Chili Paste


I’ve introduced a fair amount of recipes that use chili paste, so I decided to share this recipe. This is my grandma’s chili paste recipe, and she has used this recipe since forever, so I don’t know what other chili pastes there are out there. Chili paste is incredibly useful and can be considered a staple for many dishes. It is used in laksa, mee siam, assam curry – basically, anything vaguely spicy has chili paste in it.

Traditionally, people have used a mortar and pestle to pound the spices. The tradionalists say that this gives a better aroma and texture to the chili paste. However, we use a food processor to blend everything up. So far, no complaints yet. So, try the mortar and pestle at your own risk. I am the mortar/pestle type person, but for this amount of chili and spices, I would highly recommend something electric.

Ingredients (measurements are approximate)

  • 1/2 kg dried chili, soaked for 1 hour
  • 9 large fresh chili
  • 5 stalks lemongrass
  • 1/4 kg shallots
  • 1/4 kg candlenuts
  • 1 fist-sized ginger
  • 1 fist-sized galangal
  • 2 finger-sized pieces tumeric root
  • 3 heads garlic (not cloves!)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • water
  • 1 cups cooking oil (more or less as needed)


Boil the soaked dried chili for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Drain away the water.

Cut the fresh chili, lemongrass, shallots, candelnuts, ginger, galangal, tumeric root and garlic into smaller pieces so that they can go in the food processor/blender.


Process/blend the drained dried chilis, fresh chilis, lemongrass, shallots, candlenuts, ginger, galangal, tumeric root and garlic until the ingredients form a puree. Do it in multiple batches if needed. Add water to aid processing/blending if needed.


Pour the pureed ingredients in a large frying pan. (I have three different colors because I blended things in three batches with different combinations of ingredients in each batch.)

Turn the heat on high, and fry the puree to remove any moisture. When there is less water, turn the heat down, but continue frying. The puree will now look like a thick paste. (Takes between 10-20 minutes.)


When the puree starts looking like a paste, add oil and turn up the heat. Stir continuously and fully incorporate the oil into the paste.

Add salt and sugar to taste, and continue frying until a very consistent texture is achieved.

Remove from heat and let cool.

When cooled, place the chili paste in glass bottles. Use within two weeks, or freeze in the freezer for three months.



3 responses to “Chili Paste

  1. Pingback: Assam Sotong (Tamarind Curry with Squid) | emylogues·

  2. Pingback: Assam Ayam (Tamarind Curry with Chicken) | emylogues·

  3. Pingback: Grandma’s Chili Prawns | emylogues·

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