Khmer Curry Paste

Khmer Curry Paste
Khmer Curry Paste
This image courtesy of Maja Smend

Editor's Note: If you always thought it would be difficult to make your own curry paste, then think again! This recipe for Khmer Curry Paste can be prepared and ready to incorporate in your favorite recipes within about 30 minutes — after all, it only has three steps to the entire preparation process. You'll love the use of flavors in this curry paste, and you will relish the opportunity to learn how to make your own paste. If you'd like, consider making a second batch of this curry paste so you can have it on hand for the next time you plan to make curry. You'll use some of this curry in the recipe for Coconut Ham Curry with Pineapple, which is also by the same author. 

Known as kroeung in Cambodian, this spice paste is the basic ingredient for many dishes. The paste and/or the separate ingredients will keep in the freezer for several months. 

Makes1 cup

Preparation Time30 min




  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 in (5 cm) galangal root, peeled and sliced into shreds
  • 2 in (5 cm) turmeric root, peeled and sliced into shreds
  • 2 in (5 cm) krachai or 6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped (optional)
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, tender inner part of bottom third only, finely chopped
  • 4 small red shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fish paste (prahok), finely chopped


  1. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. 

  2. Add all the ingredients and fry until golden brown. 

  3. Transfer the mixture to a mortar or a food processor and blend into a smooth paste. 


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