I have been a fan of Thai curries since I saw them on TV some 15 years ago and immediately cooked it as I had everything on hand and the flavors sounded so yummy. I had a terrace garden in those days and grew lemongrass and galangal in pots. I replaced Kafir lime with the leaves of Gondhoraj lebu (an aromatic lemon variety from Bengal) and it was a love affair with the word go.
That was the time when not too many restaurants would serve Thai cuisine and those Thai curry pastes were not strewn over the supermarket shelves. Heck, there were no such super markets where I was living. The only exposure to Thai curry I had, was through the glossy magazines I used to read.
TLC was the channel I started watching TV with (after I got married) and even my housemaid used to watch those shows keenly. Actually she was the one who would remind me of the show timings and it was a lovely time for me, someone acting like an alarm clock to remind watching my favorite TV show. I tell you that was an ultimate luxury, I don't get to watch TV now and I miss her. I would love if someone switches on the TV for me and tell me the listings. Ah dreams.
So I saw Bobby Chinn making the Thai curry paste in a mortar and pestle back then, and that became a better reason to try the curry. Do you know I have 6 pairs of mortar and pestle of different shapes and sizes? I love using them whenever I can. I used to make the curry paste in mortar and pestle in those older days, more because I had a live in maid, now I use my electronic gadgets. The small white marble mortar and pestle is being used to crush spices and herbs for my tea infusions mostly.
I have modified the Yellow curry recipe since then and made the flavours more cleaner. I don't use any spices in it except the turmeric powder. Its the herbs and coconut milk that give this yellow curry such an exotic flavor that we keep craving for it every now and then.
(3-6 servings depending on how you serve it)
chicken 600 gm (use mixed vegetables to make it a vegetarian curry)
coconut milk with high fat (about 24%) or coconut cream
Kafir lime leaves 2 (I used pomelo/grapefruit leaves from my garden)
a handful of chopped lemon grass leaves or a bundle of leaves to make the infusion
salt to taste
Ingredients to make a paste
turmeric powder 2 tsp (use a knob of fresh turmeric if available, I had good quality organic turmeric powder so that was a good choice)
galangal 2 inch piece roughly chopped
white onions roughly chopped 1/2 cup
lemon grass roots 2 (only the whites)
fresh red chillies 2-3 or more to taste
Boil the chopped lemon grass leaves in about 500 ml of water to make a infusion. Strain and add salt and the chicken pieces and let them cook till almost done. Or just poach the chicken along with a bundle of lemon grass leaves and a tiny piece of galangal, discard the leaves and roots later.
Make a paste of all the ingredients listed, and mix this paste with 3 tbsp coconut cream or high fat coconut milk and cook this paste in a pan. If you are using a coconut milk like Dabur which has lesser fat, refrigerate the tetra pack and skim the cream from top to cook the curry paste. The deep yellow curry paste will be aromatic as soon as it gets cooked. No need to brown it or bhuno it till charred. We just need an aromatic mix which gets cooked further when we curry it.
Pour the poached chicken with lemon grass infusion into this yellow curry paste, pour the remaining coconut milk and let this curry simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve right away with plain boiled rice and some raw vegetable salad.
I chose to serve it with a rice and chickpea flour thin crepe, made almost like appams but on a flat griddle.
Plain boiled rice or rice noodles will be as good with this curry. Just be careful and do not get carried away and have loads of rice with this curry, having more chicken curry than rice makes more sense, taste wise too. Good fats, good proteins and balanced and good carbs, all in one meal..
This is one Thai curry that makes my life easy when in doubt. I always stock coconut milk in my fridge and growing herbs makes it easier for me.
You can use dehydrated lemon grass leaves, dehydrated galangal and even dehydrated kafir lime leaves too. Or start growing some herbs in pots of you can.