Goan fish curry paste

Indian Spice Pastes



Although spices play an integral role in every Indian meal, housewives in India insist on buying whole spices in small quantities because they easily lose their distinctive aromas, especially when exposed to air and kept in hot, humid conditions. Spices may be used raw, but are frequently toasted or fried before further use. When toasting spices, it is preferable to toast them whole and grind them afterwards. Good Indian cooks are skilled at blending ingredients for spice pastes, and individual households take pride in handing family recipes down through the generations. The pastes are best made just prior to cooking, not in bulk, to maximize freshness and flavour.

Paste for Mutton Curry
To make a curry paste for 750 g/1 lb 10 oz cubed mutton or lamb, soak 6 dried chillies in a little warm water until soft, then pound them to a paste using a mortar and pestle. Add 1 tbsp grated fresh root ginger, and grind until well incorporated. In a small bowl, combine 2 tpsp finely chopped onion, 1 tbsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp ground turmeric and ½ tsp ground cinnamon with 1 tbsp tamarind juice to make a paste. Stir in 8 fresh curry leaves, 4 whole cardamom pods (seeds only), 2 tsp salt and the chilli and ginger paste. To use, heat 4 tbsp vegetable oil in a karahi over a low heat. Gently fry the paste for 5 minutes until fragrant and the oil is released.

Mutton curry paste







Paste for pork vindaloo
Soak 6 dried red chillies in hot water until soft; drain. In a mortar, pound the chillies, 5 garlic cloves and 30 g/1 oz fresh root ginger to a paste. In a dry frying pan, toast 3 cardamom pods (seeds only), 1 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 10 black peppercorns, ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg, 4 whole cloves and a 5cm (2 in) piece of cinnamon stick over a low heat for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Grind the spices to a powder, before blending with the onion and garlic paste. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a karahi over a low heat. Fry the spice mixture, stirring continuously, for 4 minutes or until oil comes to the surface. Add 2 tsp salt and 2 tbsp palm vinegar or white wine vinegar. Stir over a low heat until the paste thickens.

Pork vindaloo paste







Paste for goan fish curry
Soak 5 dried chillies in a little water to soften. In a mortar, grind 1 tbsp coriander seeds and 1 tsp cumin seeds until fine. Blend in 1 tbsp paprika and ½ tsp ground turmeric. Remove from the mortar, then grind the soaked chilies with 1 large chopped onion, 3 garlic cloves and 1 tbsp grated fresh root ginger. Add the spice mix, 1 tsp salt and 3 tbsp water. To use, heat 4 tbsp vegetable oil in a karahi over a low heat. Fry the paste for 4 minutes, then add 750 g (1 lb 10 oz) fish.

Goan fish curry paste







Paste for grilled chicken
This paste is suitable for rubbing into 4 skinless chicken joints for grilling. Using a mortar and pestle, grind 1 tbsp grated fresh root ginger and 3 garlic cloves until fine. Add ½ tsp pounded black peppercorns and 1 tsp chilli powder. Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a karahi over a low heat, and gently fry the paste for 4 minutes. Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice. Remove from the heat, leave to cool, then rub the spice paste over the chicken pieces.

Grilled chicken paste