Friday, January 16, 2009

Curry Lessons: Making Madhur Jaffrey's Thai green curry

I wish I had my camera with me when I was at Lea's for curry lessons. She had a gorgeous array of bird's eye chillies, lemongrass, limes, cilantro (which Lea calls coriander, as she's a proper Englishwoman), garlic, shallots, ginger, curry leaves, and a variety of spices.

We made two curries that day, a Thai green and a red, both out of the book shown here. Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible is found on many a shelf in the UK (according to the small sample size of approximately (ok, exactly) two other Londoners I questioned). I highly recommend this book. Americans: don't bother looking for it in your neighborhood bookstore. I got mine thru Amazon.

Both curries were extraordinary, and right up the Pinch alley for being healthy (I just altered the amount of coconut milk and used a lite version), quick and delicious. Even better, we made a big batch of the Thai green, freezing off portions for future use. It froze really well - there was no difference in taste between the fresh and frozen portions. It's been such a treat to have on hand. Now that we've eaten it all I need to make another batch.

Learning how to deal with lemongrass was a great lesson - I had no idea how to handle it. Lea taught me to remove the tail end and then whack the base of the stalk to release the oils and aroma. Whacking was done with a rolling pin, the kind without handles, and yeah, it was totally fun.

The ingredient list calls for some specialty things. Lea procured everything up on Devon Ave in Chicago. Check your local Whole Foods; they will sometimes have lemongrass and the bird's eye chillies.

Madhur Jaffrey's Thai Green Curry, Pinched
Print recipe only here

Makes four batches

28 bird'e eye chillies, chopped
10 cloves garlic, chopped
10 oz shallots, chopped
6 slices fresh ginger
2 T fresh lemongrass, thinly sliced
zest of one lime
16 cilantro stems (just remove the leaves and use the stalky part)
4 anchovies
1 t cumin
1 t ground coriander
fresh ground white pepper

Remove stems of chillies and chop. Add to Cuisinart along with all the other ingredients. Add about 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of water and pulse to blend. Divide into four portions and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

For two people

Heat 1 T canola oil in a large skillet.

Trim 2-3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or other protein of choice, such as shrimp, pork, beef or fish) into bite sized pieces. Cook in the skillet until browned all over. Transfer to a plate or bowl and reserve.

Add another tablespoon of canola oil to the pan if necessary. Add one portion of the prepared green curry sauce and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add 2-3 ounces light coconut milk (see explanation in recipe sidebar) and cook another minute. Add reserved chicken and cook 3-5 minutes or until cooked through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with basmati or jasmine rice.

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