Thai curry is made from paste, coconut milk or water and then seafood/meat/poultry/vegetables and fresh herbs are added. Thai curries differ from their Indian cousins thanks to their use of fresh ingredients like herbs and aromatic leaves rather than spices.
Common ingredients of curry pastes are:
– Chillies (the type of curry will determine whether dried or fresh, red or green are used) – Shrimp paste – Onions/shallots – Garlic – Coriander (cilantro) root – Lemongrass – Galangal
Other ingredients sometimes added include spices like turmeric, pepper and cumin and perhaps the less attractive sounding boiled fermented fish. The ingredients are then grounded together in a mortar and pestle – this is not as easy as it sounds! Prepare to get a good arm workout doing this! The paste is then stir fried in cooking oil (it is important to use this and not water as the oil releases all of the spices from the paste). In Thai, a “Thai curry” is known as kaeng/gaeng but the word “curry” is kari. Dishes that use the Indian style of spices are known as phong kari or kaeng kari. Similar to most cultures, curries are traditionally eaten with rice in Thailand – jasmine rice in the south and central Thailand and sticky rice in the north and north east regions. There are many popular Thai curries, but these are the most popular, and indeed some of our favourites:
Green curry: as with many of the Thai curries, the name of this dish derives from it’s name – it also probably goes without saying that green as opposed to red chillies are used in this dish! Green curry originates from central Thailand and is sometimes called “sweet green” curry. The dish isn’t necessarily always sweet, but it is milder than the red curries.
Penang: it is thought this is named after the Malaysian island of Penang and thanks to the generous use of coconut milk, it is a creamy and therefore generally milder dish.
Red curry: also known as spicy curry! Even though this is one of the hotter curries, it can be made milder by increasing the amount of coconut milk used. Rather interestingly, red curry paste is also the core ingredients for dishes like Chiang Mai sausage and fish cakes.
Jungle curry: probably the spiciest Thai curry there is – this one is not for beginners! This originates from the northern part of Thailand, hence why the dish is so spicy as coconuts, the ingredients which traditionally make curries milder, are not found in this region. Pork is often used in this dish.
Yellow curry: the creamiest of all of the Thai curries as not only is coconut milk used, but so is coconut cream! Not great for the waistline, but certainly delicious!
Well, that has got our appetites going now – we’re off to order a penang curry. Or maybe a green one. Or perhaps both? Please don’t judge! Are you a fan of Thai curry? Which one is your favourite?