The recipe I am sharing today is a family favourite. Sort of. Mr.P, Jr.H and I love it. Jr.P hates the aroma of kaffir lime leaves as well as lemongrass. You guessed. He hates it. I have to make two side dishes on days I make Thai curry. This afternoon both Jr.H and Jr.P were at home, and when I started pounding the ingredients for the curry paste this is what transpired. One could not get enough of the fresh, sharp smells and came sniffing the air hard. The other came in with the longest face on the planet.
I used a ‘silpatta’ or ‘ammi kallu’ – a flat stone platform with a heavy stone roller’ for pounding the paste.
The pounding takes a fair bit of muscle but the paste is much more delicious and aromatic than the one ground in a mixer. It took me a good half hour to make the paste. The coriander roots and galangal being tough and fibrous make it a little difficult. As you can see the paste is not as smooth as shop-bought paste. That is because it is hand pounded. Fresh, sans preservatives, colour or E numbers. What would you choose?
I have mostly followed directions from the recipe given by Jamie Oliver here, but modified it to find my balance. I highly recommend the grilling method for the vegetables. It enhances the taste, and the slightly charred babycorns have to be salvaged if you want them in the curry. They get eaten up if grilled and left unattended!
Dish: Thai green curry with homemade green curry paste
Yield: Serves 4 persons
Zucchini, quartered lengthwise and chopped into medium sized chunks – 1
Red pepper, deseeded and chopped into medium sized chunks – 1
Baby corn – 10-12
Olive oil – 1-2 teaspoon
Fresh red chilli, any thin variety, chopped fine – 1 or more if you would like more heat
Sesame oil – 1 teaspoon
Freshly expressed coconut milk – 2.5 cups, second extract
Makroot lime, only zest – 2 teaspoons
Spring onion greens, chopped fine – 1 tablespoon
Red chilli, chopped fine – 1 (to garnish)
Palm sugar – 1 teaspoon (or to taste)
Salt to taste
Green curry paste
Lemongrass – 2 stalks, only the tough portion at the bottom of the grass
Spring onion bulbs – 2
Thai green chillies – 2
Garlic cloves – 2
Fresh galangal – 3 cms (note on how to use galangal follows)
Fresh coriander roots with a little stalk – About 15
Dry coriander seeds, roasted without oil till aromatic – 1 teaspoon
Fresh kaffir lime leaves – 4
Soy sauce – 1/2 teaspoon (can be omitted if allergic)
Prepare the vegetables:
Pre-heat oven at 200 deg. C. for ten minutes.
Line tray with foil. Brush with a little olive oil. Place chopped vegetables on the foil and top with a teaspoon of olive oil, tossing the vegetables. Sprinkle with a little rock salt and bake for 20 minutes till done and slightly charred. I baked the baby corns again for 10 minutes charring them well. Set aside till needed.
While the vegetables bake in the oven make the curry paste:
Cut the stalks of lemon grass, spring onion bulbs and galangal into rough pieces. Cut or scissor the kaffir lime leaves into thin strips. Place on washed and dried ‘ammikallu’ or a stone mortar and add the other ingredients listed under ‘curry paste’. Start pounding, and don’t stop for the next 30-40 minutes, till it looks like this. Not smooth.
If you would prefer it easy, use a mixer. Don’t say it tasted different. It will. The curry paste will appear a dull olive green.
Make the curry:
Heat oil in a wok. When hot add the vegetables and the curry paste and stir well to coat, about 1-2 minutes.
Add the coconut milk. Stir well and bring to a boil on low heat.
Add spring onion greens, lime zest and palm sugar. Taste and add salt as per your need. I used 1 teaspoon of pink salt. Taste again and balance if needed. Let cook for a minute and remove from fire.
Before serving garnish with chopped red chillies.
Thai green curry may be served with steamed rice or with Thai rice noodles. I used jasmine rice, but it tastes as good with kolam rice. I like the rice to have separate grains, and cook it open rather than pressure cook.
How to use galangal:
Galangal is a rhizome used extensively in many Asian countries, especially in and around Thailand. It has a very strong, peppery flavour and is a very hard root with bone like projections. It is pink and brown, and softer when fresh as compared to dry. Though it lasts long when refrigerated (for a week), it becomes tough. Galangal may be used either crushed or chopped into matchsticks, but it needs to be trimmed first. Remove the top layer of brown skin, and if the shoots (projections) are tough, simply discard them. It can be crushed using a mortar and pestle, or chopped with a kitchen knife.
I don’t think it can be substituted with ginger as the flavours are very different but if you must, ginger is the thing recommended by most chefs.
Sourcing ingredients, and suggested substitution:
If you live in Thane you will find fresh kaffir lime leaves, thai chillies and galangal at Hypercity on Ghodbunder Road, Godrej Nature’s Basket at Hiranandani Estate or at Korum Mall next to Eastern Express Highway at the vegetable counter. Makroot limes are not available in Thane. Mr.P bought them at Foodhall in Palladium.
Regular lime instead of makroot lime
Ginger instead of galangal (it is not the same but unavailability should not be a deterrent)
Regular chillies instead of Thai green chillies (thin, dark green, spicy ones are recommended)
If allergic to soy, omit it.
Vegetables I use:
Broccoli, yellow and white pumpkins, yellow or green zucchini, yellow or green peppers, apart from the vegetables used in the above recipe.
Tofu is a good addition too if you would like to add. I recommend toasting it on a tawa till the edges brown before adding.
Note: Thai green curry does not look green. It is actually very pale olive with a tinge of brown.