Lemongrass Turmeric Curry Paste Recipe

A bit about this favorite curry paste - it's vibrant, electric yellow in color, and intensely flavored. Made with a shallot base coupled with ginger, and garlic, turmeric, and serrano chiles, it's the sort of thing you can use to make a broth, or flare out simple preparations like scrambled eggs or fried rice.

Lemongrass Turmeric Curry Paste

I thought I'd share a recipe that I find myself making in increasingly large batches. It's a favorite curry paste, and I keep a small container of it, fresh, in my refrigerator. I keep backup containers in the freezer. And, I make extra to hand off to pals. Actually, let me back up a bit. Those of you who are regular readers know I tend to share a good amount of curry recipes - both here and in my books, and I often call for you to use whatever favorite curry paste you have on hand. Even if you have a favorite, I encourage you to entertain this as an option.
Lemongrass Turmeric Curry Paste Recipe

A Favorite Curry Paste

This curry paste - it's vibrant, electric yellow in color, and intensely flavored. I tend to wing it a bit when it comes to pastes - throwing whatever I have on hand in the mortar and pestle (or, if I'm feeling lazier, the food processor), but I love a generous shallot base - and that's what you see here. To the shallot base I add lots of ginger, and garlic, turmeric, and serrano chiles. The color is amazing, and the flavor is equally vibrant. In addition, I thought it might be helpful if I share a few of the different ways I use this curry particular paste over the course of a week, so you'll see that below too. -xo hLemongrass Turmeric Curry Paste Recipe

Use Some & Freeze Some

After making a batch, the first thing I do is figure out the amount of paste I might use in the coming days. I keep that portion in a jar, and then freeze the rest. You'll love being able to grab for the frozen packet a week or two out. A quick thaw and you're good.Lemongrass Turmeric Curry Paste Recipe

Lemongrass Turmeric Curry Paste Recipe

How much curry paste?

As far as usage goes, I think people tend to look to recipes for the exact amount of curry paste they're supposed to use in their cooking. I'd encourage you to trust yourself, and use your taste buds to guide you. When it come to curry paste, there's such a range in strength, spiciness, and flavor. The great thing about making your own, is that you can tweak and adjust over time, developing pastes that you really know and love.

More Ideas:

  • Use as pictured ladled over a cooked farro, split green pea, and tri-color quinoa blend. Or other grain blend! Finished with a sprinkling of toasted walnuts, slivered green onions, and dried chive blossoms.
  • Whisk into eggs before making a scramble or omelette.
  • Stir a bit into thick yogurt with a little salt as a soup topping.
  • Use as the base for a simple broth - add to that noodles, seasonal vegetables, etc.

Other favorite turmeric-rich recipes to try! This Dynamite Cold Tonic, this Instant Pot Congee with Brown Rice and Turmeric, my favorite Pad Thai, Turmeric Popcorn, Turmeric Cashews (so good!), Pickled Turmeric Eggs, and these Turmeric Soaked Chickpeas. There's also a whole directory of recipes using turmeric.

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Lemongrass Turmeric Curry Paste

4.37 from 11 votes

If you're not sure how to prepare lemongrass, just keep in mind that you're after the tender center part in the center of each stalk. Peel the fibrous layers back, and discard. Trim any tough parts at the top and tail, and reserve just the tender center for chopping. If you think your turmeric might be on the bitter side, start with less, and add more to taste.

  • 4 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, tender center part only
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 medium shallots, peeled
  • 3 medium serrano chiles, stemmed
  • 3- inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/4 cup good extra-virgin coconut, sunflower or olive oil
  • a drizzle of lime oil or zest of one lime, optional
  1. If you're making the curry paste in a mortar and pestle, start by smashing the lemongrass, and add each ingredient from there. If you're using a food processor or blender, combine the lemongrass, garlic, shallots, chiles, ginger, cumin, and turmeric, and pulse until the ingredients start to come together. 

  2. You can add the oil at this point, and blend again. Stir in the lime oil or zest. The paste will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. Freeze any paste you wont use for future use.


Makes about 1 cup.

Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Recipe Rating


Hi! What do you think about using fresh turmeric in this recipe?


    Sure! I’d play around with the quantity, and make notes!

