“Classic Thai Red curry with some steamed rice” – a Lip-smacking combination. So popular that most people getting introduced to Thai cuisine end up having this as their first dish. The core component of this Thai Curry is of course, the complex Red Curry Paste. You can buy bottled Red Curry paste from the store or make your own if you are able to get your hands on all the ingredients required. If you are a real Thai cuisine enthusiast, you will certainly try to make your own paste ground up at some point of time…I did, and will give my recipe/procedure for the same 🙂 Just a word of caution when buying the curry paste from a store, it is very common to find shrimp paste in store bought Thai curry pastes. So if you are a vegetarian, please double check for the green dot and buy a vegetarian version.
Most people don’t think of trying out the Thai curries with noodles. Though best had with steamed rice, you can also have it with some simple pan fried noodles or toss/stir-fry some noodles in the Thai Red curry. Believe me, it tastes very good with noodles as well. You can use regular chinese noodles or the flat thai rice noodles.
There is also the equally popular Thai Green Curry which is made using the Green Curry paste. I’ve made that as well ground up. But let’s leave that for another post 🙂
How to make the Thai Red Curry Paste ?
Thai Birds Eye Chilis : About 10-15, chopped roughly. These are small fiery red chilis. Use Serrano if you don’t find birds eye.
Dried Red Chilis : About 10-15, soaked and chopped roughly. The idea is to use a chili which gives a nice red color and is less hot.
Small onions or shallots : About 5-7, peeled and chopped into small pieces
Lemongrass : About 3-4 stalks, cut small
Galangal : A 2-3 inch piece, peeled and cut small
Coriander Roots : A handful, cleaned well and chopped small
Garlic : 4-6 cloves, chopped small => You can omit this if you don’t like it.
Kafir Lime Leaves : 5-6, You can use fresh or dried. Omit if you can’t find it.
Coriander Seeds : 2 Tbsp, dry roasted
Whole Black/White Pepper : 1 Tbsp, dry roasted
Cumin : 1 Tbsp, dry roasted
Salt : 1 Tsp or to taste
Grind all the ingredients together, in a mortar & pestle or in a food processor, into a fine paste. Transfer the paste to an air tight container and it can be stored in the freezer for a few months.
Red Curry Paste is very versatile. In addition to making Thai Red Curry, I also use it in Soups, Satay marinade & sauce or Laksa.
How to make the Thai Red Curry ?
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
Thai Coconut Milk : 400ml. You can use thick or thin low-fat milk. Keep in mind that the curry will be thick or thin accordingly.
Veg Stock : 200ml. Use plain water if you don’t have stock. I always keep stock cubes handy.
Thai Red Curry Paste : 2-3 Tbsp depending upon how hot you want it to be. If stored in freezer, take it out early and let it thaw.
Lemongrass : 1 stalk, chopped into 1 inch pieces
Galangal : 1 inch piece, chopped small
Kafir Lime Leaves : 2-3
Birds Eye Chilis : 2-3, slit across.
The above 4 ingredients are already there in the paste, so optional. But if you add them in the curry, they give an additional flavor.
Basil Leaves : a big handful, Best if you can get Thai holy basil else use Italian basil.
Oil : 2 Tbsp
Salt : to taste
Sweet Chili Sauce : about 1 Tbsp. I use it to balance the flavors. You can also use Palm Sugar instead.
Lime juice : of half a lemon. Again for balancing flavors.
Salt : to taste. You can also use Soy sauce but be aware that it can impact the color of the curry
Carrot : 1 chopped into flat bite sized pieces
Zucchini : A 2 inch piece, cut into flat bite sized pieces
Aubergine : 1 medium purple or green, cut into flat bite sized pieces or use a handful of baby aubergines if you can get them.
Mushrooms : About 100 gms (discard stalks, cut across into thin cross sections). Use button or shiitake.
Tofu : About 100 gms. Use firm tofu. Get rid of extra water by wrapping in a kitchen towel. Cut into flat triangles.
Bokchoy : One small bunch. cut the top and bottom off, separate the leaves and clean them.
Broccoli : A handful of florets cleaned and roughly broken into bite sized pieces.
You can add other vegetables also like cauliflower, beans too, but be aware that too many veggies are also not good for the curry.
1. Saute/pan-fry the mushrooms and tofu (separately) with a little bit of thai red curry paste and keep aside.
2. Heat up a Wok, add the oil and sautee the red curry paste for a minute. Add 2 Tbsp of Coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass and chilis and continue to stir-fry the paste until the raw smell is gone and oil starts to separate at the edges.
3. Add half of the coconut milk and stock, mix well. Adjust the taste with some salt and sweet chili sauce.
4. Add all the veggies except for bokchoy and broccoli. Let it boil for a few minutes.
5. Once the veggies are almost cooked add the tofu, mushrooms, broccoli and bokchoy. Add the rest of the coconut milk. Add more stock only if need or else the curry will become very thin.
6. Add the basil leaves and kafir lime leaves and let the curry simmer away for another 3-5 minutes. Adjust the flavour with salt and sweet chili sauce. Add the lime juice, stir and taste to check if it has a hint of sourness.
Serving suggestions : Serve the curry in a bowl along with some steamed rice on the side or take a big bowl, put some steamed rice at the bottom and top it off with the curry. Personally, I like the latter as it’s an easy one-bowl meal to have 🙂
Non vegetarians can just substitute the proteins with their choice, eg chicken, prawns or fish. You can also add a dash of fish sauce instead of salt for that pungent, salty flavor.