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Top view of Panang curry paste in a mortar and pestle.

Authentic Thai Panang Curry Paste

Learn how to make this authentic Panang Curry Paste recipe from scratch! Full of fragrant herbs and warm toasted spices, this Thai curry paste is way better than store bought.
Course Base
Cuisine Thai
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes
Servings 1 jar
Calories 703kcal
Cost $15



Other Ingredients


  • Slice the top off large and small chillies and remove the seeds. If using fresh chilli: chop finely. If using dried chilli: Slice into small rings and soak in water for 40 mins to soften. Drain and squeeze out all the liquid (use gloves to avoid getting spicy chilli on yourself). Chop finely and set aside.
    10 large dried red chillis, 10 dried red thai chillis
  • In a medium frying pan, gently toast all spices over a low to medium heat for a 1-2 minutes, starting with the biggest and gradually adding in the others, through to the smallest. Order should be cinnamon, star anise, cardamom pods, cloves, coriander seeds, whole black pepper seeds and finally cumin seeds.
    1 cinnamon stick, 2 star anise, 10 cardamom, 10 whole cloves, 2 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • Place all the toasted spices in a stone mortar and pestle, grind into a fine powder. Remove from mortar and pestle and set aside. Note: You can speed things up and use a spice grinder here, but a mortar will give you the best result.
  • Add the remaining ingredients in the mortar and pestle - in sequence so that the most fibrous ingredients are added first - lemongrassgalangal (or ginger), kaffir lime rindkaffir lime leaves, soaked large dried chillies (or fresh), soaked small dried chillies (or fresh), crushed peanutscoriander root, shallotsgarlic and finally shrimp paste. This will help you to achieve a smooth consistency. Note: You can speed things up and use a food processor here, but a mortar will give you the best result. If using a processor, you may need to add a little vegetable oil to help everything mix.
    2 tbsp coriander seeds, 3 stems lemongrass, 2.5 cm galangal, 2 tsp Thai makrut / kaffir lime fruit rind, 6 Thai makrut / kaffir lime leaves, 10 large dried red chillis, 10 dried red thai chillis, 4 coriander root, 5 tbsp crushed peanuts, 5 shallots, 10 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp Thai shrimp paste
  • Use a spoon to scrape the ingredients from the side of the mortar and pestle down to the centre as you go. Tip: If you have a small pestle, break up the mix into portions to make it easier when grinding the paste together.
  • Finally add the spice powder and continue to pound until you obtain a smooth paste.



  • Chillies - Fresh chillies also works.
  • Thai Mukrut / Kaffir Lime - Fresh leaves are best for this recipe. You can also find them dried, frozen or in a jar at Asian and local supermarkets. Sub with the zest of one lime. They may be labelled as kaffir lime, makrut or Thai lime leaves. The best name to use is makrut.
  • Spices - Most spices will be available at the supermarket nowadays, or head to your Asian grocery store.
  • Crushed Peanuts - Go for unsalted crushes peanuts - these will sometimes be in the baking section in the supermarket, or at an Asian grocer. You can also buy whole peanuts and crush them yourself. Sub with cashews for a creamier, lighter nutty result.
  • Shrimp Paste - Sub with fish sauce, or if you're vegan use salt instead.
  • Galangal - This is a very hard root spice. Try to find the lightest colour, or youngest as it's much easier to cut and less fibrous. Find them fresh at your local Asian grocer and use a large cleaver or very sharp knife to help cut it finely. Sub with ginger in a pinch, although this is a different flavour.
  • Garlic - Use fresh garlic instead of minced.
  • Lemongrass - You can find whole and chopped lemongrass at most Asian and local supermarkets. Sub with the zest of one lemon per lemongrass stick, note this will give you a different flavour.
  • Coriander Roots - You'll usually find fresh coriander root in the bunches at your local Asian grocer or market. If you can't find them, sub with the stems and a few leaves. Make sure to give them a good wash before chopping!
  • Storage - Place paste in ice cube trays, seal up in a plastic bag and freeze overnight. The next day, pop out the cubes and place in an airtight container. Homemade curry paste will last up to 6 months in the freezer (or up to about two weeks in the fridge).
  • Chop Finely - Chopping all your fresh herbs and chillies as finely as possible before popping them in the mortar and pestle will make things SO much easier. That way you’ll end up with a creamy smooth-textured paste at the end with half the work.
  • Sit With Your Mortar & Pestle - Place your mortar on the floor and sit cross legged beside it. Yep! This will give you maximum power and assistance from gravity. Grab your pestle and hold it with your thumb pressed on the top. Then bang away, letting the pestle fall with a flick of your wrist. You actually need less effort here than you think – just let gravity do all the work for you! Meanwhile use a spoon to scoop the ingredients back down into the centre well of the mortar. 


Serving: 10g | Calories: 703kcal | Carbohydrates: 86g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 171mg | Sodium: 605mg | Potassium: 1936mg | Fiber: 30g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 2886IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 614mg | Iron: 21mg