This is a classic Thai chilli paste, very different from from its Chinese counterpart.
I love its deep, roasted, slightly spicy - slightly sweet flavour. While the traditional version has a lot more oil in it, I have reduced the amount of oil in this recipe considerably, while retaining its punchy flavour.
I use it for my Tom Yum soup, in stir fries, as a salad dressing or as a sandwich spread, as a dip and sometimes even in my eggs. You can use it any way you like, as it is a truly versatile condiment.
Remember to check the Notes section for my top tips.
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- 8 - 10 large, dried red chillies
- 10 whole cloves of peeled garlic
- 1 medium sized onion cut into large pieces
- 2 - 3 tablespoons of Tamarind juice
- Quarter (1/4) teaspoon of salt.3 tablespoons of sugar or jaggery
- Quarter (1/4) cup of vegetable oil
- Cut the chillies and remove the seeds and the pith (the string inside), to reduce the level of spice. (Check notes)
- Dry roast the chillies in a frying pan over medium heat, stirring continuously until they smell smoky and have started to char in some spots.
- Remove from thee pan and set aside to cool.
- Add the garlic and the onions into the same pan and dry roast the mixture, stirring continuously until it is well roasted and charred slightly. Remove the mixture from the pan and allow it to cool.
- Add the roasted chillies + the roasted garlic and onion + the sugar and the tamarind juice into a mixer - grinder and grind to a rough consistency. Add some or all of the oil to achieve the consistency that you prefer (I prefer mine slightly chunky).
- Transfer the ground paste into the pan along with the remainder of the vegetable oil.
- Cook over low-heat, stirring continuously for about 10 - 12 minutes to blend all the flavours together. Cook the mixture until it turns a beautiful deep red in colour.
- Satisfy your palette by tasting and adjust with additional tamarind or sugar to get a perfectly balanced, sweet and spicy sauce. (Check notes for salt).
- Chillies: Opt for the larger flatter chillies that are not as spicy. If you prefer a spicier chilli paste, you can leave some of the seeds in the chillies while cleaning them.
- Mixer-grinder: If you do not have a mixer-grinder, you can also se a traditional mortar and pestle or grind it by hand with a stone grinder.
- Salt: this recipe does not need a lot of salt. You can taste it and adjust it as per your requirement. I usually don't add salt to the paste. However, this is a personal preference,
- Storage: Store in a dry glass jar. It will last in the refrigerator for a month, comfortably. Should you decide to freeze it, it will last for much longer.
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