It’s a truth held to be self-evident that Thai food is fantastic – especially the stuff you buy from the street carts in Bangkok for about 4 pence – but if you’re a vegetarian it can be frustrating trying to find a good Thai restaurant. Last year I found out that a favourite Thai place of mine in Toronto uses fish sauce in their “vegetarian” dishes; a problem that apparently many veggies face when eating this type of food.
The good news is that Thai food is ridiculously easy and cheap to make at home, and 90% of Thai dishes, after you’ve done all the chopping and crushing and other types of prepping, should only take 15 minutes to cook.
I learned to cook some great Thai food in Bangkok at the May Kaidee cooking class and some of these recipes have been in regular rotation in my kitchen ever since. May is definitely a character, and is as likely to make you sing along while you cook as she is to take you to the local market and show you the best produce to buy. It was an absolute joy.
I’m all about doing things from scratch where possible, so here is a recipe to make your own, fantastic Thai red curry paste. This requires a little arm work, so feel free to cheat if you like and buy them tinned, but I hope I managed to write that in the tone of voice that suggests that you should man up and make your own!
15-20 small red chilies, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp chopped lemongrass
1 tbsp chopped galangal
1 tbsp kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
Pummel all ingredients together until a paste is formed
(feel free to add a teeny bit of oil if necessary)
Keep in the fridge until you need it!
Just a note about some ingredients: galangal is a type of Thai ginger, and if you can’t get hold of any, normal ginger can be used as a substitute. It may not taste the same but the flavours work with normal ginger just as well as galangal. Kaffir lime leaves, however, are more or less essential in these dishes. They are fairly easy to find; you’ll get them in any Chinatown from the grocery store, and in the UK most big supermarkets have them – Tesco is particularly good, and stocks them in the herbs and spices aisle. Lemongrass, too, is quite important and can be found in the same places.
Once you’ve made your own paste, you’ll never come back. I prefer a lot of lime in my curry, and this recipe lets me add more as I see fit. You should tailor it to your specific tastes!
You can use this paste to make this fantastic Red Curry – a great dish to feed to a lot of friends or just one lucky one too.