A blade shines in the darkest of the nights
Did you ever find yourself getting stuck with a recipe that list a paste or ingredient that you have no idea how to get or make? I often did and it is so annoying. Recently I was trying to making an Indian recipe and I stumbled upon Madras Masala Paste??? erhm... huh? What is that? I flipped through the whole book from back to cover... no mention of what this paste is nor how to make it. Thank goodness for the Internet, without it, I wouldn't be able to make this paste nor know what it is.
Ok, Confession time: when I made this paste the first time around, I didn't have exactly all the ingredients and I improvised a bit. I replaced the spices with ready-grounded spices. I replaced black mustard seeds (I didn't have them at hand) with wasabi (I know, the Indian chef would have a heart attack if he knew this) and I used balsamic vinegar instead of cider. On top of that, I absently added the oil into the paste mixture. I realised my mistake too late. Anyway I cooked the paste, curious to see how it would turn out - although the oil never separated from my paste, the paste was still delicious and very fragrant.
Coming soon, recipe that uses this paste. Do watch out for it.
As noted by one of my reader and confirmed by my friend from India, vinegar is not part of any traditional madras recipe. As far as my friend's knowledge goes, South Indians use tamarind juice wherever they need the sour taste and not vinegar. So I guess the vinegar is an improvised solution when one doesn't have tamarind on hand.
This paste is very aromatic and spicy - as it is really white-hot-fire-burning-inferno-from-hell. For those who can't take it very spicy, reduce the quantity of chili powder added to the paste. You have been warned!
We haven't had curry for a quite some time now... so I decided to cook something different. I have been wanting to try my hands at cooking green curry for years, well, ever since I got this cook book from my ex colleague but I never really dared to try it... when I see the (long) list of ingredients - I usually chicken out. So this time, I was determined to do it and satisfy my hunger pangs for green curry.
In Thai cuisine, curries are a paste used in meat, fish or vegetable dishes. They use local ingredients such as chili peppers, Kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, Galangal and coconut milk, and as a result tend to be more aromatic than Indian curries. Thai curries are often described by colour; red curries use red chilis while green curries use green chilis, and yellow is closer to the Indian one.
Home-made curry pastes have of course more flavour than prepackaged. As such I decided to make my own paste and write this recipe is in two parts: first the green curry paste itself, then the Green Chicken Curry.
Fresh green curry paste will keep for up to 3 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Alternatively, place tablespoonful in an ice-cube tray, cover and freeze for several hours; then store the cubes in a freezer bag and use them when required. Allow to defrost for 30 minutes at room temperature before using. Frozen paste will keep for up to 4 months.
For this paste, I didn't have coriander nor cumin seeds, so I used grounded ones instead - the same for the black pepper. I also run out of French shallots so I used 2 French shallots and 1 medium size onion. As for the green chillies, I used only 4 as you can see they are extremely big. If you are not used to spiciness, use 6 instead of 8 and also remove the inside core to lessen the spiciness.
I also couldn't find kaffir leaves so I substituted them with 1 tbsp of kaffir lime zests (equals to about 6 kaffir leaves). Another alternative is to use 1 tbsp of lime zests. Note that fresh Kaffir leaves can be frozen, while dried leaves are much less flavourful, so use twice as many as the recipe calls for if you're substituting them for fresh leaves.
(taken from Thai Cooking)
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 25 minutes
I didn't know what to expect actually, while cooking this curry, the aroma of kaffir lime and coconut flavour filled the whole house... very delightful and mouthwatering.
The chicken curry turned out pretty delicious I must say (a pat on my own back). For the first time, I'm actually satisfied with my own curry. The verdict from Pierre : Nice, fragrant. He likes it. It is spicy but not overly spicy.
I must say that although the long list of ingredients to make this curry (especially the green curry paste) looks daunting, it is rather simple, just put everything into the food processor and let it do the work for you.
Chicken thigh fillets are sweet in flavour and a very good texture for curries. You can use breast fillets instead if you prefer. Do not overcook fillets or they will be tough.
I replaced kaffir leaves and lime zests with kaffir lime zests like I did with my paste. Trying not to waste, I used the kaffir lime juice instead of lime. And I used brown sugar instead of soft brown sugar (I didn't have any of that in my cupboard).
Many of the above ingredients can be tricky to find in western countries, but I have had good success finding them in local Asian groceries.