Sunday, 30 June 2013

Thai curry

It all started with a simple purchase I made at the neighborhood supermarket. My grocery / vegetable shopping is impulsive and I never fail to pick up anything interesting that meets my eye (much to the dismay of the partner). And the Thai kit was one such. It had a (fairly large) piece of galangal, two bird eye chillies, few blades of lemon grass and a few kafir lime leaves. I picked it up and wasted no time in looking up for recipes for Thai Green Curry.

After hours of research that involved reading up recipes ranging from the completely indianized version to the authentic version, I zeroed in on two recipes (which are pretty much similar). The guardian has a lengthy post on How to make perfect Thai green curry that gave me insights like why there is no need to use oil while making the curry. The recipe and the interview with the Thai cooking teacher and author Kasma Loha-unchit also provided useful tips on readily available curry pastes.

Frankly, I am not a fan of curry pastes (neither the other guy) since we are sticklers for freshly ground spices (even the coconut milk I used in this recipe is homemade, so there you go). The flavor of freshly ground spices can never be replaced with store bought pastes that are often overtly spicy, lacking in flavor and extremely pungent owing to their preservative content.

My variations for this recipe:
·         Almost all the recipes I stumbled upon mention eggplant (preferably the round ones) in the ingredient list but all I used in this recipe was zucchini and tofu and my curry turned out fine. In fact, fabulous.
·         Also, I did not use the fish sauce because I did not have any. Instead I crushed some dry shrimp and added in the curry. You can totally skip it if you want a completely vegetarian version.
·         I added peanut milk to give my curry body.

Without much ado, here’s the recipe. I hope your curry turns fabulous too.

For the paste
1” piece of Galangal
2 bird eye chillies (else regular green chillies are ok)
3 blades of lemon grass
2 large kafir lime leaves chopped
2 cloves of garlic
4 shallots
10 white pepper corns

For the curry
1 cup of coconut milk
1 tsp of palm sugar / palm jaggery
1 medium sized zucchini chopped
50gms silky tofu cubed
1 kafir lime leaf chopped
1 handful of thai basil leaves
1 handful of roasted peanuts
1 tsp of soya sauce
2 tbsp dried shrimp (optional)

Dump all the ingredients for the paste in a mortar and pestle and pound nicely until it becomes a paste. If you are time-pressed, go ahead and use your food processor.
Meanwhile, pour the coconut milk in a hot pan and let it boil for about a minute (or until it starts to split). Throw in your curry paste and let it simmer for some more time. Add the zucchini and tofu and cook until tender.
Grind the peanuts and soya sauce with little water first to a paste and then add about 1/3-1/2 cup more water and blend on high speed like you would a smoothie. Add this peanut milk to the curry, it will thicken. If using, powder the dried shrimp by just pulsing dry in a blender. Add the kafir lime leaves and basil leaves and turn heat off after a minute or so.

Serve hot with fried (or plain) rice. 

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