This curry and I go back, way back. I originally found the recipe somewhere on a website for Thai food about four years ago when I was living in York. Come to think of it, it might be the first Thai dish I ever made. I carried out the experiment with a friend of mine in the shared kitchen of my campus flat, which was huge and badly ventilated because the window was limited to tilting position: a measure that was motivated by the curious fear that desperate MA students like us would jump out of it as soon as we got the chance. We also didn’t have much in the way of kitchen equipment, so instead of making a smooth curry paste we simply chopped everything as finely as possible. Even so, we were amazed by its wonderfully fragrant combination of flavours and how authentic it tasted. However, as time went by this golden oldie was almost forgotten about. Undeservedly so! I slightly tweaked the original and the result is a Thai red curry as I believe it should be, with a full-bodied, spicy and aromatic sauce and deliciously tender bits of chicken.
Ingredients (for 2 -3, basically for 3 people unless you’re incredibly hungry)
For the curry paste:
2-3 stalks of lemon grass
5 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 chunk of fresh ginger
1-2 red chillies, seeds included
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp lime juice
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
2 small red onions
(optional: 1 tsp shrimp paste)
(optional: 1 tbsp brown sugar – I prefer it without as the tomato ketchup is already quite sweet)
1 can of coconut milk
300-350 g organic free-range boneless chicken thighs
1 red bell pepper
handful of fresh basil and coriander
(optional: 1-2 kaffir lime leaves)
- Mix all the ingredients for the curry paste together and blend together until it resembles the picture below.
- Fry the paste on medium to high heat in a flavourless oil for a few minutes, to release the aroma and soften the rawness a little. This will probably hurt your eyes a bit, but that’s all part of the fun.
- Add the coconut milk, stir well and allow to simmer and thicken for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, add the chopped bell pepper and deseeded, chopped tomatoes.
- Dice the chicken thighs, season with some salt and ground coriander and fry on high heat for a couple of minutes until golden brown on all sides, but still a bit raw inside.
- Add the chicken pieces to the sauce and simmer until they are just cooked. This way they will still be incredibly tender.
- Top off with fresh basil and/or coriander and serve with lime and steamed white rice.