Curry! Wonderful stuff. Thai curries feel easier to make than the Indian ones, and they seem to be fresh rather than rich, which makes a lovely change. They also gravitate towards using coconut milk and oil rather than cream and butter, so making them dairy free is less of a stretch.
Traditional Red Thai Curry is made with dried red chilies, and Green Thai Curry is made with fresh green chilis. However, the amount of chili required to give a red color to the sauce would be way too spicy for my family, so I substitute the chilies with the appropriately colored fresh (non-spicy) peppers. The 1/2 tsp dried red chilies that I use here gives a heat that we can enjoy, though if I’m making it for daughter #2’s school lunch, I rely only on the ginger to give the required heat; adjust to your taste. Increase the red chili:bell pepper ratio, if you like yours hotter.
The non-sauce vegetables can be varied depending on what you have available. Substitute similar weights, and have the veggies more or less cooked by the time they are introduced to the sauce. For the most part, I select white/yellow/orange/red colored vegetables or tofu for this curry, as I think it looks more harmonious.
To make green curry, substitute fresh green peppers (including green chili pepper) for the red peppers in the sauce, blend half of the fresh coriander from the list of vegetables into the sauce, and choose green/white veggies (tofu/courgette(zucchini)/green or snap peas/potato/green pepper) to add to the sauce. It’s all about the color!
For the sauce:
2 tsps coconut oil
1/4 large onion, roughly chopped
~5 oz fresh red pepper, de-seeded and roughly chopped
2 lemongrass, chopped
1/2 tsp crushed, dried, red chili
1″ cube (err on the generous side) ginger, skinned
2 garlic cloves, skinned
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cumin
1 lime (zest of whole lime + 1 tbsp juice)
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 can (~14 fl oz) light coconut milk, divided
For the veggies:
8 oz (1 large) potato, 3/4″ dice
1/2 small head (8-10 oz) of cauliflower, cut into florets
coconut oil, as needed for frying
2 large carrots, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1/4 large onion, chopped into large dice
1 red/yellow/orange pepper, de-seeded and sliced lengthways
8 oz mushrooms, cubed
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
cooked jasmine rice, to serve
Warm the coconut oil in a saucepan, and gently fry the onion, peppers, and lemongrass until soft (~10 minute).
Add the chili, grate the ginger and mince the garlic, and add those too. Stir in the ground coriander and cumin; Use a microplane to add the lime zest to the mixture. Add the salt and lime juice, and warm the lot for a minute.
Scrape this mixture into a blender; use 1/2 of the coconut milk to rinse the saucepan out into the blender, and blend until smooth. If the sauce still has small strings in it, pass it though a sieve or chinois, and return to the pan to warm. Rinse the blender out into the saucepan with the remainder of the coconut milk (through the sieve, if necessary).
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, and use it to cook the potato and cauliflower until they are just soft. Drain and put to one side.
Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan, and cook the carrot, onion, peppers, and mushrooms until softened.
When you’re ready to eat, combine everything (including the herbs) together, and heat for 10 minutes until everything is hot, stirring gently. Serve with freshly cooked rice and hand round the gluten free soy sauce (I use Braggs Aminos).