You might be able to remember the first time you had curry, and that’s understandable as its flavor profile is unlike anything you taste in the average American diet. Many people tend to think that recreating this dish at home will require a plethora of ingredients and steps. However, it’s much less challenging than you’d think. Once you know the basics of cooking curry, it can easily become a staple in your kitchen. That’s why we have prepared these top tips for making Thai curry without a recipe.
What Is Thai Curry?
Curry is a dish that originates from countless different cultures in the world, so it can differ greatly from place to place. Moreover, there are wide varieties of curry even within the same country. Most people know about Thai and Indian curries. However, the curries from each respective country use different ingredients and spice mixes, so their flavors are quite distinct.
For that reason, you might find yourself wondering what makes Thai curry so special. Interestingly, we can trace the origins of this dish back to 1873 CE from the first Thai dictionary. This dictionary explains the essential ingredients needed to make Thai curry, or “kaeng” in Thai. When we get into the necessary ingredients, we will divulge the essentials as stated in this dictionary and how they differ from today.
A Dynamic Meal
Curry is an incredibly dynamic meal that allows for so much freedom and creativity. You can choose to add any type of vegetables you wish or have on hand. You may also choose to go for a vegetarian dish or add pork, steak, chicken, or fish. All you need are the basic essentials to start. Besides that, there are no strict rules for what you can and can’t add to your curry dish. That’s why once you know how to make Thai curry without a recipe, it can become a pantry-friendly staple in your home.
You might have countless foods sitting in your pantry that you worry will never see the light of day. If that’s the case, then you’ll be happy to know that curry is an exceptionally pantry-friendly meal. There are many ingredients you can include in your curry that you likely already have in your pantry.
Some of the best pantry items that you can add to your curry include chickpeas, coconut milk, pumpkin purée, and rice. These are common ingredients in many basic curry recipes. However, keep in mind that you can and should have fun with it. If you notice an ingredient in your pantry that may be a little unconventional, but you still think it would make a good addition, try it out!
Your first step to begin making your curry is to gather all of the ingredients. You can’t have curry without the essential base ingredients and spices that will make that classic curry flavor. However, the base can differ depending on the flavor you are trying to achieve. Let’s dig a bit deeper into what these essentials are.
The Thai dictionary from 1873 CE we mentioned earlier defines the base essentials of “kaeng” as garlic, shallots, chilies, onions, and shrimp paste. You might notice the absence of coconut milk, which could be surprising as it’s now a staple in the base of many Thai curry dishes. Nonetheless, it’s always a good idea to gather any alliums you have on hand, like white or red onions as well.
With these essentials on hand, begin caramelizing your alliums with a generous pour of your favorite cooking oil. If you wish to add some heat, you can also include Thai chilies, but make sure to add them little by little and taste as you go so you don’t make it too spicy. Thai chilies tend to pack considerably more heat than the chilies we’re more familiar with, like jalapeños.
As your alliums begin caramelizing, you can add your paste; this part is the most important. It might be overwhelming, but it’s important to know that you have options. You may make your own curry paste, but this can be tedious as you must grind herbs and alliums in a mortar and pestle until you achieve that paste consistency.
Moreover, you might not have the necessary ingredients to make the paste, and that could lead to your curry tasting nothing like it’s supposed to. Thankfully, there are many high-quality, pre-made pastes you can use, to make the process much easier. At Verve Culture, we have Thai cooking kits that come with the basics ready for you to use. Your next step is to choose whether you want to have green or red curry for your meal.
Green or Red?
While you can add a variety of vegetables or protein to your dish, the flavor can completely change depending on the curry paste you use. You might be wondering what the difference is. If you’re looking for a fresh, light, herbaceous, and generally less spicy curry, then you should go with green curry. On the flip side, if you want something that packs a bold flavor and kick with an expansive taste, then choose red curry.
The best part is that we carry a variety of Thai curries for you to enjoy. Don’t know which to choose? Try out the Organic Curry Sampler Set, which has red, green, and Panang curry. When you choose our Thai cooking kits, you can rest assured you will receive a truly delicious meal. That’s because we partner with Thai farmers who are passionate about sharing the flavors of Thailand with the world.
Utilize Vegetables on Hand
Many of us can relate to the experience of purchasing vegetables we promise to eat only to find them at the bottom of a drawer looking downright terrifying. Thankfully, curry is a great opportunity to use all those vegetables in your fridge that will likely go bad. You can add spinach, kale, squash, eggplant, carrots, and anything else you have on hand. Moreover, you can also include common curry ingredients like bamboo shoots, baby corn, and Bok choy.
Including a Protein
As we have well established at this point, curry is what you make of it! You can include any type of protein you want in your curry. Chicken, beef, or fish work wonderfully to complement curries. You might try to pick a protein that balances your curry. For example, a white fish would complement a green curry better, while you might enjoy beef with red curry. Keep in mind that there are also vegetarian options you can add to your curry, like tofu, tempeh, or seitan. Enjoy!
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