2 dried long red chilies, about 13 cm/5
1 tablespoon cilantro (coriander) seeds
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
5 cm/2 inches piece of galangal, grated
1 lemon grass stalk, only white part,
2 Asian shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1 teaspoon grated turmeric or a pinch of
½ teaspoon ground cassia or cinnamon
Using a small frying pan, dry-roast the
cilantro (coriander) seeds for about 1 minute until fragrant, then
remove from the pan. Repeat with the cumin seeds. Use a pestle and
mortar, grind them both to a powder.
Remove the stems from the chilies and slit
the chilies lengthways with a sharp knife. Discard the seeds. Soak the
chilies in hot water for about 1 to 2 minutes or until soft. Drain the
water and chop roughly.
Using a pestle and mortar, pound the chilies
salt, galangal, lemon grass, shallots, garlic and turmeric to as smooth
a paste as possible. Add the shrimp paste, ground cilantro, cumin and
cassia and mix until the mixture forms a smooth paste.
Alternately, use a small processor or
blender to blend all the ingredients into a very smooth paste. Add a
little cooking oil, as needed, to ease the grinding.