Mussaman Curry Paste

This is an easy homemade version of Mussaman curry paste. The aromatic spices in this curry paste reflect the influence of Malaysia and India. Since Mussaman curry paste is hard to find, some cooks use prepared Madras curry paste as a substitute. The aroma of the spices is reminiscent of garam masala.


makes about 1/2 cup

  • 8 small dried red chilies, seeded
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 4 shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh gingerroot (or galangal), coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (white part only), chopped
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. grated lime zest
  • 1 tbsp. water

( Baking Conversion Table )


Place dried chilies in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let it soak for 25 minutes, or until softened. Drain.

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, shallots, ginger (or galangal, if using) and lemongrass. Stir-fry for 4-6 minutes, or until browned and softened.

Add soaked chilies; cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Place the cooled mixture in a blender or food processor. Add coriander, cumin, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, salt, cloves and lime zest. Add water and process until a paste forms. Scrape down sides of the bowl, as necessary. Transfer to a clean container and cover tightly.

make ahead:
Paste can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days or frozen in small portions for up to 3 months.

freezing curry paste:
Transfer curry paste to a small resealable freezer bag and flatten. Freeze.To use, break off the required amount and seal the remaining paste tightly.

Alternatively, place the paste in mounds (about 1 tbsp/15 ml each) on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze, then wrap each mound tightly and store in a resealable plastic bag.

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