You’ve probably noticed, that for me, cooking is a journey thing and not a destination thing. Nothing epitomises this more than making your own curry pastes. I love the experience of sourcing the spices and getting inside tips from Asian grocers. It has also driven much of the layout of my kitchen garden so I can get the freshest ingredients. There is also the thrill of a covert dash to get new kitchen kit purchases into the cupboard undetected, so I can tell my wife ‘no that isn’t new, I have had it for ages’. Ha!
By not buying your pastes you get to:
- have a pleasant and calming experience;
- control of the ingredients’ quality;
- use less salt and preservatives;
- help the environment by eliminating a lot of packaging.
I want to share with you some of my curry making kitchen kit and I also have some handy hints for you.
Paste Making Tips:
- Use whole spices and just before you mill them, dry roast them in a hot pan, keeping them moving the whole time. Experiment a bit, with the goal being more the release of the spices’ aromas in my opinion, rather than a change in their appearance. Safe to say that if the smoke alarm goes off, you have dry roasted them too long or too high :).
- Try and use as much ingredients from your garden as possible, harvesting what you need just before making the paste to lock in the freshness.
- Cooking is a lot about chemistry and the interactions between ingredients. As an example, I implore you to add chillies to your pastes and curries etc as you cook and not just as you serve dishes. I use kasmiri chilli because it is high on flavour and low on heat because my wife doesn’t like the heat.This way the dish will hit all the right notes but let people tweak it the way they like it on the table.
- Whilst not as economical as bulk purchases, try and buy whole spices in quantities that you will go through quickly. For some spices this might mean very small packets. You could always go in together with some friends to get the bulk discount. The idea is not to have the spices sitting for to long in you cupboard losing their aroma.
- Grinders are better than bladed mixers because the former doesn’t generate heat and hence doesn’t cook the ingredients. I use short bursts and pauses when using my bladed mixers to overcome this.
Dry spice mixer
I would really like a combination wet/dry mixer but they can cost an arm and a leg. So I have bought one of each type instead. I use a Breville Spice/Coffee grinder to mill my freshly roasted whole spices. I never use it for coffee now to prevent taste cross over.
I have had several blenders over the years but the best so far has been the Nutribullet. I was shocked when it worked as well as the TV adverts said it would. It is pretty powerful but the draw cards are that it comes with a small jug and one of the blade attachments curves down and then up.
This is important because even though most curry pastes freeze well, I generally make them in very small one meal batches. The low profile blade mixes all of the ingredients even for small volumes of ingredients.
This is by far the best juicer I have ever owned. I needed something easy to use because we have a massive lime tree and an equally productive lemon tree in our kitchen garden. Given how many I go through every week and not having the space for a electric juicer, I hunted high and low for a solution. This beastie makes short work of lemons and even the biggest of limes. The power is in the concave presses and the long handles.
I bought it from Kitchen Warehouse but I can’t remember how much it was other than it being enough to make me wonder if it was worth it before I tried it. It sure is though :).
Please let me know if you have any tips or favourite curry paste making kit and I will give it a try 🙂