    Heidi Swanson

I’d love more details on how you turn this into broth! I read a few different techniques on your other curry paste recipes – simmering with broth and straining out the paste solids, mixing with coconut milk and broth combo, heating with water – which do you recommend for this paste? I want to make a sort of brothy bowl with noodles, broccoli rabe, tofu, and turnips!


Just made this, when I tasted some of the paste at the end it was quite bitter, worried I didn’t peel back the lemongrass enough or maybe adding it to soups etc will mellow it out?

HS: Hi Natalie! Yes – or when you add coconut milk, etc. It’s likely your turmeric. It seems some turmerics are a bit more bitter than others…you could counter with a bit of brown sugar / coconut sugar as well, etc.


This paste sounds like a great base paste for a curry dish. I’m looking forward to making it. I’ll post a picture on your Instagram site. Thanks, Ronan Brennan

Ronan Brennan

What a treasure your recipe and story is. Thank you so much.

HS: Thanks Laura!


My curry turned out rather bitter on first taste. I’m hoping it’ll mellow out in the fridge after a day or two. Wish I knew what went wrong or how to fix this acrid taste?

HS: Hi Scott – My guess is it’s your turmeric, some can be quite acrid. Wait a day and see if it mellows, maybe try stirring a bit of something sweet to counter it…the next time around swap in another turmeric brand and see if you can tell the difference – there does seem to be quite a range. Some turmerics are much smoother than others, and you’ll know when you hit on a good one. You should be able to wrangle the paste you made into something delicious though, just keep tweaking, even if you have to bulk it out some so the turmeric isn’t as prominent….Hope this helps!

Scott Citron

Thanks Heidi! I will surely try to make some ASAP!
I, myself am a huge curry paste consumer but usally I buy them and those are very expensive as you know. I will try the recipe and let you know hahaha.


reminds me of: I recently had a green curry, fennel and absinthe cocktail which blew my mind, though I don’t think they used a paste.

Julie De Meester

i made this last week and it is fabulous!!! so easy and now i have perfect little portioned cubes frozen and ready for creating delicious soups and dishes!! i doubled the recipe and made a dozen cubes. my soup was amazing. i simply used one can full fat coconut milk with a bit of water, 4 cubes of curry paste, a few sliced carrots, a potatoe and bok choy after they simmered and softened. thank you for teaching me such a great lesson 🙂


Thanks Heidi, recipe looks amazing. I have lemongrass already minced up in the freezer, how much would you use for 4 stalks?

HS: Hi Anna – maybe ~2 tablespoons? Something in that ballpark – enjoy!


What is “lime oil”? Sounds delicious.

Sarah Brienne

I love the Green Curry Broth from a few years ago (?) and am super excited to make what looks like a pretty similarly-flavored curry paste – thank you for posting! I notice that this paste doesn’t include coriander – is there any reason not to include it? I love coriander and would want to add it, I think, but only if it wouldn’t mess this up for some reason.

HS: Hi Melanie – you could certainly add some – and/or blitz some with oil, and use it as a finishing drizzle.


I live in Bali and have same question about using fresh turmeric rather than ground turmeric? Also don’t think I can get serrano chillies? What would be a good substitute?

HS: Hi Chris – I would recommend adding to taste – on both fronts. Starting with the fresh turmeric. Then adding whatever chile you like, also to taste – red chile flakes are great here in place of the serrano.

Chris Ladd

I was eating at one of those vegetarian restaurants in johannesburg and they used a paste very similar to this on a soya mince curry wow tasted amazing even my meat loving husband couldn’t get enough of it. thanks for sharing.


I like the idea of making a curry paste. I wonder if I add paprika it would taste like the Thai red curry. Ill try first to make it your way then I’ll try to make red paste. Thank you for the inspiration!


Thanks for the tip! I mixed some coconut sugar into the curry paste last night and will try it in a tofu farro bowl this week.


Thanks for the inspiration! This is just what I need in my freezer at the ready before baby #2 arrives. I also added cilantro stems to my paste 🙂

HS: Congrats Amy! Enjoy the new year.


