This homemade vegan red curry paste is totally vegetarian and packed with Thai spices. Simmer with veggies in coconut milk for a quick and easy dinner!
Also known as the hot kind. Or the hottest, rather. Thai curries are generally pretty hot. I've even done some damage with massaman curry, which is typically one of the milder ones. If you prefer the uber hot end of the hot spectrum, this is the paste for you.
My first experiences with Thai curries took place in restaurants. Not long after that, commercial prepackaged curry pastes used to make these dishes started appearing in supermarkets. They're really a great thing to have around. Mix your paste with coconut milk and throw in veggies and heat, and pretty soon you've got a quick and delicious meal. Kind of brilliant if you ask me. I quickly realized that the supermarket curry pastes left something to be desired in terms of authenticity. After making my own red curry paste, I'm left asking myself how the stuff at the store could get to be so red and have so little heat. I know what made my paste red (cliffhanger: see recipe for answer!) and it's nothing that usually comes without some serious burning at the back of the throat.
You can buy more authentic (i.e., hot) pastes in Asian markets, but watch out because most will contain something you don't want to eat if you follow a meatless regime...usually shrimp paste, fish sauce or the like.
I'm hoping today's post will ease navigation of the Thai vegetarian food world for some of you. Now you can make your own deliciously firey, vegan red curry paste. From there you're just a few cans of coconut milk and some veggies away from something as delicious as you'd get in a Thai restaurant. If that's not enough guidance for you to make dinner by, just hang in there a few days. I'm working on a recipe to help you out.
Update! Here's a few of my favorite vegan red curry recipes to try out:
Thai Red Curry with Tofu and Eggplant
Red Curry Lentils & Cauliflower
Red Curry Basmati Rice & Tempeh Stuffed Acorn Squash
Red Curry Paste
- ½ tbsp. ground coriander
- ½ tbsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 15 dried red chili peppers soaked in water for 15 minutes
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 kaffir lime leaves soak in water for 15 minutes if using dried
- 1 lemongrass stalk coarsely chopped
- 1 shallot
- 1 ½ tbsp. Asian chili paste
- 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro stems
- 1 tbsp. fresh grated galangal could sub fresh ginger
Place coriander, cumin and black pepper in a dry pan over medium heat. Cook, tossing frequently, until spices become fragrant and begin to darken a bit, about 2-3 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.
Place all ingredients, along with spices, into a food processor and blend until a smooth paste is formed.
Transfer to an airtight container.
Recipe makes about ½ cup, which should be sufficient for 5-10 batches of curry, depending on batch size and potency.
Store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or seal it up and stick it in the freezer. An ice cube tray is a great way to freeze batch sized portions, but keep in mind that you might not be able to use that ice cube tray for anything else afterwards.
Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche says
This looks so good! I've made green Thai curry paste in the past but never red. I am very partial to a red Thai curry though so I'll definitely have to try this one!
Alissa Saenz says
Thanks Becca! I'm a huge fan of green too. That's next on my list to make! I hope you enjoy this one :)
Hello! This looks great. Do you have any ideas on how to make a mild version of this? Thanks!
Alissa Saenz says
Hi Jenna! You could try making it without the dried chilies and chili paste. It wouldn't be red, and the flavor would be pretty different, as heat is one of the main characteristics of a red curry, but I bet with all of the other seasonings it would still be tasty. You could also try the massaman curry paste recipe I linked to in the post, you'd still want to cut out or reduce the number of chilies, but since heat isn't as essential to massaman curry you'd end up with something that tastes closer to an authentic Thai curry.
OMGosh... I can’t wait to make this! I guess they would use cochineal to make this more red, but of course that is crushed beetle wings or something! Many thanks for your recipes.
Alissa Saenz says
Very welcome!! I hope you enjoy it!