Benjamin Cooper, executive chef of Melbourne’s ever-popular Chin Chin, knows what you should be cooking this weekend (it’s a “long, slow cook” but it’ll be worth it).

“It’s a really fun curry to have a crack at making from scratch,” Cooper says.

Chin Chin’s yellow curry is a rich, nutty and deeply aromatic dish, flavoured with galangal, garlic, chilli and caramelised palm sugar. Beyond its turmeric-stained golden colour, what separates yellow curry from many others is the preparation of the paste.

“Yellow curry is a cooked paste,” says Cooper. “There’s two ways that a curry paste can be made: either a raw paste … the ingredients are blitzed raw and then you cook the paste out; or a cooked paste [where] you actually cook the raw ingredients before blitzing.

“The whole experience is really aromatic – there’s so much going on, the kitchen will smell amazing.”

For this vegetarian version, Cooper recommends some roast pumpkin and chargrilled tofu. Cooking both separately preserves the flavours of the ingredients, rather than losing them in the curry. To serve, he plates with some adjard pickles and rice. “Always with rice,” Cooper says. “Brown rice is delicious with yellow curry …I love the textural quality. I eat brown rice as much as I eat white rice.”

To round the whole thing out, Cooper loves the balance of flavours provided by a Barossa grenache, like Yalumba’s Barossa Bush Vine Grenache. “It’s my favourite curry because it’s big and rich and deep, and those nutty flavours sit with a classic Sunday roast lunch,” Cooper says. “The grenache then makes sense because of the roasted, nutty, earthy notes that are coming through.”

Chin Chin yellow curry
Serves 6
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes


Yellow curry paste
½ cup turmeric
5–6 cloves garlic
3–4 shallots
1 stalk lemongrass
1 knob galangal
½ cup large dried red chillies (soaked and deseeded)
½ cup water
¼ cup chipotles in adobo sauce

Spice mix
½ bunch coriander roots
1 ½ tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin
1 ½ tbsp fennel seeds
½ tbsp sea salt
1 small cassia quill (about 3–4cm long)

Curry sauce
1 tin coconut cream
70ml vegetable oil
Pinch of salt
4–5 star anise
1-2 cinnamon quills
5 tbsp yellow curry paste (as above)
100-125g palm sugar
70-100ml soy sauce
1 tbsp yellow bean paste
2 ½ cups coconut milk
2 tbsp tamarind water
1 cup water (or stock)


Roughly chop all ingredients for the paste. Place turmeric, garlic, shallot, lemongrass, galangal and chillies in a roasting pan lined with baking paper. Add ½ cup water and roast at 160C until the water has completely evaporated.

Continue to roast for 20 minutes or until the ingredients are fragrant.

Remove pan from the oven and then blitz the ingredients in a blender or pound in a mortar and pestle until paste is smooth. Add the chipotle.

For the spice mix, wash each of the spices separately. Once soaked, dry-roast each spice in a pan. Mix together and grind or blitz to a smooth powder.

Add the spice mix and salt to the roasted paste ingredients and set aside. (Note: this will yield more curry paste than required. Place the remaining in a zip lock bag, squeeze out the air and freeze for 6-8 weeks.)

Move on to the curry sauce. In a heavy-based pan, add the coconut cream, oil, salt, star anise and cinnamon quills and place over medium to high heat. Bring to the boil and continue to cook until the cream thickens and starts to split (you will see the coconut fats and solids separate).

At this point add the curry paste and cook over medium heat, stirring regularly to avoid catching. Once the curry paste starts to really cook the oil will separate back out (the water will have evaporated) – at this point the aromas will really start to emerge. The curry paste will start looking like thick lava and the colour will slightly darken. As the oil starts to separate you will hear the paste fry.

The aromas should be intoxicating – carefully smell the mixture to gauge the flavours (what you smell is what you’ll taste) then you’re ready for the next step.

Add the palm sugar and cook until the paste returns to the thick lava-like stage. It will smell nutty and sweet and the colour will have darkened considerably. This stage requires considerable focus and attention.

Add the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Add cherry tomatoes right at the end just before serving.

Garnish with coconut cream, crispy shallots, Thai basil and makrut lime leaf.

Serve with Yalumba’s Barossa Bush Vine Grenache.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Yalumba.