Nittaya Thai Curry logo_White

Understanding the Key Ingredients in Thai Curry Paste

Curries are a pivotal part of Thai cuisine. Each type offers unique flavors and heat levels.
The most popular varieties include green, red, and yellow curries.

Green Thai curry, made with green chilies, is typically the spiciest, with a fragrant, herbaceous flavor. Red Thai curry, made with red chilies, has a rich, spicy, and slightly sweet taste. Yellow Thai curry is milder and creamier. It has turmeric and curry powder which give it a pretty golden glow and an earthy taste.

Other varieties like Massaman and Panang curries blend local ingredients with influences from Persian and Malay cuisines.

Table of Contents

How to make thai green curry paste

Common Ingredients in Thai Curry Paste

Here are some of the more typical ingredients combined to make Thai curry paste:


Thai curries use different chilies for distinct heat and specific taste profiles. Green chilies add a fresh, intense heat to green curry, while red chilies deliver a deeper, smoky heat to red curry.

Dried chilies in massaman and panang curries give a rich, complex flavor. Chilies are rich in vitamin C, capsaicin (which boosts metabolism), and antioxidants.


Ginger has warmth and zest which seeps into Thai curry pastes. This adds lovely flavor complexity. It is known for its many health benefits. Ginger contains gingerol, which has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps the digestive system function well and reduces nausea.


Lemongrass has a beautiful citrusy, lemony aroma and taste, essential for Thai curries’ fresh, bright flavor profile. Learn more about lemongrass in Thai cooking. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Nutritionally, lemongrass is a good source of vitamins A and C, which are great for the immune system.

Understanding the Key Ingredients in Thai Curry Paste


Galangal, similar to ginger but with a sharper, more peppery flavor, is crucial for authentic Thai curry paste. This root is also beneficial for digestion and has anti-inflammatory properties. It’s rich in antioxidants and traditionally used to relieve stomach ailments.


Both coriander seeds and fresh coriander (cilantro) are used in Thai curry pastes. The seeds add a warm, nutty flavor, while fresh coriander contributes a fresh, citrusy note. Coriander is a good source of dietary fiber, manganese, iron, and magnesium and has significant antioxidant properties.

Kaffir lime leaves

Kaffir lime leaves and zest add a delicious citrus taste key to the aromatic complexity of Thai curries. They are often finely sliced or bruised to release their essential oils. Kaffir lime is rich in antioxidants and vitamins, particularly vitamin C, which supports the immune system.
Understanding the Key Ingredients in Thai Curry Paste


Garlic adds a pungent, savory depth to Thai curry pastes and elevates the overall flavor. It is well-known and loved for its health benefits, including improving cholesterol levels. Garlic contains allicin, which has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Shrimp paste

Shrimp paste is made from fermented ground shrimp, and it adds a deep umami taste. This balances the spiciness and adds richness to Thai curries. It is a good protein and vitamin B12 source, essential for nerve function and red blood cell formation.

How the Ingredients are Used to Make Curry Paste

To make the Thai curry paste, the ingredients are finely chopped and pounded together to create a smooth, cohesive blend. Chilies are usually the base, providing heat and color.
Aromatics like ginger, lemongrass, and galangal are added in stages with coriander seeds and leaves, kaffir lime leaves, etc. Reaching a balanced blend of flavors is key, along with using high quality ingredients.

How to Use and Store Curry Paste

Thai curry paste is incredibly versatile. It makes a delicious, bright base for many dishes aside from traditional Thai curries. Beyond curry, it can improve the taste of soups, marinades, stir-fries, and even dipping sauces.

To use Thai curry paste, the first step in sautéing the paste is a small amount of oil over medium heat. This step is key as it releases the rich aromas and flavors of the ingredients.

Once fragrant, the protein (like chicken, beef, or tofu) is added, followed by vegetables and liquids such as coconut milk or broth. The amount of paste can be adjusted to suit your preferred heat level and taste intensity.

For storage, the curry paste should be kept airtight in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It can also be frozen for longer storage. Decanting and freezing the Thai curry paste in individual portions makes life easy when using it.

We hope this guide to Thai curry pastes inspires you to whip up delicious, steaming bowls of Thai curry. With Nittaya Thai Curry Paste, we have taken the time and guesswork out of your Thai curry-making so you can get perfect Thai curry at home every time.