A Different Spice: Thai Red Chicken Curry

When you hear the word curry, you might immediately associate it with Indian cuisine. Quite admittedly, its roots may be traced back to India, a land rich with spices. However, most countries have their own versions of curry. Where exactly it originated is always going to be a hot debate topic. 

One that’s quite popular is the Thai Red Chicken Curry. Not to be confused with its equally popular sibling, the Thai Green Chicken Curry, of course.

Authentically Thai

Being the only country in Southeast Asia that was not colonized by the Europeans, the Thais were able to preserve their culture’s cooking style with sprinkles of influences from neighboring countries here and there.

Along with the establishment of European trading routes and Thailand’s unique position as a neutral territory, more ingredients were introduced that would later on become a significant part of Thai cuisine. 

 

An Herby Contrast

As the Portuguese missionaries introduced the “Chili” spice to the Thai, the flavor was incorporated to what can be best described as the Thai signature flavor palette: the fresh herbs. Typically, these are lemongrass or galangal (both of which are used in the Thai Red Chicken Curry).

The Thai meal cleverly incorporates salty, sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. When eating Thai dishes, one can expect a burst of spice whose burn will last briefly, followed by the perfect balance of salty, sweet, and sour dancing on your taste buds.

Making Thai Red Chicken Curry

Now that our little Thai Curry history lesson is through, it’s time to get in the kitchen and make that spicy craving!

 

Recipe:

½ kg chicken thighs, boneless cut into 1-inch chunks

 

Curry Paste:

16 pcs dried chillies, deseeded, chopped, and soaked in hot water for 30 mins.

2 tbsp lemongrass, sliced white part only

1 thumb galangal (or ginger if not available), grated

4 cloves garlic

1 tbsp shrimp paste/bagoong

½ tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin

3 tbsp coriander/cilantro leaves and stems

1 pc small red onion, chopped

zest of 1 lime

¼ cup reserved chili soaking water

 

Thai Red Curry:

2 tbsp canola oil

1 cup chicken broth

2 cups coconut milk

6 pc kaffir lime leaves

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp sugar

¼ kg squash, peeled and sliced

100 grams green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces

10 pcs thai basil leaves

 

Procedure:

  1. Blend all the curry paste ingredients until smooth. 
  2. In a pan with hot oil, cook the paste over low heat until the mixture has reduced by half and the paste has almost dried.
  3.  Add chicken thighs and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken broth and coconut milk. 
  4. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add Kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, sugar, and squash. Simmer for 3-5 minutes or until squash is tender. Add green beans, simmer for 1 minute. Off heat, add basil, and serve.
Erwan Heussaff
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