Thai Red Curry Paste (Nam Prik Gaeng Ped)
This recipe and others can be found in the 12-part illustrated series "A World of Curries". You can read all about this unique Indian flavor here.
10 small dried red chiles, such as piquins, stems removed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 small onions
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh basil or mint leaves
1 teaspoon salt
3 2-inch stalks lemongrass, including the bulb
1 1-inch piece of galangal, peeled
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon shrimp paste
1 tablespoon corn or peanut oil
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/4 cup water
Soak the chiles in water for 20 minutes to soften, then remove and drain. Roast the coriander and cumin seeds for about 2 minutes in a dry skillet, and when they are cooled, grind to a fine powder in a spice mill.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree into a fine paste. Store it in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator.