I love Thai food. I know that since its very similar to Indian food it is probably easy to love it, in my case !! But some how their combinations of sweet, sour and spicy flavours hit home. For a couple of days, I have been thinking about this restaurant that I went to in Chicago. It was this hole in the wall, bring your own drink dive but it had some of the best Thai food I have eaten in my life !!! First of all it was authentic not the stuff swimming in coconut milk that passes for Thai in most restaurants !!! I could taste the kaffir lime leaves, the galangal, the umami provided by the fish sauce. My policy on fish sauce is that if you can’t see it or taste it , whats the harm ……of course my partner in crime V is the complete opposite and will ask to have it cooked without it. To each their own……I say. Anyway, I still salivate thinking about it !!! On our next trip we went to another place , don’t ask me for names, I don’t live there so I don’t have to remember !! This one was not authentic Thai and it did’nt claim to be but their stir fries were absolutely delicious , you pick and choose your veggies and your sauce and what you want with it…my kind of place !! I am pretty sure ATL has a place like that but who has the time to check out places in downtown when there are swimming battles to be fought, castles to be built , paintings to be painted and fun to be had . I am cherishing every moment with my kids, soon they’ll be off to school and growing up with a little less time for me and more time for their friends.
Anyway, to satisfy my craving and I was missing my sis , most of all my nephew , I decided to cook something I had in that dive …THAI RED CURRY ( GAENG DAENG ) …....the authentic one . I searched thru recipes and browsed the Internet and finally found the recipe that I thought used all the true flavours. I was able to find galangal in the farmers market. For those who don’t know what it is …..it looks very similar to ginger but differs immensely in taste. It has more of a earthy , citrus flavour rather than the peppery heat of the ginger. I could not find kaffir lime leaves as they are available only in a specialty store here . Who has the time to go ??? I used lime zest for a less intense flavour but similar profile . You also have to use lemon grass which is not that hard to find. I also made a lime scented Jasmine rice to go along with it
|THAI RED CURRY
For the Red Curry Paste
10 Red Chillies, soaked in warm water
2-3 cloves Garlic
1 inch piece of Galangal , peeled
1 ½ tbsp Lemon grass, chopped
6-8 stalks of Cilantro
1 tbsp Coriander Seeds, toasted
2 tbsp Cumin Seeds, toasted
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Curry
6-8 tbsp Red Curry Paste
½ tsp Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Thai /Purple Basil , cut in a chiffonade
½ cup Broccoli florets
½ cup Cauliflower florets
½ cup Carrots sliced
1 cup Peppers in assorted colours , chopped
6-8 Asparagus spears, cut in 2 inch lengths
Salt to taste
To proceed with the curry, heat oil in a pan and fry the paste for a few minutes.
Meanwhile , parboil the veggies till half cooked.
To the paste, now add coconut milk, soy sauce and salt.
Simmer till slightly thick. Thai curries have a soup like consistency.
Now add the veggies and simmer further till the veggies are cooked but still have a crunch.
Sprinkle the basil and serve with Lime scented Jasmine rice.
Lets face it , curry is probably every Indian’s comfort food and I am no different….only in that I don’t care what curry it is. Give me a bowl of any curry and rice and I will be extremely happy. This made me even happier because even though I did not achieve the exact taste of the restaurant I came very close !!! You could taste the citrus tones from the galangal and lemon grass and even though I used a good number of chillies , the sweetness from the coconut milk balanced the heat . I paired it with jasmine rice that I cooked in the normal manner but jazzed it up with lime zest and basil by adding it after it cooked . Since the curry was not coconut milk heavy , you could taste the individual flavours. I was a very happy camper that night.
Now for some substitutions ……if you do not have galangal just use ginger. For those who have no access to lemon grass , use the zest and juice of a lemon . It will not be the same but will provide enough similarity and for those who eat meat , use fish sauce instead of soy. For those who do not have Indian dried chillies at home, use New Mexico , California or Guajillo chillies. Adjust the amount as per your taste. The paste freezes well and I have given you the amounts to make 1 cup. I was supposed to add some pan seared tofu but completely for got about until after the meal was consumed !!!! You can used any combination of veggies, I used my favourites. You can certainly make this with chicken. I would think coating the chicken with a little paste and then cooking it would provide even more flavour.