Curries are a simple and easy way to get dinner on the table fast. That is, as long as you have a curry paste. There are as many different kinds of curry pastes as there are people who make them. And just as many levels of heat to each paste. You can make your own paste easily enough - although it is a little time consuming. When you do make a curry paste there are a few things to keep in mind:
You want to get your paste as smooth as possible. A food processor works well as long as you process the paste long enough. A blender is better.
Make a lot for three reasons: (a) Your machine will work better (meaning it will actually move the food around and will be able to process the ingredients) if you have enough stuff in there. If you have a few tablespoons of stuff in the machine, you are making it very difficult on yourself and the appliance. (b) You don't want to go through making it again any time soon; it is time consuming. (c) The extra paste doesn't take up that much room in your freezer, especially if you divide it into serving amounts and tuck them in here and there.
Thai curry pastes usually have these ingredients in common:
chilies (the amount and type will determine the level of heat in your paste), lemongrass, kaffir leaves, onion, vinegar, garlic, ginger (or galangal), coriander seeds
Optional ingredients range from:
cumin seeds, cilantro, peanuts, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.
For my Thai Winter Curry, I used a basic red curry paste (The color depends on the chilies you use. If you use fresh green chilies you will have green chili paste.) I have an assortment of winter veggies in my curry: onion, cabbage, cauliflower, butternut squash, tofu, spinach and, of course, the coconut milk. To cut the fat I also used vegetable broth, but make sure you don't make curry soup instead by not using enough coconut milk.
Since I had the curry paste in the freezer, dinner was ready in under 30 minutes.
cabbage, cauliflower: $3
butternut squash: $2
paste, tamari, lime, sugar: $1.25
spinach, pepper: $3
Total to make 6 servings: