Yellow Curry Paste

Prik Kaeng Leuang

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    ¾ cup

    paste pounded, slightly more if blended (easier in blender if doubled)

Appears in

This is the simplest Thai curry paste to make. In southern Thailand, the bright yellow rhizome turmeric shows its color in many dishes. When cooked with the shrimp curry recipe, it may impart the look of an Indian curry, but the lemongrass fragrance gives away the fact that this is Thai all the way.

Some Thai families like to use this curry paste with thin strips of chicken. Freshwater fish and seafood also work well, and these curries benefit from the addition of bite size slices of pineapple. This makes enough paste for a couple of batches of curry.


  • ¼ cup (¼ oz. / 7 g.) Dried Long red chilies, remove stems and seeds
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 stalks Lemongrass, trimmed and sliced very thin, about V16 inch (.1 cm.)
  • 1 tsp. Ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. Cilantro root, minced or 1 Tbsp. minced cilantro stems
  • 1 tsp. Kaffir lime zest or 2 tsp. shredded kaffir lime leaves
  • 4 Shallots, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp. Thai shrimp paste (gkapi), toasted


  1. Soak chilies in ½ cup room temperature water for 30 minutes; drain, reserving soaking liquid. Squeeze out excess moisture from the chilies; set aside.

Make the Curry Paste

  1. Using a Mortar: Begin by pounding chilies and salt until semi-smooth. Add lemongrass, turmeric, cilantro root, and lime zest; pound until lemongrass disintegrates. Add garlic and shallots; pound until a smooth even yellow curry paste is achieved. Pound in toasted shrimp paste. (See for more on using a mortar and pestle.)

    Using a blender (Much easier with double batch): Chop chilies roughly. Place all ingredients into the blender vessel this order: shallots, garlic, salt, lime zest, chilies add ½ cup chili soaking liquid. Puree until semi-smooth, scraping sides down often to stir in stray bits. BE PATIENT: resist adding more water than needed to make it puree faster. Once semi-smooth, add lemongrass, turmeric, cilantro root, lime zest, and shrimp paste. Grind until very smooth (at least 3 minutes to achieve a bright color).

  2. Transfer to smallest possible container, press small swatch of plastic wrap on surface; store in refrigerator. The fresher it’s used the better, but it is fine for cooking up to one month.