Chili-Garlic-Ginger Paste Recipe
Chili, Ginger and garlic, are a trio that come together in all sorts of dishes and, in India especially, many cooks pre-make their own pastes from the ingredients and keep it on hand as a convenient time-saver. It is tremendously versatile, being used as-is or as the base for more complex spice blends, and it keeps very well indeed.
The amounts of the main ingredients are not ‘carved in stone’ and you can vary the ratios as you see fit. I tend to use a ratio of 2 parts chili to one part each of the garlic and ginger as I think of this as more of a Chili paste that just happens to have garlic and ginger added. I always have garlic and ginger paste on hand anyway, so, if necessary, I can add a little more of these to the basic blend depending on the intended use.
As for the salt, a good rule of thumb is to add from ½ to 1 teaspoon for each cup of the combined main ingredients. A little more is better from the point of view of extending the ‘shelf’ life, but this will make it quite salty and you will need to bear this in mind and adjust for salt in any preparations that use the paste. Many recipes add a little vinegar for preservation but I prefer to avoid this as it limits the versatility a little.
The oil called for above is about right for the quantity of main ingredients used, but all you really need to remember is to just add enough to the mix while you are processing it so that a nice smooth paste is obtained. The sugar can be omitted, if you prefer, but a small amount works nicely I find, and it helps cut any bitterness from the chilli.
First, add the chopped ginger, the salt, and the sugar (if using) into your food processor and give it a good ‘whizzing’. The ginger needs a bit of a head start over the other main ingredients and the salt and sugar will provide a bit of an abrasive quality to help it process smoothly.
Now add the Chili and Ginger and continue to blend. Add the oil, a tablespoon or so at a time, until the paste is nice and smooth. Unless you have a recipe that calls for the entire amount, then transfer the paste to a jar and pop it into the fridge
Using and Storing a Chili-Garlic-Ginger Paste
To be honest, this paste is so versatile that it would be just about impossible to try and list all the possible uses. In Indian cookery, the paste is often the starting point for complex blends and it is useful as a marinade, sauce base and a rub for meat or seafood prior to grilling. In fact, if you would like to see what this paste is like in a very simple preparation, try rubbing just a little into chicken drumsticks (slashing the skin first to help the flavors penetrate), and then let them sit for several hours before popping them on the grill. The result will be delicious.
As for storage, most recipes for this type of paste suggest that it will keep anywhere from a week to a month (or longer frozen, of course) but, if a little salt (or sometimes vinegar) is added, it will last for ages. It will begin to lose some color after a few weeks, but I have had some last for over 6 months before the taste begins to fade as well. As a good rule of thumb, you may wish to make a fresh batch once you can tell that the green bits on top are not flecks of chilli…
Your Recipe Card:
- 1 cup green Chili de-seeded and chopped (about 8 or 10 Jalapenos, for example)
- ½ cup Garlic cloves chopped 1 full head, or so
- ½ cup fresh Ginger peeled and chopped (a 4 o 5-inch chunk)
- 1 level tablespoon of salt non-iodized, preferably
- ½ teaspoon Sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- Grind the chopped Ginger, Salt, and Sugar to a paste into a food processor or mortar.
- Add the Chili and Garlic and continue to process, adding the oil, a tablespoon or so at a time, until the paste is nice and smooth.
- Transfer the paste to a jar and store in the refrigerator.