I always have a jar of homemade Indian curry paste in the fridge. On those days I really can’t be bothered to cook, and yes even I, a food blogger, have them, it just opens up a whole world of wonderfully quick, tasty dinner options.

We eat a lot of curry dishes at home, particularly over the weekends when less recipe development is going on, that’s not to say I won’t develop these dishes for the blog. My 15-minute Spinach + Chickpea Curry uses this exact spice paste.

Dark grey granite mortar, containing orange curry paste, set against a wooden chopping board

How is Curry Paste Made?

Indian curry paste is a whole bunch of spices and herbs smashed together in a pestle and mortar (or blender). Ordinarily, you’ll start with as many whole spices as possible. For this recipe, I use whole cumin, coriander, mustard and fenugreek seeds. Start by toasting the seeds, toasting the spices releases the aromatic oils and adds a depth of flavour to the dishes that wouldn’t occur if you just added them straight to the pestle and mortar.

It only takes 3 – 5 minutes to toast up the spices, in a dry frying pan. Once the spices are all nice and toasty add them to a pestle and mortar and add any ready ground ingredients, whole ingredients and any pastes that are being used. Then grind them all together using the pestle. Et voila, one curry paste.

There are of course many variations to Indian curry paste, depending on the dish you’re aiming for. Today’s is just a simple paste that can be used whenever you fancy a quick curry.

Granite Mortar containing toasted cumin, coriander, mustard and fenugreek seeds. The mortar is on top of a light wooden chopping board.

How long does homemade Curry Paste keep?

I would recommend using the paste within 4 weeks. Although I have kept a larger batch in the fridge for up to 6 – 8 weeks before now and it was absolutely fine.

Small glass jar containing bright orange curry curry paste, above the glass jar is a tablespoon covered in the curry paste

When to add curry paste?

You should add your paste to your dish before you add any of the sauce ingredients to allow it to cook out, and release its oils, flavours and toastiness to the pan. For a meat curry, add the paste after the chicken is coloured and you see now pinker. If you were making a fish curry, add the paste first, as the fish cooks much quicker. Finally for a vegetable curry, add the paste after the root vegetables are browned and slightly tender.

Homemade Curry Paste Ingredients

The beauty of making your own Indian curry paste is that you can fix it to your own tastes. I’ve added a massive wallop of ginger and garlic to this one, but if that’s not your taste, reduce it. There are also two whole red chillis in my recipe. If you prefer something milder, you can remove the seeds, or omit one of the chillis.

The core ingredients in almost every curry paste though are Coriander and Cumin seeds, garlic and ginger. You’ll also nearly always find Garam Masala too. Garam Masala is a mix of coriander, cumin, cardamom pods, peppercorns and mace, toasted whole and then ground.

From top to bottom, left to right, white circle bowl containing cumin seeds, dark blue circle bowl containing mustard seeds, square bowl containing fenugreek seeds and a circle bowl containing coriander seeds. The bowls are on a wooden chopping board.
On top of a wooden board there are several containers and ingredients for homemade Indian curry paste, they are, from right to left, top to bottom: oval container of cayenne pepper, 2 red chillies, square dish of garlic puree, circular dish of tomato puree, black teaspoon of paprika, dark blue dish of garam masala, white circle dish of ginger puree, circular glass container of sunflower oil

If you’re in the UK (or Europe), I’d highly recommend checking out Red Rickshaw who are a fab online Indian Supermarket where you can get all your herbs, spices, purees and other wonderful foods. If you purchase from Red Rickshaw using the above link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to yourself.

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Dark grey granite mortar, containing orange curry paste, set against a wooden chopping board

Make-ahead Curry Paste

  • Author: JPLongland
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 190 grams 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


My fridge always contains a little pot of curry paste. It’s super tasty and packs a big punch of garlic, ginger and chilli. It makes life super easy when you end up working late, or just really don’t feel like cooking. 



  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons ginger paste
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 red chillies
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil 


  1. Add cumin, coriander, fenugreek and mustard seeds to a dry frying pan. Toast over medium heat until fragrant (3 – 4 minutes). 
  2. Finely chop the red chillies.
  3. Add the toasted seeds to your mortar, along with the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Grind into a smooth paste using the pestle.
  5. If you’re not using immediately, pop the curry paste into an airtight container and refrigerate. The paste will keep for up to a month in the fridge.


Making in a food processor: If you’re not feeling the hard work of a pestle & mortar, you can use a food processor to make your paste. Simply at the wet ingredients first, and then the seeds, pulse to your desired consistency. 

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: curry paste, Indian curry paste, Indian

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