Spicy food is not for everyone and Thai food isn’t always hot but when it comes to curries you know there is some chilli involved. We are number one fans of Thai food, spicy or not, and everyone who knows us, can confirm our love and passion for Thai cuisine! We certainly love everything, and it is worth noting that curries are an important part of the Thai culinary scene, and this is exactly what we will explain in this article.
Although curries originate from India, the Thais have made their own with a mix of amazing specific flavours. There are a wide variety of Thai curries, but the three main types are green, red and yellow which are mainly named after the colours that the curry paste gets after mixing the chilies and other ingredients.
How to make fresh curry paste
The basis of most curries is the same except for the colour of the chilies. It is also important to know that chilies have different levels of characteristics and spiciness. Besides the importance of the chilies, every family adds their own variation when making curry paste, which results in a unique curry.
Curry pastes are widely available in supermarkets but if you want to have the full authentic experience, you should try to make your own.
You can make it the traditional way with a mortar and pestle in which you crush all ingredients and mix them with the help of your muscle mass.
A food processor will also make a paste but with more texture as it only chops and doesn’t crush the ingredients. While using a food processor you might need to add water as natural juices will not release easily to form the paste.
How long can curry paste be stored
Always keep fresh curry paste in a cool place. Store bought curries will last for up to two years. Freshly made curry paste can usually be kept for up to seven days in the fridge and will last up to six months in the freezer. It must be said that depending on the ingredients, it is possible that some products will oxidise and change colour, especially when making green curry paste.
5 most common Thai Curries
This is probably the most popular of all Thai curries with spicy and sweet notes. Besides the fresh green chilies, the curry paste consists of shallots, lemongrass, garlic, galangal, kaffir lime peel, cumin, coriander seeds and turmeric. The vibrant green colour often comes from the addition of fresh coriander.
Green curry is usually made with chicken, but any kind of meat is feasible. The addition of green vegetables such as green beans, sweet basil leaves, onions, and small eggplants together with coconut milk finish the dish.
Red curry is often referred to as the spiciest curry. The ingredients of the curry paste are dried and fresh red chilies, garlic, lemongrass, shallots, galangal, kaffir lime peel, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and Thai shrimp paste.
The paste itself is not any spicier than other pastes but red curries are usually made with less coconut milk.
Yellow curry can vary but they are usually mild, and the paste consists of a small amount of chilis with shallots, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, ginger, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, curry powder, turmeric and Thai shrimp paste.
This curry came with British influence via Malaysia in the beginning of the 20th century and is perfect with fish. It is less oily than other curries. A dish called khanom chin, with fine round rice noodles and mixed fresh herbs might be less well known and can be eaten with any curry, but it is a particularly ‘refreshing’ yellow curry recipe!
Panaeng curry finds its origin in the north of Thailand and Laos. The paste is a milder version of the red curry paste and may have the addition of peanuts.
The curry has slightly sweet hints, and is drier than other curries. It is delicious with any kind of meat but it is particularly fabulous with prawns. Extra vegetables can be added but it’s not essential. The traditional finishing touches to panaeng curry are finely sliced kaffir lime leaves and a drizzle of coconut cream.
Massaman curry is a very mild, slightly sweet curry and a bit of an outsider with Indian and Malaysian influences. The paste is made with roasted red chilies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, coriander root, kaffir lime peel and shrimp paste.
The specific massaman paste is key but the dry spices, peanuts and the addition of potatoes add richness, texture and authenticity to this curry. Beef and pork are the most common protein used in this curry.