Thai-Style Red Curry and an Introduction into Thai Cuisine

This Thai-Style Red Curry made with chicken and chickpeas is an explosion of flavours that can be made vegan with a few adjustments. Whilst this curry is certainly on the spicier side you can easily adjust the heat level to fit your needs. It is a super weeknight friendly meal and all the ingredients can easily be sourced at your local supermarket.

Thai cuisine consists of a manifold of dishes with various local and cultural influences, often with strong aromatic components and a spicy edge. Curries are among the best well-known dishes Thai cuisine has to offer and the ingredients vary from region to region. What all Thai curries have in common are the use of coconut milk and curry paste to make this creamy dish often accompanied by rice and bread. The curry paste is often made with fresh ingredients with a mortar and pestle, which are often missing in modern household, before quickly roasted in a hot pan and doused with coconut milk. They can be made with any protein or vegetable and vary in heat.

• Yellow Thai Curry (Kaeng Kari): Thai chilies, shallots, garlic, lime zest, green pepper cilantro, salt (mild)
• Red Thai Curry (Kaeng Phet): high percentage of red chilies, shallots, cumin, cilantro, garlic, galangal, salt, shrimp paste (medium)
• Green Thai Curry (Kaeng Khiao Wan): made with 50% green chilies, other ingredients vary (hot)

Honestly I would have thought that green would be the medium hot curry. I am very glad that I did a little research on Thai curries before taking the plunge into this red curry. Whereas I have probably beaten spice level wimp with this curry, I still very much consider myself a newbie when it comes to spicy food. Attempting a green curry would most likely have lead to an explosion of sorts.

I called this curry Thai-styled because I don’t want to claim that I know how to make Thai food, I’ve actually never had it. I’ve heard about it on TV sometimes and I was interested in trying it. I live in a rural area, so if I want to try something foreign (I called this blog Culinary Tripping for a reason) I have to make it myself. I also don’t have access to a lot of ingredients and no Asian markets in the area. I have no idea whether or not I like cilantro because it is so hard to find, and only recently have I seen fresh lemongrass in the supermarket for the first time. Although this might be the case for a lot of people the ingredients in this recipe should be easily sourced at any local supermarket. It does not require making the curry paste from scratch hence it is Thai-style. Sometimes you just have to improvise with what you have access to and this dish will certainly satisfy your Thai curry craving with minimal effort. Should you have access to all the ingredients needed to make a fresh curry paste feel free to do so, but when in a pinch a store-bought spice blend or curry paste will do the trick. It really depends on your needs and preferences. I have thoroughly enjoyed my quick dip into Thai cuisine and will definitely be back for more, even if I have to navigate a lack of certain ingredients.

Spicy-Style Thai Red Curry

Ingredients:
• Oil
• 200 gr turkey breast, strips (omit to make it vegan)
• 1 dried chili pod (optional for more heat)
• 1 onion, diced
• ½ red bell pepper, strips
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1 cup garbanzo beans (double for vegan curry)
• 1-2 tsps Thai curry spice blend or red curry paste
• salt
• Lemon grass (dried or fresh)
• 1 can of coconut milk
• 1 tbl Lime juice
• 2 tsp sugar
• Soy or fish sauce
• Parsley or cilantro

Instructions:
1. Let some oil come to high temperature in a large pan or wok.
2. Skip this step to make it vegan. Add the meat to the pan and let it brown. Season the meat with some salt and remove it from t the pan, dry aside for later.
3. Sauté the onions and bell peppers in the pan until the onions are translucent. Add a dried chili pod for extra heat during this step (optional).
4. Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.
5. Add the garbanzo beans and brown the lightly, during occasionally to keep the onions from burning.
6. Add the meat back to the pan and roast the Thai curry blend for a few seconds.
7. Add the coconut milk and let it come to a boil. When using fresh lemon grass, bruise it and throw it into the coconut milk. When using dried lemongrass, fill a teaspoon into a teabag or tea egg and leave it to infuse.
8. Season curry with lime juice, soy sauce and salt to taste.
9. Right before serving remove all aromatics from the curry and add freshly chopped (or dried) parsley or coriander.
10. Serve with rice or flatbread.

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