To view a revised version of this recipe, please click here.
My cousin Sophie was fortunate enough to travel to Thailand (among other countries) for a few months a couple years back. While in Thailand she took a Thai cooking class.
She found that class on trip advisor, and had a blast learning how to make a variety of Thai dishes, including both green and red Thai curries. Sophie told me a bit about the class, and her somewhat flamboyant male instructor yelling in his heavy Thai accent “Harder ladies, HARDER!” at the young girls working the mortar and pestle. Sophie got a kick out of this for sure.
So not that long ago, Sophie came over to my place for dinner. We decided it would be fun to try our hand at a Thai curry. She brought along the most adorable cookbook that she received in her cooking class, complete with lovely photos, questionable translations and cute phrases that just make you happy when you read it. The Thai woman who created the cookbook did a great job, using diagrams to show the ingredients instead of listing measurements.
Now with all of the interesting ingredients needed for the curry, we headed off to T&T to find them. We had fun wandering around the store, in search for such ingredients as lemongrass, galangal, fresh turmeric, ginseng among others.
I learned from Sophie that the only difference between red and green Thai curries is the type of pepper used, green chilies being hotter than red chilies. We opted for the red variety.
The problem with making this curry is that we had to purchase large packages of each ingredient, while the recipe only called for a miniscule amount. Because of this, we decided to quadruple the recipe, and have leftover curry paste to freeze and use at a later date. (I tried using the frozen paste and it worked perfectly!)
Sophie went ahead and prepared the ingredients for the curry paste, while I chopped vegetables and prepared the chicken. The recipe she had called for eggplant and chicken, but we decided to bolster the vegetable content of our curry, using mushrooms, red peppers, sweet potatoes, and peas alongside the chicken. You can also easily drop the chicken and go vegetarian.
As mentioned before, mortar and pestle is the traditional way to prepare your curry paste. However to save time (and because we quadrupled the recipe) Sophie and I took the easy way out and used the Magic Bullet, a kitchen appliance that I doubt you see often in Thailand.
The thing that really shocked me about this curry was how hot it was! It was the hottest curry I had ever eaten (I think I used a lot of paste.) What shocked me even more was when Sophie told me that our curry was about average hot by Thai standards. WOW!
So if you can’t stand the heat, consider using less chili peppers, removing the seeds, or reducing the amount of paste you add to your curry. I used less frozen paste when I made it a second time, and it was much less hot, heat most people could easily tolerate.
Other than the initial heat shock, our curry was delicious. The use of the fresh ingredients really trumped any curry paste I had ever tried.
– Consider reducing the amount of chili peppers you use in your paste, or removing the seeds depending on how hot you want it. Also, control the amount of paste you use.
– Consider doubling (or more) and freezing the paste for later use – I tried my frozen paste and it worked well
– Add whatever vegetables you like to bolster your dish
– Drop the chicken and go vegetarian!
– Be very careful when handling the fresh turmeric – it stains!
– Serve with Thai jasmine rice
Ingredient I can’t live without:
I use coconut in so many different curry dishes, Thai and Indian. I always have a can or two in my pantry as you never know when one will be needed.
So the attached recipe is our best interpretation of the diagram in Sophie’s book – we had to improvise but I think Sophie did a good job interpreting the diagram and putting it into numerical quantities. But in the end it doesn’t have to be exact. Sophie and I probably ended up using more turmeric then needed, which is why ours was such a strong yellow colour. Nonetheless, it was delicious!
We had a blast making this dish together, and I am certain we will try another Thai recipe next time!
Click here to view printable Word version of recipe:
Thai Red or Green Curry Paste
Thai Red or Green Curry Paste
Curry Paste Ingredients:
1 chunk Gingseng, about the size of your pinky finger
1 stalk Lemongrass
1/2 Kaffir lime or 1/4 zest and juice of regular lime
½ cm thick slice Galangal
2 tsp Coriander Seed
½ cm thick slice Turmeric (also called Kamin)
4 cloves Garlic
Red Curry: 11 small red chilies
Green Curry: 11 small green chilies
Ingredients for Curry Dish:
Chicken (optional) – thighs or breasts, your choice, cut into bite sized pieces
1 can coconut milk
Any combination of vegetables such as:
Pre-chop for easy blending
Put all paste ingredients in food processor or blender. Blend to a paste.
Alternatively, you can prepare with a mortar and pestle.
This recipe makes a HOT curry. Use fewer peppers, seeded peppers or less paste for a more mild version of the curry.
If you make leftover paste, portion and freeze for later use.
- In hot dutch oven or pot, or very large pan cook chicken in oil, until browned, adding salt while cooking. Remove from pot.
- Saute onions for a few minutes. Add all other vegetables and saute (apart from frozen peas If you are using them)
- Add curry paste and mix in.
- Add coconut milk. Then add chicken.
- Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.