I grew up in a house that only knew one type of curry: mild. “Cartwrights Medium”, to be exact. My Mom used to cook fragrant chicken curries, beef curries, lamb curries, mince curries – all using that same simple spice mixture. I loved it, because it was sweet (she always added chutney to it) and very flavoursome, but I only discovered much later in life that “curry powder” is not a spice. It is actually a Western term given to a prepared mixture of spices. Dishes called “curry” usually refer to meat, fish or vegetables cooked in a gravy that are made from these spice mixtures.
The first time I ate at a proper Indian restaurant, I was literally blown away. I couldn’t believe that there were such a vast array of flavour combinations available in Indian cuisine, and that I’ve been missing out on it for most of my life! “Curry” quickly became one of my favourite foods, and I became more and more adventurous as my taste buds adjusted to the magnificent heat that sometimes came along with it. Not only did I enjoy Indian and Cape Malay curries, but also discovered the Thai version – a lighter, fresher take on what I was used to, using a paste made from fresh green chillies, fresh ginger and lots of fresh coriander. Blended with coconut milk or cream, it became one of my absolute favourite comfort-food dishes, and I now make it very regularly for my family.
You can use any kind of meat for this recipe: chicken works very well, but also try prawns, fish, or vegetables. It is excellent served on fragrant sticky Thai rice, and keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days. To entertain a large crowd, feel free to make the curry a day in advance, as the flavours tend to become even better the day after.
- 2-3 fresh green chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
- 2 T chopped fresh ginger
- 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
- 1 t (5 ml) dried fine coriander
- 1/2 t (2.5 ml) dried fine cumin
- handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
- 2-3 T (30-45 ml) water
- 2 T (30 ml) vegetable oil
- 1 can coconut milk
- 4 chicken breasts, skinless, sliced into thin strips
- 1 t (5 ml) sugar
- a few drops fish sauce
- 1 t (5 ml) lemon/lime juice
- salt to taste
- fresh coriander for garnish
- Thai rice to serve with
- In a food processor (or using a mortar & pestle), add chillies, ginger, garlic, dried coriander, cumin, fresh coriander and process to a paste. Add a few tablespoons of water to created a more workable consistency.
- In a large saucepan or wok, heat oil over high heat. Add paste all at once, frying quickly for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add coconut milk, turn heat down to medium, and bring to a simmer. Now add sliced chicken and cook in liquid for 5 minutes, covered.
- Add sugar, fish sauce, lemon/lime juice, and season well with salt. Simmer for another 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
- Serve on Thai rice, and top with fresh coriander leaves.
Tip: The sauce will remain quite runny – that is how it is supposed to be. For a thicker, creamier consistency, use coconut cream.
This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.
Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.
Pictures: Tasha Seccombe.
Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.