I've made thai curries and noodles at home, but it was always using the store bought pastes. So this month, with the pretext of being the host I pushed myself to make the curry pastes at home. Apart from those, I also wanted to look for the recipes that I wasn't familiar with. Going by the fact that a mere 10-15% of Indian food gets showcased in restaurants, I knew that thai food too would have many gems waiting to be uncovered. Looking at the various entries coming in, its clear that many of you also did the same too, and tried newer dishes in your kitchens. It was also surprising to see the diversity and cultural influence each country has on another. There were salsa's that I only thought existed in Mexican food, the spring rolls that we usually attach to Chinese food and our very own samosa's being a popular Thai street food.
While flipping through recipes in Vatcharin Bhumichitr's 'Thai vegetarian cooking', a recipe for chickpea curry caught my eye. I love chickpeas in all their forms - plainly cooked as a flavor packed sundal, or a spice filled choley, a tangy chaat or tikki, toasted up as a cricpy snack or pureed into a hummus, its versatile and enjoyable in every preparation. And a Thai inspired dish can surely not be left out without a warm welcome into my kitchen.
The book mentions that this recipe comes from a Buddhist monastery located West of the capital city, Bangkok. The monks in the temple follow a vegetarian diet and so include a lot of beans and tofu to add protein to their meal. Simmered with fragrant cilantro and potent garlic in a mild coconut sauce, spiced with peppercorns and hints of basil, this is a recipe you must add to your repertoire. I made slight changes to the recipe, it also called for potatoes but I skipped them. And this curry tastes better the longer it sits.
This curry is so easy to put together and tastes fabulous. It even beats my quick choley, with no onions to chop and no'cook-onion-tomato-until-oil-separates' step! Since it uses minimal ingredients, all of them shine through and you see what each one adds to the dish. The only heat in this recipe comes from the peppercorns and the subtle basil leaves taste lovely in this dish. I had this with quinoa instead of rice and it tasted just as good or even better :)Thai style Chickpea curryIngredients:
(Gaeng Kari Tua)
- 1 cup - Chickpeas, canned or pre-soaked and cooked dry beans
- 2 nos - Tomatoes, medium sized
- 1 tbsp - Cilantro roots, finely chopped (I used the tender stems instead)
- 1 tsp - Garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 -1 tsp - Peppercorns, coarsely ground
- 1/2 tsp - Curry powder/garam masala
- 3/4 cup - Coconut milk - I used the lite version
- 1 Tbsp - Tamari, low sodium
- 6-8 nos - Basil leaves, lightly torn
- 3/4 Tbsp - Oil
- 1 tsp - Sugar
- Salt to taste
- Mince together the cilantro stems and garlic, add the coarsely ground peppercorns to this and pound together. Heat oil in a pan, add the fry this paste for a couple of minutes on medium heat.
- Add coconut milk and stir well to incorporate the paste. Add all the remaining ingredients to this and simmer for ~10-13 mins until the chickpeas soak up all the flavors and become tender. Garnish with a few more basil leaves and serve warm with jasmine rice.
I also made this fantastic fried rice a couple of nights back. A few weekends back I took on the task of preparing the curry pastes at home, I referred to a bunch of recipes, but mainly used the recipes given by the Jugalbandits. I used the penang curry paste in this fried rice since it was the milder of the curry pastes I made. Fried rice I think is one of those dishes that has as many recipes as there are cooks. Each one is unique in its own way, but the one thing they have in common is flavor and short cooking times, and this one is no exception :)
This was a very flavorful rice, I made it when my brother was here this weekend and he enjoyed it too. The fresh curry paste adds a lot of fragrance, flavor and freshness to the rice. The best part is you can add a ton of veggies and it will taste fab in this dish. I had made some potstickers that night and added a couple of spoonfuls of leftover filling to the rice. I had used the same set of veggies along with some crumbled tofu to fill them and so they gelled well with the flavors in the fried rice. The basil I used on both these dishes came from my tiny patio garden. After killing the first plant, I got another one and its been doing great so far, been more than week, yippieee :DThai Basil fried rice
(Khao Pad Krapow)Ingredients:
- 1.5 cups - Rice, cooked and cooled
- 1/4 cup - Green bell peppers, finely diced
- 1/4 cup - Carrot, finely diced
- 1/4 cup - Tofu, crumbled
- 1/4 cup - whole Moong bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup - Snow peas, roughly chopped
- 1/2 tsp - Garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp - Red pepper flakes
- 3/4 tsp - Turmeric
- 1 tsp - Penang curry paste
- 1 tsp - Tamari, low-sodium
- 1 tsp - Sugar
- 10-12 nos - Basil leaves, thinly chopped
- 1 Tbsp - Oil
- Salt to taste
- Heat oil in a wok and 1/2 the basil leaves, red pepper flakes and garlic to the cold oil. As it heats up the oil will absorb the flavor of the two ingredients. Be careful to not burn them though :)
- Next add the turmeric, diced bell peppers, carrots, sprouts and curry paste. Cook on medium high heat for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile blanch the snow peas, in a microwave safe bowl, add enough water to cover the chopped snow peas, a few pinches of salt and cook for 2 mins. Let it sit in the warm water for a few more minutes then drain then under running cold water.
- Add soy sauce, sugar, drained snow peas and the cooled rice to the wok. Toss well to blend all the ingredients without breaking the rice grains in the process. Garnish with the other half of the basil leaves, and taste to adjust seasonings before serving it warm.
So there you go, two flavor packed, quick dishes in one long post because I was lazy to do them separately. These ofcourse go to IAVW - Thai that I am hosting this month for Vaishali. I will be doing the round-up over the weekend and so if you have any recipes in the pipeline, send them to me by Saturday and I will include them in the final post.