[This article was originally published in Zomppa, an International food magazine.]
Thai cuisine uses a variety of curry pastes, such as the red, yellow and the green ones. Every paste tastes unique. I love Thai Green curry a lot and it is among the best non-Indian curries I have ever tasted. In fact, I judge a Thai restaurant by the taste of this curry. So far, I am quite impressed by few authentic Thai restaurants in Hong Kong (my favourites being Sweet Basil in Whampoa Garden and Thai Basil in Pacific Place), which serve superb Thai green curry. When I eat there, I am always transformed to a different world such is the intensity of this curry! I took a note of which vegetables these restaurants used for making this. I also noted that it can be cooked with chicken, pork or duck! I really loved the one with succulent duck meat since we rarely get duck meat in India. Needless to say, duck meat tastes amazing! In addition, this is the season when you get to see a lot of roast ducks freshly made each day in the street markets in Hong Kong. So I decided to buy some roast duck breast from one of these tempting shops, serving just roast meat of different kinds, and get started for an out-of-the-world curry experience!
[Interesting variations: Try using a little of this paste in your regular bread dough, in any savoury batter for deep frying or in your paratha (flatbread) dough for that spicy punch!]
Thai Green Curry Paste
- Green chillies: 10
- Coriander powder: 1 tsp
- Shallots: 70 g
- Garlic: 40 g
- Cumin powder: ½ tsp
- Roasted belacan: 1 tsp
- Galangal slices: 2
- Coriander roots (not leaves): 10 g
- Mint leaves: 20 g
- Lemongrass: 2 stalks
- Kaffir lime leaves: 3
- Kaffir Lime zest: 1 lime
- Sweet basil: 40 g
- Black peppercorns: ½ tsp
- ½-inch fresh turmeric root: 1
Blend all the ingredients to a fine paste and store in the refrigerator.
Now that the green curry paste is ready, let’s make this authentic Thai curry at home: so nutritious and scrumptious and less than half the price of restaurant-bought green curry!
There are certain points, however, to be kept in mind while making this curry.
- Choose baby duck breast which should be juicy enough after roasting. Over-roasting or cooking the pieces of duck meat for a long time in the green curry changes the flavor and texture of duck meat, which becomes hard and rubbery. Roasting should be just perfect, so that the meat inside the skin is succulent and, in no case, dry. If you are not sure of whether you’ll get a perfectly roast chunk of duck breast, simply replace this with boneless chicken thigh pieces.
- To save time, commercial Thai green curry pastes can be used. But if you get all the fresh ingredients handy, nothing beats homemade Thai green curry paste!
- Lemongrass is not the same as lemon juice and has a sharp lemony aroma, minus the sour taste. If you do not get this ingredient, do the following (my own lemongrass substitute): mix juice of one lemon, five drops of lemon essence and ¼ tsp granulated sugar. This is equivalent to the effect of two lemongrass stalks. But, fresh lemongrass is undoubtedly unbeatable. Alternatively, use store-bought green curry paste of a reputed brand.
- If you note the green curry paste ingredients carefully, you will notice that there are three green-coloured ingredients: green chillies, sweet basil and little mint. Without these three, your curry would not be green. So do not omit these. Do not use cilantro leaves for making the paste green.
- If after adding all the ingredients, you discover that the green curry is too spicy for you, add a little brown sugar to the boiling curry, but do not overdo this process.
- If you get fresh (or canned) straw mushrooms, you are lucky. Go for it. If not, even white button mushrooms are okay.
Thai green curry with roasted duck
[The recipe serves 5–6 people.]
- Roast duck breast (with skin; sliced): 250 g
- Thai aubergines (cut into half): 5
- Babycorns (cut into half, lengthwise): 6
- Plum tomatoes: 8
- Green bell peppers (cubed into medium-sized pieces): 1
- Snow peas: 8
- Halved straw mushrooms (can be replaced with white button mushrooms): 8, if straw; 5, if button mushrooms
- Pumpkin (cubed and skin removed): 8
- French beans (chopped into medium-sized pieces): 5Thailand longans: 8
- Coconut milk: 400 ml
- Fish sauce: 1 tbsp
- Warm water: 1 cup
- Sweet basil: 7–8
- Salt: According to taste
Heat the oil. Add 5 tbsp Thai green curry paste (recipe above) in 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Lower the heat and add the coconut milk, stirring continuously until the coconut milk starts separating oil.
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