I’ve always gone the easy route and used store bought curry, but you make this look like it is absolutely worth the effort to make your own. I love this gorgeous bright yellow bowl full of hearty grains and slivered green onions. Making my way through reading your new book and I love every page. 🙂


Vibrant, electric yellow is the perfect description of this color. Making curry pasts can be complex, but I appreciate how you’ve kept the ingredients and the work simple but the flavor deep and intriguing. Can’t wait to try this one – love the idea to freeze some too.

Katie @ Whole Nourishment

Hi! I made this last night without making any changes or substitutions, and for some reason it came out extremely bitter. The only ingredient I haven’t worked with before is lemongrass, so do you think maybe it was bad? I’d appreciate any advice you might have, and thanks!!

HS: Hi Anabel – I suspect it was your turmeric, that can go bitter. You might be able to counter that with something sweet, or try another turmeric (or fresh), or go with less the next time around.


Lovely paste Heidi. I always make mine with fresh turmeric now, as it’s something I always have in the fridge with lots of ginger. Lately, I’ve been using it as a base to make a very soupy rice pilaf, topped with poached chicken and lots of fresh herbs. Rather Congee like, and so comforting. x

Tracy Wood

This is a great staple to have on hand for warming meals in these cold days of winter, but also to flavor dressings and marinates all year-round. I love the encouragement to trust one’s taste buds; and the multi-use dimension of the humble paste!
Thanks as always

Paula Thomas

Gorgeous Heidi, love the colors and flavors 🙂

gerry @ Foodness Gracious

This looks fantastic; a great staple to have on hand. I am definitely going to whip myself up a batch of this over the weekend. Thank you for sharing!


WOW…this looks amazing and I love all the additional uses for it…thank you for sharing.


Thanks, Heidi…I have been wanting to try lemongrass and make my own curry paste. Killing two birds with one stone! I also found a great YouTube on how to cut lemongrass and get to the tender center. Looking forward!


An idea, is to put measured tablespoons into a ice block container and freeze. Then pop them out and store in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Taking out what you want each time you cook a dish.

Jan Brown

I just got a bunch of fresh tumeric I’d love to use — would I use the same amount in measurement?


This will be on my list for the week if I can find some lemongrass. I first learned to make curry in Chang Mai many years ago, lugging home a large granite mortar and pestle and using it to make green curry. We lived in Sebastopol then so it was easy to find all the ingredients that we didn’t have in our garden. We are now in Paso Robles and it’s a bit of a challenge sometimes. I’ve been making your turmeric tea for my husband to help with his head cold and he loves it, me too!! Thank you Hiedi, you are an inspiration and I love your new book.


I can’t eat chili peppers so regular curry powder is OUT – and turmeric is a very important part of my anti-inflammatory diet. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!! 🙂


Can you use fresh turmeric instead (or along with) the ground?


This looks wonderful, and I’m going to make some! One question: I have access to many Indian markets that sell fresh tumeric. Is it worth using that? How much?


Oh I love this! I was fighting a cold over the holidays and kept making massive batches of lemongrass-garlic-ginger-chili-tumeric broth with noodles and carrots added in and a few fresh lemons squeezed in. This is almost the same, but freezeable for future colds.


This sounds incredible! I’m going to try making it this weekend. Turmeric is one of my favorite spices!

Traci K

Thanks for the recipe it sounds fantastic, i’m just beginning to get into curries (can’t believe I’ve never appreciated them before, they are so delicious)! I’m definitely going to try this one 🙂 – JustRach


As the temperatures plummet below zero, I find myself drawn to the remedial taste of turmeric, with its rich, earthy tones and the beautiful golden hue. I feel, perhaps unjustly, that it grounds me, brings some light into my body even where there is so little outside. This curry captures that same essence perfectly, Heidi. Thank you!

Ksenia @ At the Immigrant's Table

I love the vibrant colours in this curry paste. I’ve yet to make my own but you have inspired me to try. I tend to use curry paste in lots of different ways and I love your ideas. A couple of my favourites are mixed in to bubble and squeak to spice up the flavours of the leftover root veg and also in lentil shepherd’s pie. You can probably tell from these ideas I’m British. 🙂


Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, Heidi! I’ve been wanting to learn how to make my own curry pastes this year. I usually buy them in a jar, but I know that a fresh curry paste would taste so much better. Do you have any recommendations for good mortar and pestles?

Lisa @ Healthy Nibbles & Bits

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