25 November 2006

Thai Curry

One of my favourite, simple to make, yet slightly fancy, foods is Thai curry.

The key ingredient to a good Thai curry is the curry paste. For those who don't mind a little fish sauce and shrimp paste, there are a lot of options available on the supermarket shelves. For vegetarians like us, that rules out buying readymade paste. After lots of experiments, I came up with a nice curry paste for tangy hot Thai curry.

As long there's some curry paste in the fridge, I don't even have to think about what to cook. I just raid the freezer, take out assorted frozen cut veggies, put them all together, make rice, and lo presto, a nice hot meal ready in less than 20 minutes.

It's really wonderful... especially on a lazy, cold winter day! Piping hot curry, the sweetness of coconut milk hits you first, lulling one into a false sense of complacency before the spice makes its presence known in no uncertain terms. Thats the ideal time to reach for iced tea (or a beer, as a certain self-proclaimed gourmet claims).

Thai Red Curry Paste

15 -20 dry red chillies (or to taste)
1 cup boiling water
10 shallots (peeled)
10 cloves garlic
3 inch piece of fresh ginger (galangal if you can get your hands on some)
6 stalks lemongrass
4 kaffir lime leaves, (or zest from 1 big lemon)
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp pepper
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil leaves
3 tbsp Oil

Soak the red chilies in boiling water for 15 minutes (or till they are soft). Drain chilies and reserve water.
Finely chop tender part of lemongrass.
Grind chilies, shallots, ginger, garlic, lime leaves (or zest) and the tender portion of the lemongrass, coriander and pepper to a smooth paste, using reserved chili water, one tablespoon at a time, as required.
Transfer to a clean, dry bottle, with a tight fitting lid.
Heat oil and let it cool. Add to the curry paste and stir well.
Can be stored in fridge for about a week.

Notes:
1. Don't go by the colour of my paste as posted here. I used just 8 chilies as I wanted it slightly bland. The ideal colour is a fiery red!
2. For green curry, use 1 doz green chilies instead of the red. Also add well cleaned coriander roots, and coriander stems (about 1/2 cup) and more basil leaves (about 1/2 cup). No need to soak, chillies. Grind all ingredients to smooth paste as above.

Thai Curry
serves 4

5 tbsp Thai curry paste (or more, for spicier taste)
2 tbsp Oil
1 cup Broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
2 cups mixed cut vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, asparagus, french beans)
1 cup Soya chunks (optional)
2 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
Salt to taste

Soak soya chunks in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze out excess water and keep aside.
Heat oil. Fry curry paste till it loses its raw smell.
Add vegetables, and fry for 2 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup coconut milk, salt and just enough water to cover vegetables.
Reserve some basil leaves for garnish and add the rest to the curry.
Cover pan and cook vegetables on low heat till done (about 10 minutes).
Add remaining coconut milk and cook on low heat till it starts to simmer.
Garnish with remaining basil leaves.
Serve hot with rice.

Notes:
1. Other vegetables like eggplants, squash, capsicums and sweet potato can be added to the curry. Go ahead and use any mix that sounds good to you!
2. As a rule of thumb (for one serving) use 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp curry paste, use 1 cup assorted mixed vegetables, and 1/2 cup coconut milk.

1 comment:

Asha said...

One word!

BEAUTIFUL!:))