Northern Thai Chicken Curry

This has a distinctive flavour of Northern Thailand. There’s a heavy use of ginger which is a characteristic of the region. The curry paste (Kua Red Paste) is also slightly different to the ususal red curry paste. The use of turmeric gives a stunning bright orange appearance. What isn’t so stunning is the bright orange hands I ended up with for 3 days. I looked like I smoked 300 fags a day. I urge caution while handling fresh turmeric. Thai food is fast becoming my favourite (of the month).


For the Kua curry paste:
(will make 15 tablespoons – which is more than you’ll need, but it freezes well for later use.)
10 small dried red chillies (soaked for 30 minutes)
5 large dried red chillies (soaked for 30 minutes)
1 teaspoon salt
20g shallots (chopped)
50g garlic (chopped)
1 tablespoon galangal (grated)
4 lemon grass stalks (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon fresh turmeric (grated) (or 1 tablespoon powdered turmeric)
a few Thai basil leaves (for garnish)

Put all the ingredients into a food processor with 2 tablespoons water and blend into a smooth paste. Alternatively, do it with a hand blender or in a pestle and mortar. You can freeze the paste in 2 tablespoon portions and use them at a later date. They’ll freeze for months.

For the curry:
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 onions (roughly chopped)
3 garlic cloves (roughly chopped)
5cm piece of ginger (roughly chopped)
2 tablespoons curry paste
1kg chicken thighs (skin off) cut into 1/3 portions
1/2 teaspoon salt
450ml coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 lime (juice of)

Heat the oil in a wok or large pan over a moderate heat. Gently fry the onions, garlic and ginger for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the curry paste and stir once or twice. Add the chicken and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned on all sides. Add the salt and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the heat, stir in the lime juice just before serving.

Sprinkle with Thai basil and serve with boiled rice.

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