The classic Thai curry has been on the radar of the Indo-Chinese food scene for a while now. This pungent and flavourful curry has, in fact, become a favourite for many. But many are still unaware of what goes behind into making one or what goes well with the curry base. This guide should help you answer those very questions.
While there are many iterations and variations in the Thai curry, in India it is prominently known to be made in two variants –The green curry and the red curry. These curries have their own distinct flavours and taste that makes you fall in love with them.
The Thai Green Curry gets its rich green colour from the chillies blended in it. It is called as Kaeng Khiao Wan in Thai, which literally means sweet green curry. Now you might be wondering that how does a curry that is infused with a good amount of green chillies, from which it gets its signature colour could possibly be sweet to taste? Well, the sweetness that the name refers to is the colour of the curry itself, since the presence of coconut milk and cream makes the colour look fresh and subtle. The curry, however, isn’t sweet and is known for its spicy and pungent nature. The green curry is made using the green curry paste which includes numerous spices – green chillies being one of them.
Similarly, the Thai Red Curry (Kaeng Phet in Thai) on the other hand, gets its red colour from the red chillies and peppers which are ground to a paste along with other spices. The Red Curry is also fairly spicy, but quite flavourful at the same time. The complex combination of spices and vegetables helps in achieving a refreshing taste.
Coconut plays a major role in the execution of both the curries. A Thai curry is simply incomplete without the inclusion of coconut. Both the green and red curries use coconut milk and cream as the base, and it is one of the quintessential ingredients that gives both these curries its distinct taste. Moreover, Thai curries are also cooked in coconut oil and use generous amounts of coconut water. Some chefs also prefer adding elements like coconut sugar to add to its flavours. A few iterations of the curry also use small amounts of freshly grated coconut, along with other vegetables and meat to add to the overall texture.
There are many other condiments that add to the overall flavour of these curries. Green Thai Curry includes a signature green paste, which is traditionally made using green chillies, shallots, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime peel, cilantro roots, and cumin seeds, white peppercorns, shrimp paste and salt. Other ingredients to the mix include palm sugar and fish sauce.
The Red Curry also uses a red curry paste, which is made by grinding red spur chillies, red chilli peppers, garlic, shallots, galangal, shrimp paste, salt, kaffir lime leaves, coriander root, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns and lemongrass. Some also prefer including the fish sauce to add more flavour. These pastes are easily available in departmental stores today.
Meat plays a vital role to make this curry more nutritious and tasty at the same time. The choice of the meat varies among different curries, and each adds a distinct flavour. Green Thai Curry is mostly preferred with chicken and fish. Some also prefer adding tofu to the mix. Red Thai Curry, on the other hand, uses numerous kinds of meats like chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, duck, as well as frog and snake meats.
Both the curries are loaded with loads of veggies, making it one of the healthiest curries. The crunchy vegetables not only add to the flavour but also give it a wonderful crunchy texture while complementing the meat at the same time. The Green Curry goes well with Thai eggplant, asparagus, carrots, spinach, bamboo shoots etc. Coming to the Red Curry, it is usually cooked with bell peppers, carrots, and kale. It can also include spinach, bamboo shoots as well as different kinds of mushrooms to keep things interesting.
Once you’ve got the curry of your choice prepared, you need to pick the right thing to serve it with. This completely depends on how you have prepared the curry and obviously its type. Green Curry when made soupy is paired well with a bowl of hot steamed rice. Some also prefer to pair the soupy variant of Green Curry with noodles. However, if the curry is of a thicker nature, it is also paired with Rotis or other kinds of Indian breads. The Red Curry on the other hand is usually made soupy and pairs phenomenally with a bowl of rice.
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.