This recipe for Thai Chicken Curry was sent in by Swati Varma and is supposed to take about 30 minutes of total preparation time. I remember occasionally cooking and eating something similar to this a few years ago, but it had fewer ingredients and was simpler to prepare. It was made from a seasoning packet sold under the Sun-Bird brand (cost ranged from 55 cents up to about a dollar) and called “Thai Red Curry”. According to the instructions on the back of the package, the only ingredients required other than the seasoning packet were the chicken (cubed, boneless, skinless), some water to mix the seasoning with, and some sliced red bell pepper. It was suggested that the water could be substituted with coconut milk “for a more authentic taste”. In my experience the coconut milk made a pretty big difference to the final taste and was much preferred.
Swati’s recipe below is probably more authentic than the pre-packaged stuff but if you are in the USA (or perhaps another Western country) some of the ingredients may be difficult to find. I did not even know what ‘galangal’ was, for instance, until I looked it up earlier today and found out that it is a root related to ginger but with a distinctly different taste. Other ingredients like fish sauce and shrimp paste are occasionally available in supermarkets but can be rather expensive. Nevertheless, if I can track down a local Asian market or come up with acceptable substitutes, this is one I would like to try.
This recipe requires about 30 minutes to prepare. It will serve 3 to 4 persons. The ingredients required are:
- ½ chicken chopped into medium pieces
- Vegetables: 2 bell peppers, a handful of cherry tomatoes, broccoli
- 1 can coconut milk
- 3 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 tsp. shrimp paste
- 4-5 cloves
- 1-3 green chilies
- 1 chopped shallot or 1/4 cup purple onion
- 1 lemongrass stalk or 3 tbsp. frozen lemongrass
- 1 thumb-sized piece galangal, sliced
- 1 cup fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
- 1 tbsp. lime juice
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 3-4 lime leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh Thai basil
You will be able to find all the above ingredients in the Asian market near to your home.
We shall start by thinly slicing the lower half of the lemongrass stalk. Mince the slices by using knife or pestle & mortar. The upper half can be cut into long segments and added to the curry for extra flavor later. If you are using frozen lemongrass, then substitute with 3 tablespoons of this.
To prepare the green curry paste, blend the minced lemongrass with garlic, chilies, shallot, galangal, fresh coriander, ground coriander, ground cumin, white pepper, fish sauce, shrimp paste, lime juice, sugar, and 1/4 cup of the coconut milk. If you are using a blender instead of a food processor, you may need to add a little more coconut milk.
Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large frying pan over medium-high flame. Add the green curry paste to the pan and stir-fry for about 1 minute. Add the rest of the coconut milk from the can. Continue to stir.
Now chicken can be added to the pan. Make sure you are using boneless chicken chopped to pieces of medium size. Anything else and Thai curry is just not Thai curry! Add the leftover lemongrass. Also, to get the extra flavor, fresh lime leaves can be added to the dish. Bring to a boil and then cook on a simmer. Stir occasionally.
It is now time to add the vegetables. Cook for about 10 more minutes or so until the vegetables have become soft and the chicken is well cooked.
If you think that you prefer less of a curry taste, add some more coconut milk or dairy cream. Check salt and spices to your taste. Garnish with fresh basil if you like the flavor. Serve with steamed rice. Enjoy your meal!