If you look through this blog you will notice that I make quite a lot of spicy food, I can’t help myself, I love it. Some find working with spice quite scary, as if it is a dark art, or they look at the ingredients list for an authentic curry and move on because it is so long. Actually, if you follow a trusted recipe exactly then spice is extremely easy to cook with, and of course the more you cook with it the more you will understand it.
To cut out some of the preparation I always have a stock of pre-made pastes in the freezer. They freeze extremely well and the flavours intensify the longer you leave them. This is one of my favourites, a flavour-packed, vibrant paste that isn’t too hot. It is great used anywhere a recipe specifies a store-bought masala or balti paste.
RECIPE – Makes 8 tbsp
1 tsp cumin seeds, dry-fried and ground
1 tsp coriander seeds, dry-fried and ground
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
a big thumb of fresh ginger, finely chopped, or 2 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp groundnut oil
2 tbsp tomato puree
a handful of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
First, dry-fry the cumin and coriander seeds in a heavy bottomed pan for a minute or so until they give off a delicious aroma, allow to cool then grind well using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder reserved just for grinding spices.
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth puree. The coriander won’t chop up finely enough to disappear but that’s no problem.