I have always lived far. In Delhi I was far away from school, far from tuition classes, so far that my house was in a suburb of a suburb. This pattern filtered into college too. My senior year I lived in the farthest, most secluded apartment building. To be honest, I loved it. Being far meant being away from the mess and living a quiet place. In Delhi, I have a beautiful house amongst verdant greens with all kinds of birds laying their eggs in the crevices of our outer wall, and in college I had the best view. Being far however has its downsides. I always had to travel to meet my friends because all the restaurants were on their side of town. Building a social life therefore was hard. However, all of that changed once I started cooking. In college, friends trekked all the way to my apartment be it rain or shine because I was feeding them. It was kinda nice. I mean, obviously they were coming for my great company but I didn’t mind cooking (yeah, I know it was probably the other way around).
I soon became in charge of the Friday meals. Butter chicken, stews, lasagna, shawarma were things I started cooking a lot because they fed a lot more people. Filling, wholesome food that may or may not be the best pregame meal but hey it made people happy and I always had leftovers. Thai curries are super easy to make. My parents made them with the pre-packaged pastes back when I was in high school and so I always had a palette for what a good curry should taste like. I however always found the pre-packaged pastes to be too overpowering. They tend to have a lot of sugar, salt, stabilizing agents, and food coloring– all things you can definitely do without. Plus, none of the ingredients are “exotic” enough anymore that you have to use the paste to get the authentic flavor. That being said, Thai people- if you ponder upon this recipe I am sorry. It probably isn’t authentic but its the flavors that I like.
There are two things that are important for this recipe. Firstly, the green curry paste you make needs to be made fresh. It’s the only way to attain that lightness that a fat heavy curry like this tends to have. Add local tropical herbs– Coriander, mint, basil, holy basil, green onions, kaffir lime etc. You don’t have to go out and look for the most authentic Thai ingredients. If you can’t find lemongrass substitute with lime. Use green chillies instead of red, lime zest instead of kaffir lime leaves, you get the idea. The aim is to make it fragrant and green using naturally green herbs and vegetables.
Secondly, get your hands on the best fish sauce possible. Now this needs to be authentic. Thailand is one of the largest exporters of this amazingly salty sauce. It’s made by fermenting fish in brine and adds so much flavor to any dish. But this stew needs this. It cuts the fat of the milk, it adds salt because we don’t salt the food otherwise and it increases the aromatics of the lime, garlic, and ginger almost filling your house with an amazing smell that your grandmother scolds you for because all she smells is rotting fish (she is wrong, trust me).
Apart from this, I don’t know what else to tell you. Its a super easy dish. If you think you’re going wrong, you aren’t. You’re just making creative modifications 🙂
ps: don’t boil the coconut milk because it will denature
pps: don’t add lemon to very hot coconut milk, or it will make coconut ricotta cheese
pps: always hug your grandmother after spilling fish sauce on yourself so that she smells of rotten fish the whole day.
1 cup of coriander with stalks
1/4 cup mint leaves (no stalk)
3 green chillies (Thai red chillies work too)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Ginger the size of your thumb nail. Peeled and chopped
4 green onions finely chopped
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 a lime worth of juice or a stalk of lemon grass pressed down until aromatic
2 teaspoons of lime zest or a few kaffir lime leaves
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
For the stew
3 (about 450 grams) chicken breasts or thighs
600 ml of Coconut milk
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of Honey (optional)
2 tablespoons of Sriracha (optional)
150 grams (about 8) large cremini mushrooms
1 large carrot
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1 cup of Broccoli florets
11/2 cup Basmati Rice
Start by making the paste. Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blitz it down to a coarse paste. It will not look like something you get in a jar because this have very little oil but trust the process
Take the chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and rub well on both sides. In a flat bottom pot add half the veggie oil and let it heat. Place the chicken skin side down and let them cook 2 minutes on each side. The idea is for the skin to get color but it to be uncooked on the inside. The insides will cook later in the stew.
Once cooked, let the chicken sit out for about 10 minutes and then cut into thin slices. Add the rest of the oil, the paste and vegetables. stir fry on high heat until the carrots start becoming a little soft.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add coconut milk. Add chicken, fish sauce, Sriracha, and honey. Mix and let the stew bubble. Shut off heat and taste the curry. Add more Sriracha if you want more heat or add more honey if it’s too hot. Serve with Basmati rice.