Saturday, January 9, 2010

Yellow Curry Paste and Thai Inspired Broccoli and Tomato

Two weeks ago I bought fresh turmeric root knowing nothing other than it was used in Thai cooking. Today I made a batch of yellow curry paste using some of the fresh turmeric root. In the past when I made yellow curry paste I have used powdered turmeric. With the fresh I used three times as much (as I would do with fresh versus dried herbs) and it worked fine. The fresh turmeric has a much lighter and fresher taste than I expected. I will continue to buy this to use in cooking. It would work fine in any sauce if you tossed it in a blender with the sauce to puree it. Next I need to find out if there is a difference in nutrition between the fresh and dry turmeric. Intuitively I would expect the fresh to contain more antioxidants, that that is just a guess. When I know for certain I will write something about it.

Turmeric is related to ginger and galangal and looks very similar in its fresh form. When you slice into the flesh it is a very different color inside. The turmeric I bought was almost a pumpkin orange color. I was surprised that it wasn’t the bright yellow I was expecting.

Making your own curry paste is very easy to do. Just in case you get inspired to give it a try I wanted to share the recipe. Here it is.

Yellow Curry Paste
Make about 3/4 cup – serving is 1 tablespoon


10 dried red chili (the small slender pointed chilies they sell in the Indian section of the grocery store), deseeded and toasted
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon fresh turmeric root, thinly sliced or 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 stalks lemon grass, hard exterior leaves removed, tender portion very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 head garlic, smashed and peeled


Toast the deseeded dried red chilies in a skillet until they begin to brown (about 2 minutes). Move the chilies to a bowl to cool. When the chilies are cool enough to handle break into small pieces and cover with water and allow to soak for at least 15 minutes.

Toast the cumin and coriander seeds until you can smell the spices, then remove them from the heat. Once the seeds have cooled, place them in a small food processor and process until fine. Add the thinly sliced turmeric, lemon grass, ginger, and garlic cloves. Process the spices. Add the chilies and some of the soaking liquid and process further. Continue to add the soaking liquid until the mixture forms a smooth paste. Alternately you can use a mortar and pestle to make this sauce. I don’t have enough patience to pound the spices that long.

Store the yellow curry paste in a covered jar in the refrigerator. It should last about a month (mine does).

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 35.76
Calories From Fat (32%) - 11.29

Total Fat - 1.35g
Saturated Fat - 0.04g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 8.1mg
Potassium - 199.98mg
Total Carbohydrates - 6.04g
Fiber - 2.14g
Sugar - 0.07g
Protein - 1.31g


This is a milder curry than the traditional red curry paste but it still has a punch straight. I add it to curries a little at a time and adjust the flavor (through quantity) after it has cooked for at least 5 minutes.

Today I used the yellow curry paste to make a quick broccoli and tomato dish in a coconut sauce. Traditional Thai. Not even close I am certain. But it was quite tasty.

I chose to use broccoli and tomatoes since when consumed together they are more powerful nutritionally. We eat a lot broccoli and tomatoes so I am always looking for different ways to use them together. The coconut milk is traditional in Thai cooking. I keep kaffir lime leaves in the freezer to use when I am in a Thai food mood. Then I use my kitchen scissors to thinly slice the lime leaves very thinly. I think the frozen leaves work just as well as the fresh. Here is what we had for lunch.

Thai inspired Broccoli and Tomatoes
Serves 4


1 red onion, peeled and cut into large dice
¼ cup water to saut√© the onion
14 ounce can of light coconut milk
1 tablespoon yellow curry paste, or to taste (I used approximately 1 tablespoon)
2 kaffir lime leaves, cut into very thin slivers
14 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups frozen broccoli, defrosted and cut into bite size pieces
hot cooked brown basmati rice to serve under the curry


Water sauté the onion until almost tender. Add the coconut milk, curry paste, kaffir lime leaves, and tomatoes and simmer for at least 5 minutes. Taste the sauce for flavor and adjust the yellow curry paste as desired. Add the broccoli and cook until tender crisp. Serve the curry hot over the hot rice cooked brown rice.

Nutritional Information (does not include the brown rice since quantity is variable):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 135.18
Calories From Fat (49%) - 65.93

Total Fat - 6.76g
Saturated Fat - 5.06g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 182.67mg
Potassium - 568.61mg
Total Carbohydrates - 15.42g
Fiber - 6.78g
Sugar - 4.49g
Protein - 5.81g


This is a very mild dish, but it has a wonderful fragrant flavor from the kaffir lime leaves. Both the hubby and I liked this Thai inspired dish. Each serving of the broccoli and tomatoes contains 2,250IU of vitamin A, 100mg of vitamin C, 130mg of calcium, 115mg of folate, 130mcg of vitamin K, 105mg of phosphorus, 45mg of phosphorus and 5mcg of selenium.

Once the curry paste is made this is a very quick meal. You can use any veggie that you like in this sauce. It would be great with mushrooms and I have even added cucumber at the very end to this sauce so that it was warm but still had body.

Unrelated note:

Today has been scattered at our house. My husband ordered the new Google phones and has been very taken with them. Much of the day he has had his in face in a phone or the phonebook size manual of the phone instructions. He says it will help me be more connected. We will see if that is true or not. First I have to figure out how to use the thing. At the moment it seems a little mystical to me.

I have no idea what I am making for dinner tonight. Maybe baby artichokes, I haven’t exactly decided. If it isn’t too late I will be back tonight with another recipe.

I hope you are all having a great day. Talk to you again soon.


  1. The curry sounds wonderful; very aromatic. Thanks for the info about turmeric...I had no idea it was in the ginger family. I'm going to look for some fresh next time I'm at Whole Foods.

  2. Ooh, curry paste is one of my latest obsession, but I've never tried making my own. I'll have to give that a try!

  3. Rose,

    Once I used the fresh turmeric it was much less intimidating than I had originally thought. It is very easy to slice, like an orange fleshed ginger. Since I bought organic I cleaned the exterior but left the skin on, just like I do with organic ginger.

    I have seen it at our local Wegman's (which I know you don't have) but also at our large Asian market.


  4. Anna,

    Curry paste is very easy you should try it. Once I learned how to make it I haven't bought it since.


  5. So creative! I adore Thai food and haven't been able to enjoy it in restaurants as they add sugar--would love to make this curry paste and dish!

  6. Ricki,

    I am so glad you like the idea of it. We love Thai food too but it seems to always contain either sugar or oil. This is my attempt to keep but the complexity of flavor but make it healthy. I hope you like it too.


  7. hey Alicia! new phones are always a little hard to get used to...but a phonebook sized manuel????good luck:)walters like that also, i actually caught him SMELLING new electronics..when confronted he actually admitted he likes the SMELL of new electronic stuff.nerd,lol

  8. Michelle,

    The hubby just informed me we have the Google Nexus One that came out last Wednesday. He didn't waste any time did he? He also tells me I exaggerated the manual is only 320 pages.

    We will see if you can actually make a phone call with it. So far it is just still on a table waiting for me to turn it on. It does have beautiful graphics.


  9. Thank you so much for posting this! I'm going to hunt for fresh turmeric now.

  10. Kristi,

    You are very welcome! I was pleasantly surprised by how easy fresh turmeric was to work with. It is definitely something I will continue to buy.


  11. If you like cookiing Thai food, may I recommend this site

  12. Hamster,

    Thanks for the link. I will definitely check it out.



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