Easy Green Thai Chicken Curry:
Curry is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of meat and vegetable dishes cooked with spices in a thick or thin sauce-like-gravy. The word “curry” is derived from the Tamil word “Kari” which means “sauce”.
Curries originated in the Indian subcontinent and then became popular in many other countries through colonial ties and as Indian settlers carried their cuisine traditions with them as far as the Caribbean. These curries have been adapted to local tastes mostly and, like elsewhere, South East Asian countries have their own version of curry now which is a melting pot of cuisines from Indian, French, Spanish and Chinese.
If you are a Thai food fan like me, I’m sure you already love the different types of Thai curries, named after their colours – red, yellow and green. Thai curries are rich and fragrant with a beautiful balance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy. They taste like a combination of several overwhelming ingredients but once you become familiar with the basic techniques and ingredients, it’s not really very tricky to cook them at home. The ghee (clarified butter) and other dairy products used in most Indian curries are replaced with coconut oil and milk, and the flavours are enhanced by fresh herbs rather than powdered spices.
If you want to cook Green Thai Chicken Curry at home there are two options;use store bought Thai curry pastes or make your own paste by experimenting a little with locally available ingredients. I prefer the second option because results from paste made with fresh herbs and spices are always better, more flavourful and aromatic.
The staple ingredients of Green Thai Curry Paste are coriander/cilantro roots and green chilli peppers which are, luckily, not very difficult to find.
Some of the more exotic Thai ingredients that are not easily available everywhere can be substituted with a little experiment in the kitchen. This is how I make up for their absence.
Galangal – double the quantity of ginger
Lemon grass – mix lemon zest and leaves
Fish sauce – just increase the quantity of salt
The result shall not be exactly the same but quite close and the curry will pack a big punch of flavour. So there is really no excuse for not cooking Thai food at home anymore!
For Green Thai Chicken Curry:
1/2 kg chicken,boneless, skinless, cut into bite size cubes
1 can coconut milk
1 cup baby corn or chopped aubergines
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
A red chilli pepper, chopped
A few kaffir lime or lemon leaves for garnishing
For Green Thai Curry Paste:
1 cup coriander leaves and roots, chopped
6 green chillies ( for very hot curry, reduce to suit your taste)
2 stalks lemon grass
OR 1 teaspoon lemon zest and 6-8 lemon leaves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon galangal powder or 1 tablespoon chopped galangal
OR 1 big thumb of ginger
5-6 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
Salt to taste
Roast cumin and coriander seeds on a skillet till aromatic. Add them to a food processor along with all the other sauce ingredients or pound in a mortar with pestle for more flavourful sauce. Make a smooth paste.
Add oil on top of the coconut milk can to a saucepan. Heat a few minutes, add the green curry paste and stir for 2-3 minutes.
Add chicken pieces and coat them with sauce, add the stock and cook for a few minutes till the chicken is almost cooked (7-8 minutes).
Add the remaining coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar. Cook 2-3 minutes to blend flavours.
Slice baby corn lengthwise into two halves, add to the curry or add chopped aubergines.
Taste to check the seasonings and balance of flavours. Garnish with lime leaves and chopped red chilli pepper.
Serve hot with plain steamed or jasmine rice.