Curry 101

Making a curry is one of my favourite things to do. There’s so much room for interpretation and personalization. The base recipe I use was originally for a chicken massaman curry I learned to make when I went to Thailand last year. Since then, I’ve adopted the style and use it as my own recipe that will work with any kind of curry paste you can get your hands on. It’s well balanced and works with any protein/vegetable combination you have available. Chicken and potatoes? Done. Meatballs and pumpkin? No problem. Whatever you have left sitting in your kitchen will work perfectly with this dish. Makes 6-8 portions with rice. Please note that this recipe is proportional and should be used as a rough guide. Cook to your taste and with the ingredients you have. It’s not gospel.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg of protein – Beef mince works surprisingly well. Dark meat can be cut into inch cubes which become tender the longer they are cooking in the sauce. White meat, like chicken thighs, should be cut slightly smaller
  • 1 kg of vegetables – Root vegetables work best. Try to stay away from incorporating green vegetables directly into the sauce. Root vegetables should be cut down to roughly two cubic centimetres to help cook them faster
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • Cooking oil
  • Curry paste – I use a Thai red curry paste, but anything you have will work just as well
  • 2 cans of coconut cream/milk
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp palm sugar
    • Note: Palm sugar can be purchased in multiple forms, including a paste. If you have cubes of palm sugar, use about 1 cubic centimetre
  • Tamarind paste
  • Coriander – fresh or dried works equally well
  • 300g peanuts – unsalted works best, but the difference is minimal so use what you’ve got
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese Five Spice – this incorporates cinnamon and cloves, as well as a few other spices that blend really well with the sauce

Method

  1. Dice an onion. Put a large frypan or wok over medium heat. Add enough oil to cover the base of the pan with a small amount of excess. Add the onion and garlic and sautee until the onions change colour and the garlic is fragrant.
  2. Add your meat and vegetables. Keep them moving to prevent burning. Once the meat has colour on all sides, add two or three tablespoons of curry paste and two cans of coconut milk or cream. Stir until the sauce turns one colour.
  3. Add the fish sauce, palm sugar, Chinese Five Spice, tamarind paste and coriander. If you are using dried coriander, add two or three teaspoons. If you have fresh coriander, cut off the bottom of the stalks minus the white roots. Mince the stalks and add them to the sauce. The remaining coriander can be roughly chopped and used to garnish at the end to add additional flavour.
  4. Continually taste the sauce to make sure the flavours are balanced. Once the vegetables can be pushed through with a fork or the flat of a knife, and the meat (if you are not using mince) is tender, the curry is ready to eat.
  5. Roughly chop the peanuts and add them to the sauce. Cook for the last few minutes and serve with rice.
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