Cooking Curry At Home? Give These Thai Pastes A Try

In Thai, gaeng refers to the renowned curry paste that is known around the world. An essential component of Thai cooking, Thai curry paste is well-known for its spicy heat, aromatic spices, and bold flavours. This multipurpose paste has its roots in Thailand and is used as a base for many different Thai meals. It goes well with soups, stir-fries, marinades, curries, and more. Thai curry paste stands out due to its unique combination of aromatics, fresh herbs, and spices that are carefully blended to produce a balanced flavour profile. It can be red, green, or yellow in colour, with green curry being the spiciest and yellow being the mildest. 

Types of Curry Paste 

Panang Curry Paste (Nam Prik Kaeng Phanaeng) 

Panang curry, a popular Thai curry dish that takes its name from the Malaysian island of Penang, is made with Panang curry paste, a kind of Thai curry paste. The distinctive flavour profile of this curry paste sets it apart from other Thai curries; it is rich, savoury, and somewhat sweet. Panang curry paste is made with a few components, including dried red chilli peppers—which give it a mild to medium heat—lemongrass, galangal, garlic, shallots, coriander roots, masarut lime zest, cumin seeds, peanuts and prawn paste. 

Jungle Curry Paste (Prik Gaeng Pa) 

Northern Thai jungle curry paste has a hot taste profile from fresh green or red chilies combined with regional herbs and spices including prawn paste, galangal and lemongrass. Unlike other Thai curries, this hearty concoction captures the essence of the area's wild vegetables. The main ingredients that give this curry paste its distinct flavour and perfume are the zest of makrut limes, garlic, shallots, fingerroot, and peppercorns. 

Massaman Curry Paste (Prik gaeng massaman) 

One of Thailand's most iconic curry pastes is prik gaeng massaman. In contrast to the majority of curry pastes, the most of the ingredients in this one are first fried or roasted before being mashed or pounded. Cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, dried spicy peppers, galangal, garlic, lemongrass, peppercorns, shallots, kaffir lime zest, salt, mace, nutmeg and prawn paste are typical ingredients for the paste. 

Green Curry Paste (Gaeng kiew wan)

The green curry paste from Thailand is called gaeng kiew wan. While recipes may vary, the standard ingredients include green chilli peppers, coconut milk, coriander, ginger, cumin, onions, white pepper, palm sugar, garlic, holy basil, and grated kaffir lime peel. Spicy green curries are made by mashing the ingredients into a paste using a mortar and pestle. The paste is then added to a variety of dishes, including fish, meat, chicken, eggplants, basil, and sometimes even fruit. 

Red Curry Paste (Phrik kaeng phet) 

The red curry paste from Thailand is called phrik kaeng phet. The traditional ingredients are shallots, garlic, red chilli peppers, prawn paste, coriander, cumin, peppercorns, salt, nutmeg, lemongrass and grated kaffir lime peel; however, there are variants on this. Red curries are made by mashing the ingredients into a pulp using a mortar and pestle. These curries typically include pork, beef, prawns, duck or eel, as well as pumpkin, bamboo shoots and Thai basil. 

Yellow Curry Paste (Nam prik gaeng karee) 

Thai curry paste, also known as nam prik gaeng karee, is yellow in colour. There are different versions of this dish, typically prepared with yellow chilli peppers, shallots, galangal, garlic, lemongrass, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, prawn paste, fish sauce, turmeric, white pepper, brown sugar, coconut milk, tomatoes and lime juice. Yellow curry is made by blending the components into a homogeneous paste. It is typically made using beef, lamb, chicken, potatoes, onions, and pineapple.