These expert tips will help you achieve the perfect balance of flavours.
16 May 2013 - 12:39 PM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2021 - 12:55 PM

Makrut lime leaves

Never cut makrut lime leaves, as too much oil will come off on the knife and diminish the strength of the flavor. Tear them gently instead. When makrut zest is unavailable, substitute lemon peel rather than lime, as the latter is too bitter.


Ginger, in smaller quantities, can be used as a substitute for galangal (also known as ginza or laos powder).

Making curry paste

When making large quantities of curry paste to store in the fridge or freezer, it's best to fry it first in oil, and then store both the oil and the paste. This helps retain better color and flavor. Dried chilies provide a better color in paste than fresh ones.

Lime juice

Always add lime juice after the heat has been turned off.

Mung beans

Mung beans should be stored in salt, not water, to keep them crunchy.

Garlic and shallots

Don't fry garlic and shallots together, as the garlic will cook quicker and turn brown. Shallots soaked in water for 10 minutes won't make you cry when cutting them.

Coconut milk

Use a tablespoon of coconut milk as a garnish for curries to provide an attractive color contrast. To separate coconut cream from milk, refrigerate it for 10 minutes, then skim off the top.


Milk, cucumber or tomato will stop the burning sensation from chilies; water will amplify it.


When stir-frying, always preheat your wok at least five minutes, until it's smoking hot. Add your oil and wait 10 seconds before beginning to add meat and vegetables.