Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gaeng Daeng - Thai Red Curry

The Thai meal I had mentioned a couple of posts back had one of my favourites - Thai Red Curry. Nothing as satisfying as a well made Thai Red Curry - the curry redolent of the spices and herbs and made creamy with coconut milk - but not cloyingly so. I seem to prefer the Red Curry to the Green Curry and while I can't exactly pinpoint where the preference stems from, I think it might be due to the fact that the flavours are much more subtle in this one.

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.

Red Curry

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.


Asha said...

Slurp! Gravy with red Thai curry looks so delicious, love the baby corns in there! :)

indosungod said...

I am ready for Thai any time but a confession I prefer the chicken to the veg. versions.
I seem to order the red curry compared to the green curry.

Cham said...

Looks like an excellent dinner! Like the curry over the rice!

Arch said... thai curries..this one is lovely...

Sig said...

Thai curry is my dining out comfort food. Some steamed rice and a bowl of hot red/green curry does it for me every time! Your version looks lovely!

Miri said...

Indo - I seem to love the flavours that the veggies impart to this curry!
Sig - same here - it appeals to my genes I guess :)


Soma said...

how smart of you to replace the kaffir lime leaves with gandraj ones.we had a gandraj in our garden when i was little, & it's the heaven even the bloom smells so soothing!
I like everything that u put in there, delicious.

Pooja said...

I love Thai red curry..this looks delicious Miri :)

Vaishali said...

How beautiful, Miri. Great to have a vegan recipe for Thai red curry paste, and especially one so flavorful.

Anonymous said...

Awesome, I searched the net for the Thai Red gravy and the one you have given is complete out of 7-8 that I read through - Gary @ New Delhi India

Miri said...

Thanks Gary - glad it helped!