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Massaman Curry Paste

Adapted closely from True Thai, Victor Sodsook


  • 3 oz dried New Mexico chile peppers stemmed and seeded and soaked in hot water
  • seeds from 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1 1/2 t whole cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 T whole coriander seeds
  • 2 t shrimp paste wrapped in a double layer of foil
  • 1/4 t whole black peppercorns
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 thick stalk of lemon grass outer leaves peeled away, trimmed to 5 inches and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 T finely chopped galangal peel first
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots


  1. Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. First toast the coriander seeds for about 30 seconds and then add the cumin seeds. Toast until darkened and fragrant, a matter of seconds. Dump into a small bowl to cool off.
  2. Toast the foil wrapped shrimp paste in the same skillet, a few minutes per side. It also will become fragrant.
  3. Use a spice grinder and grind the cooled whole spices until fairly fine. In the meantime, dump the galangal and lemongrass into the wet dry grinder and grind for about 30 seconds. Then add everything else, including the shrimp paste and ground spices, and grind to make a puree. You will probably need to add some of the chile pepper soaking water.

  4. Only grind until it is a fine, smooth and silky puree but not hot, otherwise you will start to cook the paste.

Recipe Notes

See here for how to make a curry paste without a wet dry grinder