Having stumbled across a ‘memory box’ from my travels whilst on a post-graduation clear out, I found myself feeling both inspired and nostalgic. In it I came across train tickets, rambling journals and a handbook full of recipes from the Thai cooking course I did in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Add to that the fact I was helping a friend prepare a Thai feast yesterday, and I couldn’t help but be transported back to hot, sticky afternoons in Thailand, sipping freshly squeezed lemon juice and lazily gorging upon the exquisite offerings from the street stalls – pad thai, tom yum soup and my favourite: Gaeng Kiaw Wan (‘sweet green curry’). 

There really is something so satisfying about making curry paste from scratch, grinding up all the fresh, aromatic ingredients yourself – it's a sense of gratification that a shop-bought curry paste simply can’t provide. Ideally, it’s best to get your ingredients from an authentic Thai supermarket; but, if you don’t have one all that handy, your local supermarket should have everything you need. In fact, the beauty of this slightly improvised version is that it’s more accessible for every-day cooking, and with such easily available ingredients you can pretty much whip it up anytime you fancy – so there's no excuse to use the jarred stuff! 


  • fresh red chillis, 4
  • lemon grass, 3 stalks
  • whole coriander seeds, 1tbs
  • ground cumin, 1tsp
  • cloves of garlic, 6
  • small red onion, 1 tsp
  • peanut butter, 2 tbs
  • galangal, 2.5 cm
  • shrimp paste, 1tsp


Chop up your ingredients into small, manageable chunks. Starting with the lemongrass, garlic, galangal and chillies, grind them up to as much as a pulp as possible so that you release all the aromatic flavours. Then add in your coriander seeds making sure to really crush them up. The onion will be more difficult to crush up, so I did it separately before adding it to the mixture. Then mix in your shrimp paste, peanut butter and cumin. Voila! It’s ready to use.

Originally published here on The Hungry Romantic blog, July 2014.