The first time I heard about Thai Red Curry was from my husband when we met in 2012. He had already travelled to Thailand back then and loved Thai Cuisine. Since I came from a small island in Spain, I didn't know much about Thai food.
When we moved back to Mallorca that same year, we found a Thai restaurant where I tried my first red curry! After that night, I already had a new favourite dish, Thai Red Curry with Tofu. We were having Thai food every week and started making it at home. The store-bought curry paste that you can buy in supermarkets or even online is good enough if you want to make a quick curry at home but there is nothing like homemade red curry paste.
Red curry is normally milder than green curry but spicier than yellow curry. For us, it has the right amount of spiciness for spice lovers and people that tolerate some spice to enjoy.
Our recipe is vegan and gluten-free. Thai red curry is a perfect dinner for a Saturday night. We normally prepare the curry paste on Friday night and leave it ready for the next day. Once the curry paste is ready, cooking the curry takes no longer than 30 minutes.
How to make homemade Red Curry Paste
The key for a delicious Thai Red Curry is the curry paste. You cannot go wrong with homemade red curry paste. All you need are the right ingredients, a good blender and 20 minutes of your time. The deep flavour it will bring to your curry is just not possible to get from a store-bought one. Our red curry paste is vegan and gluten-free, but be aware that sometimes, the paste you buy or get in a restaurant may contain fish sauce or prawn paste.
We love making all our recipes from scratch and curry paste is fun! Have you heard of Massaman Curry? It's another Thai curry and we make our own paste too.
Ingredients for the Curry Paste
- Dried bird-eye chillies. You can use larger chillies as well. This is the main ingredient to give the curry paste a red colour. In order to be able to use more chillies without the paste being too spicy, the chillies need to be deseeded. Using gloves, cut the chillies down the side with scissors, remove the seeds and leave them soaking in water for around 10 minutes. We normally add around 10-15 bird-eyes chillies. The curry comes out spicy but not super spicy. If you prefer mild curries, get larger chillies, as they will be less spicy.
- Coriander Stems. Originally, red curry paste is made with coriander roots, but as we cannot find coriander roots, we use coriander stems. Prepare the coriander steams chopping them into small pieces
- Lemongrass Stalks. One of the most popular ingredients in Thai food. Lemongrass will give your curry proper Thai fragrance and flavour. The part of the lemongrass stalks you need is the bottom part. When you slice it, it has a purple colour inside. Save the green top part for other Thai dishes such as Coconut Curry Soups.
- Shallots. We use finely chopped shallots for our curry paste but white or red onion can be used as well.
- Ginger or galangal. Ginger is the one we use to make the curry paste, it's easier to find and we normally have it at home already. Originally, the curry paste is made with galangal so if you have easy access to it, go for it!
- Kaffir lime leaves and lime juice or kaffir lime zest. Again, we use lime leaves as they are easier to find combined with lime juice to give our curry the limy taste that makes it tangy and delicious. We blend the ingredients with the lime juice and leave the lime leaves for the curry. They can be blended as well, but we prefer them whole inside the curry. If you have kaffir lime, use the zest which is the outer part of the lime and blend it with the rest of the ingredients of the curry paste.
- Garlic. Finely chopped or crushed raw garlic.
- Spices. Our spice blend for the red curry paste contains white and black peppercorns, cumin powder, coriander powder.
- Sea salt. If you want to keep your paste a few days or a week in the fridge, it will stay good for longer if you add salt or sea salt.
To make the red curry paste, simply blend all the ingredients in a food processor or blender for 20-30 seconds or until you have the desired consistency.
It can be frozen and it will last for months in the freezer or you can keep it in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
How to prepare our Thai Red Curry with Tofu once the curry paste is made
If you already have the curry paste prepared or you have some store-bought one, the most challenging part is done. All you need to do now is to heat some coconut oil in a pan and add the curry paste. Leave it cooking for a couple of minutes and then add coconut milk, water, soy sauce, brown sugar, fresh vegetables of your choice and the tofu.
Green and red bell peppers, bamboo shoots, broccoli or carrots are great choices for the red curry.
Thai Red Curry is normally served with jasmine rice. If you add more coconut milk, water, or homemade broth, it can be served as a coconut soup as well with rice noodles. When we prepare red curry paste we make a curry and a few days later we make a coconut soup with the same paste.
Thai Red Curry with Tofu
Red Curry Paste Ingredients
- 10-15 Bird's eye chillis
- 2 tablespoon coriander stems
- 2 lemongrass stalks
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped or crushed
- 2 shallots finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger finely grated
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 teaspoon white peppercorn
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
Thai Red Curry Ingredients
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 tablespoon red curry paste
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 150 ml water
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 5-6 kaffir lime leaves
- Fresh chopped vegetables of your choice.
- 250 g firm tofu
Thai Red Curry Paste - Skip if you have store-bought paste
- Using gloves, cut the chillies down the side with scissors, remove the seeds, finely slice them and leave them soaking while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Cut the bottom half of the lemongrass stalks and finely slice it, you will see it has a purple colour inside, this is the part you need for the curry paste and add them to the blender. Add the garlic, shallots, ginger, lime juice, spices and salt.
- Add the hydrated red chillies to the blender and blend all the ingredients for 30-40 seconds. Keep blending until you have the desired consistency.
- The paste will be ready to use or to keep in the fridge for later use. You can as well freeze it at this point.
Thai Red Curry
- Heat the coconut oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the curry paste, stir and leave it cooking for a couple of minutes while you keep stirring.
- Add the coconut milk, water, soy sauce, brown sugar, kaffir limes and the fresh vegetables of your choice. For this recipe, we use broccoli, red and green bell peppers, bamboo shoots and carrots.
- Cut the tofu into cubes and add them into the curry. Leave simmering for around 20 minutes before serving. If the curry gets too thick, you can add more water or coconut milk.