Keralan curry paste

Keralan curry paste
  • Serves icon Makes 470g
  • Time icon Takes 45 minutes to make

This aromatic south Indian curry paste can be used in a variety of ways. Use it in Debbie Major’s fabulous Keralan stir-fried cabbage with spiced chicken kebabs.


  • 75g of shredded fresh coconut (or 4 heaped tsp of desiccated coconut)
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 5cm cinnamon stick
  • 12 cloves
  • Seeds from 8 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 6 dried red Kashmiri chillies (from Waitrose)
  • 25g macadamia or cashew nuts
  • 10-12 small, roughly chopped shallots (or 300g of onions)
  • 50g chopped fresh ginger
  • 6 fat garlic cloves
  • 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1tsp salt


  1. Heat a dry, heavy-based frying pan over a low-medium heat. Add the coconut and stir for 5 minutes until richly golden. Tip onto a plate and leave to cool.
  2. Add the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds to the pan and shake around for a few seconds until they darken and smell aromatic.
  3. Tip the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds into a spice grinder, add the cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom seeds, black peppercorns, ground turmeric and paprika and Kashmiri chillies, then grind to a powder.
  4. Add the macadamia or cashew nuts and grind again. Tip into a food processor. Add half the toasted coconut to the spice grinder and grind it finely. Add to the food processor and repeat with the remainder.
  5. Add the shallots or onions, ginger, garlic cloves, vegetable oil and 1 tsp salt and process to a smooth paste.

You can use this recipe in the Keralan stir-fried cabbage with spiced chicken kebabs.

delicious. tips

  1. Spoon into an ice-cube tray, then freeze. Pop the cubes into a plastic bag and freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost at room temperature. (1 ice cube yields 1 tbsp.)

    The paste will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks (cover the surface with a thin layer of vegetable oil).


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