Hey! I’m Bridget Francis – a Melbourne girl who is obsessed with making fresh curry pastes and eating south-east Asian food. I’ve worked in restaurants for the past eight years honing in on cooking techniques and skill while learning how to understand the balance of flavours; acid, salt, heat and sweetness.
But there’s a little more you need to know about me to understand why I started Curry Favour. I spent much of my childhood in south-east Asia; mostly Phnom Penh in Cambodia.
As was the ex-pat life, we had a cook - Madame Sippah - who would make us a combination of Western and Asian meals. Madame Sippah lived with us during the week and would return home on weekends.
We would communicate in French and sometimes I would go to the central market with her, side saddling the back of a moto. Other days, when I got home from school, procrastinating about doing homework while my parents were still at work, I would hang around Madame Sippah and her daughter while she prepared their dinner. This was much more exciting than homework.
It would always commence with peeling and chopping ingredients like lemongrass, chilli, galangal, garlic and kaffir lime. At the time, I had no idea what any of these were. Their meals were always served with rice and then accompanied by grilled fish or meats which she would cook over a small terracotta grill while fanning the charcoal underneath. Dishes were often some sort of papaya salad or Khmer fish curry and I would sit on the tiled floor by the fan watching.
On the weekends, my friends and I would wander through markets weaving through the aisles of fresh pastes and sauces on display to get through to the music section - looking for CDs (when they were a thing). This was just my way of life and I loved it.
The more I develop Curry Favour, the more these memories are coming back and I’m so grateful for that time because this is where I became familiar with the colours, aromas and flavour of south east Asian cooking.
After several years of working as a chef, I found myself running a small kitchen in Melbourne where I was creating dishes and of course, making fresh Thai curry pastes. After they were made, they were either stored in the coolroom or frozen for later use. The more I made the pastes, the more I thought about my childhood and how hard is it to find the ingredients and make my own pastes at home.
I started to research this idea, going from the Queen Victoria market to Asian supermarkets to Coles, finding each ingredient and taking it home to make my pastes. It wasn’t hard but it was time consuming to shop for and to make for one meal.
So, I delved in deeper – what curry pastes do we have available to us here?
I visited supermarkets and checked out the aisles with Asian food but the Thai curry pastes lacked flavour and were filled with preservatives, oils, refined sugar and numbers to make them shelf stable. Most of the curry pastes were also made overseas. This wasn’t good enough.
It was in May 2017 that I created recipes for a yellow, green and red curry paste in single serve pouches and headed to a Farmers’ Market in St. Kilda to see if this could actually work. I predicted I’d sell 10 but sold 70.
I believe the freshness, vibrancy and nuance of Curry Favour curry pastes are undeniably delicious! Perfect for families, friends’ get-togethers or solo dining.