The curry that I made was vegetarian and while red curry seems to be associated more with meat and the sweeter green curry with vegetables, that is probably an association shaped from restaurant menus than any culinary tradition per se. In fact, as this beautiful pictorial post about Thai Red Curry tells us - red curry is the household standby which uses readily available ingredients and is often made with vegetables like white Thai eggplant, bamboo shoots and green beans. I used babycorn, bell peppers, tofu and mushrooms and they went very well with the curry.
The curry pastes used for each curry in Thai cuisine are distinctive because of their ingredients and are key to making sure that one doesn't taste like the other. Fortunately it has become easier in the past decade to get most of the ingredients needed for Thai cooking, in India. So basil, galangal and lemon grass can be found at the bigger supermarkets or even some of the local markets in the bigger cities. I substitute Gandhraj lemon leaves for the kaffir lime leaves ans their amazing aroma along with freshly squeezed coconut milk, seals the deal for me!
Packaged Thai curry paste can of course be used to make this dish, but with just a little planning to assemble the ingredients, you can have Thai curry made from scratch and the difference is just too obvious to miss. This lip smacking curry goes to Vaishali's Its a Vegan World - which is being hosted by Priya of Akshayapatram this month and who has zeroed in on Thai cuisine as the flavour of the month.
Gaeng Daeng - Thai Red Curry
Red Curry Paste
8 kashmiri red chillies, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
3 dried red chillies, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
5 small onions (sambar onions) chopped
4 garlic cloves , peeled and chopped
1 " galangal chopped
2 stalks lemon grass chopped
2 stalks coriander leaves
3 Gandharaj lemon leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
Drain the water used to soak the chillies and grind to a paste in a mixie. Store the paste in an air tight container and freeze.
6 tbsp red curry paste
3 cups coconut milk
(Grate 1/2 fresh coconut and grind with 1.5 cup warm water, squeeze and strain the first milk and keep aside. Grind the coconut again with 2.5 cups warm water, squeeze and strain the second milk and keep aside separately)
3 Gandharaj leaves, torn
2 cups vegetables sliced long (I used mushrooms, bell peppers and babycorn)
1/2 cup tofu cubes
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oil
salt to taste
1. Heat oil in a pan, add the red curry paste and lightly saute for 3 minutes.
2. Add the mixed vegetables, saute on high for 2 minutes and add the second (thinner) coconut milk and tofu sauce and simmer for 10 minutes till the vegetables are tender.
3. Add the tofu, adjust the seasoning and then pour in the first extract of coconut milk, simmer along with the lemon leaves for 3-4 minutes and remove from fire.
4. Serve hot with steamed rice.