• Yellow Kroeung (Kroeung Samlar M’chou). Siem Reap Studios, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Copyright 2014 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Khmer Yellow Kroeung — Kroeung Samlor Machou Recipe

The Cambodian curry paste called kroeung is an irreplaceable ingredient in Khmer cooking and yellow kroeung is the most versatile of the curry pastes, used in many classic Cambodian dishes, especially soups and dips.

Khmer yellow kroeung paste is the basis for many classic Khmer and Cambodian dishes, including amok trey (fish amok), and soups such as samlor machou*, which is why it’s commonly called kroeung samlor machou.

The paste is also used a marinade for the popular street food snack, charcoal-grilled beef skewers, and in prahok k’tis — the ubiquitous Khmer dip made with minced pork. (Recipe to come.)

The yellow kroeung paste gets its colour from lemongrass and the lemongrass here in Cambodia is generally tougher than that found in Thailand, which is why in the local markets you’ll find the lemongrass already sliced thinly to make pounding the paste much easier.

Two of the ingredients for the yellow kroeung paste can be difficult to find outside Southeast Asia — kaffir limes (krauch soeuch in Khmer) and fresh turmeric.

Oddly enough you’ll often find kaffir lime leaves in markets, but not the limes themselves as they’re quite bitter. If you must, you can substitute the kaffir limes with the kaffir lime leaves, and you can substitute fresh turmeric with ground turmeric or turmeric powder quite successfully.

As usual with a curry paste, when you are starting to grind the ingredients in the mortar and pestle, start with the hardest ingredients and gradually grind in the softer ingredients.

The paste is best used on the same day, as it tends to dry out, and submerging it in oil to preserve it doesn’t really work as quite often it’s used just gently mixed into coconut milk and the oil is an unwanted addition.

A quick note on working with fresh turmeric — it stains your skin like crazy so it’s best to wear gloves while handling it.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Khmer Yellow Kroeung — Kroeung Samlor Machou Recipe
The Cambodian curry paste called kroeung is an irreplaceable ingredient in Khmer cooking and yellow kroeung is the most versatile of the curry pastes, used in many classic Cambodian dishes, especially soups and dips.
Cuisine: Khmer
Recipe type: Curry Paste
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • 200 g lemongrass stalks, peeled, chopped and outer layers discarded
  • 1 tbsp galangal, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 tsp kaffir lime zest
  • 1 tsp turmeric, peeled and chopped finely
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 shallots, peeled and chopped finely
  1. Place the lemongrass in a well-supported mortar and pound with the pestle until you can no longer see the rings of the lemongrass and it's all mashed up.
  2. Add the galangal, turmeric and kaffir lime zest and pound until they're incorporated into the mashed lemongrass.
  3. Add the garlic and pound and then add the shallots and pound.
  4. The finished paste will still have some fibres from the lemongrass but should otherwise be quite smooth.
I've used samlor machou here, but you will also see it written as samlor m'chou, samlar machou, samlar m'chou, samloh machou, sam-law machou, and so on.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 3 tbsp Calories: 257 Fat: 0.4g Saturated fat: 0.1g Unsaturated fat: 0.3g Trans fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 58.2g Sugar: 0.3g Sodium: 6mg Fiber: 0.9g Protein: 7.7g Cholesterol: 0mg


There has been some debate in the media recently on the use of ‘kaffir’, which is a word of Arabic origin used by Muslims to refer to non-Muslims or atheists. The word ‘kaffir’ is considered racist in South Africa, where use of the term ‘makrut’, as in makrut limes, is being encouraged. If you’re an English speaker and can’t pronounce the Khmer translation ‘krauch soeuch’ and you use the term ‘makrut’ in Cambodian markets, most vendors won’t know what you want. Or, as the word ‘makrut’ originates from Thailand, they may just be pretending they don’t know. Best to learn the Khmer translation or use kaffir lime here in Cambodia, where you’re not going to offend anyone.

A recipe for prahok k’tis, one of our favourite Cambodian dips, is coming next!

End of Article


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2017-08-25T15:10:18+00:00By |

About the Author:

Professional travel/food editorial/commercial photographer and food and travel writer based in Asia. His photography and writing assignments has seen him visit over 70 countries. Has authored some 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides. Photography has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Wanderlust, Get Lost, Travel+Leisure Asia, DestinAsian, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee and many more.


  1. Scarlet June 11, 2017 at 11:05 am

    I really loved this paste and am eager to try and prepare it myself. The versatility of it and your easy to follow recipe is very appealing.

  2. Cathie Carpio June 15, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Thanks for including required amount of lemongrass stalks in grams. I’ve browsed through a lot of recipes that indicate lemongrass stalks in units, which would not be accurate for me as the lemongrass stalks in my farm’s smaller than the ones I found in Siem Reap. Great recipe.

  3. Terence Carter June 15, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Funnily enough, I was working on a few recipes yesterday with different versions of yellow kroeung and comparing grams Vs tbsp and stalks, grams win! Even in neighbouring Thialand the lemongrass generally has much more girth making stalks a useless measurement. You might get 20 grams of finished lemongrass from a stalk Vs 10 grams from the ones I used yesterday…

    Thanks for your comments! I’m working on a few new recipes I’m testing coming soon.

  4. Lara Dunston July 14, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    Great to hear, Scarlet! Let us know how it goes.

  5. Marko September 1, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Is the 200g of lemongrass before or after the unwanted bits are discarded?

  6. Terence Carter September 1, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    After, Marko.

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