination of many ingredients, and may include: chillies, garlic, coriander, cumin, cloves and turmeric.
The paste can be used as a marinade or added to meat or vegetables as they are cooking. Curry pastes vary in their strength and flavour - start with a mild version if you're not sure how hot you want your curry, and then simply add chopped fresh chilli to spice up your recipe if necessary.
Uses: For making a wide variety of curries and spicy dishes. Add 1 tsp of paste to mayonnaise to give it a kick or mix 1 tsp with some natural yogurt for a delicious dip.
To store: Use homemade paste at once or store in a glass jar with an airtight lid in the fridge for up to 4 weeks. Ready-made paste can be stored in the fridge, once opened, for up to 6 weeks. Curry paste can be frozen - spoon 2-3 tbsp into small plastic containers, cover and seal and freeze for up to 3 months.
A variety of curry pastes are available including:
Hot Madras curry paste
Made with Madras chillies this dark red paste has a particularly fiery flavour and originates from southern India.
Uses: Hot Madras curry paste can be combined with vegetables, pulses or meat to make hot and spicy dishes.
Green Thai curry paste
A mild blend of spices including green chillies, lemon grass, coriander, garlic and lime leaves and juice.
Uses: Especially good for chicken or seafood curries.
Gujarat masala curry paste
This paste is from the northern coastal area of Gujarat where vegetarian food is very popular. Cumin, sesame and mustard seeds are blended to form this hot spice mixture.
Uses: In a variety of vegetable and pulse dishes.
Korma curry paste
A mild curry paste from northern India which is a blend of mild spices such as turmeric and paprika and coconut. Cream and nuts are often added to the blend of spices to produce a rich, creamy result.
Uses: Chicken Korma is particularly popular in Britain, but the blend of Korma spices also goes well with white fish or seafood.
Red Thai curry paste
A hot blend of traditional Thai spices including chillies, red peppers, lemon grass, garlic, ginger and shrimp paste.
Uses: Particularly good in pork or beef recipes.
Tikka curry paste
A richly aromatic mild rich red paste with tamarind and coriander.
Uses: Tikka refers to the cooking method used where chunks of meat are threaded on a skewer, coated in Tikka paste and grilled or barbecued - like a kebab. Chicken, prawns or white fish are most commonly cooked in this way.