I don't normally like using curry pastes that come from a jar. They're very convenient, but I find the taste a bit odd. One problem is that it never tastes the way I think it should (ie good!) but the worst part is that there always seems to be either a sour or chemical taste to them. I've tried a few different brands and they all seemed odd.
I'm never buying Indian curry paste again. I've successfully tried a few recipes for Indian curries that were delicious. They were time consuming and contained a gazillion spices, but the depth of flavour was infinitely better than jar curry. I'd rather cook curry on a special occasion than put up with ick curry.
But I've never had any success with cooking Thai curries. Even from scratch, my curry pastes are insipid, one dimensional and uninspiring. Such a disappointment. I should keep trying.
As for Malaysian curry – I've never tried making it. The "outside kitchen" (ie when Alastair "cooks" and goes out to buys food) does such good laksa and nasi lemak, that I've never bothered trying. But the other week I had roti in my fridge, and no time to cook a proper curry. I decided to use a jar of laksa paste in the pantry that I bought a while ago (Por Kwan brand, bought from an Asian supermarket). I added in a few things and it actually tasted really good! Have I been wrong about jar curry paste?
Chicken and potato curry
2 onions, sliced
The white part of a stalk of lemongrass
Half a jar of laksa paste
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
400gram can of coconut milk
6 chicken drumsticks
1 teaspoon fish sauce
Cook the sliced onions on low heat until soft (about 15 mins). Crush the stalk of lemongrass with your knife and throw that into the pot.
Add half the jar of laksa paste and the potatoes. Stir to combine and cook until fragrant.
Add the coconut milk and water, then the drumsticks. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the chicken is cooked and tender (about 30 minutes).
Stir in a teaspoon of fish sauce and serve with flakey roti. (If serving with rice, you may want to thicken the sauce).