We are big fans of the hot and spicy Thai food and its usually our first choice when it comes to the “take-out” dinner time. It happens about couple of times a month when a local Thai restaurant, Tuptim, comes to the rescue. In just a few minutes after that phone call, we have a piping hot Thai Red Curry or a spicy Thai Fried Rice on our dining table!

But is Thai food so quick and easy to make, in just a matter of minutes? Yes it is! With a few specific Thai ingredients in my pantry, minimal prep work and a few items from the refrigerator, I made at home few Thai dishes that looked and tasted just like our favorite restaurant food!

So next time you are in the mood for some Thai food, call me 🙂 and order Thai take-out from my kitchen!

It was my first time making “real” Thai food at home.  I have taken the semi-homemade route before, using some cans or jars, but the real fun lies in making it from scratch! As usual, I started with some research on Thai cuisine basics, special regional ingredients, preparation methods and so on. I found a great book “Complete Thai Cooking” by Hamlyn at our public library in Montclair NJ. This book truely is a bible of Thai cooking and it covers the cuisine basics and includes some authentic Thai recipes.

At the heart of Thai cooking lie the curry pastes red, green and yellow. I decided to try my hand at the red curry paste. Next stop was at a local Asian store, where I found all the special Thai ingredients viz. lemon grass, Thai basil, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, fish sauce and the shrimp paste. You could find some of these products at regular grocery stores or you could also substitute some usual ingredients that are quite similar to taste like lemon zest for lemon grass or ginger for galangal and lime zest for the kaffir lime leaves.

Thai Red Curry Paste

Here’s a basic recipe from the book. The book used measurements which were a little bit complex, but I have tried to simplify them.  The recipe is red hot just like the name says! Keep a watch on your spice meter when preparing this paste; add less red chili if you prefer milder dishes. This curry paste can be used for making Thai curries, chicken, seafood or vegetarian curries but as you read, you will see how I used it to spice up my fried rice too!

 

Makes about 1/2 cup of paste

8-10 dried red chillies, soaked in hot water, drained and roughly chopped (I used the seeds but if you don’t prefer it to be too hot, remove the seeds while chopping)

3/4 lemongrass stalk (Please do not use more than this for the specified quantity of paste. Too much of lemon grass can easily spoil the texture of the curry as it doesn’t dissolve or soften on cooking). If you don’t have lemongrass, use the zest of 1 lemon

10-12 cilantro stems (without leaves. This is a great way to use the stems that usually end up in the trash)

1 shallot, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves

1/2 galangal or 1 inch piece of ginger

2 tsp coriander-cumin powder (dhana-jeera powder) Alternatively, 1 tsp coriander powder and 1 tsp cumin powder. (All the recipes I found used cumin and coriander seeds, but from my personal experiences, these seeds cannot be easily ground to a fine powder and can spoil the taste of a dish. Hence, I used available powders)

6 black peppercorns, slightly crushed (If not crushed, they don’t grind well in the food processor)

2 tsp shrimp paste + some of its oil

water, as required to add moisture while making the paste

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and grind to a thick paste. Add water, as necessary.

Transfer the paste to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator till you are ready to use. It can be refrigerated for 3-4 weeks.


Gang Gai

(Chicken in Red Curry)

Gang Gai, our typical take-out order is sliced chicken breast cooked in red curry sauce, coconut milk, bamboo shoots, red peppers, string beans, some green peas and basil (Thai Holy basil). Its classic dish with no nonsense flavor of chicken emphasized by the robust and fragrant aroma of the Thai Red Curry Paste. The coconut milk, which is the base of this dish, helps soften the heat of the chillies and the rather neutral flavor of bamboo shoots acts as a foil to the spicy sauce. Adding the veggies, not only adds a contrast of color but also gives it a healthy twist.

In the book, I found some curry basics but no specific recipe for this favorite curry dish, so I came up with my own. Try my Gang Gai recipe, I promise its keeps up with the restaurant standards!

Serves 2

1/2 lbs chicken tenderloins (I found that these are better than using chicken breast for making Thai curries or fried rice or even Chinese stir-fries, as the meat is more tender and juicier). Alternatively, use chicken breast.

1-2 tbsp oil

5-6 Thai Holy Basil leaves (If you can’t find Thai Holy Basil, use regular European basil)

1/4 cup Thai Red Curry paste (homemade or store bought)

1/2 small onion, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

handful bunch (about 6-8) string/green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 can (about 1½ cups) lite coconut milk

1/4 cup green peas, fresh or frozen

handful (about 1/2 cup) bamboo shoots (fresh or canned)

salt

1-2 large fresh red chillies, diagonally chopped

2-3 kaffir lime leaves, torn (1/4 tbsp lime zest)

1 tbsp light brown sugar

2 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)

cilantro or coriander, roughly chopped for garnishing

Cut the chicken tenderloins in to 1 inch bite site pieces and set aside. If using chicken breast, cut along the lateral side of breast pieces so that you get two thin breast pieces out of one and then chop them into 1 inch bite size pieces.

Heat oil over medium heat in a wok or a large skillet and stir fry the basil leaves along with the curry paste for about a min. Add onions, red pepper, string beans and fry for another min. Stir in the coconut milk with peas and bamboo shoots. Add the chicken pieces and cook for about 2 mins, stirring occassionaly.

Season with salt; add red chillies, kaffir lime leaves or lime zest and sugar. Mix well and add the fish sauce. Stir thoroughly to combine everything very well and cook till the coconut milk just starts to boil and the chicken is cooked well.

Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with steamed Jasmine rice.

Kow Pad Ped

(Spicy Fried Rice with Shrimp)

Thai Fried Rice dishes are usually quite mild but our local joint has a spicy version that’s pretty much on our order most of the time. I was very excited about trying this one at home. When I started my research on how to make Thai-style fried rice,  I found that there is no hard and fast recipe – usually whatever is on your hand meat, poultry, seafood or bean curd (tofu) or simply veggies. That’s how I went about preparing it too. It had to look spicy red and had to be loaded with all the good stuff shrimp (I love those!) and veggies (I love those too!) and has to be nice ‘n’ spicy. I just went with the flow, my intuitions and transformed my vision in to a delicious reality.

Here it is, Kow Pad Ped, just the way they serve at the restaurant!

 

Serves 2

1 cup Jasmine rice, wash 2-3 times and soak for about 1/2 hour and drain the water

1¼ cup water

3-4 tbsp oil (use 1 tbs oil out of this while cooking rice)

5-6 Thai Holy Basil leaves (If you can’t find Thai Holy Basil, use regular European basil)

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1 inch ginger piece, finely chopped

1-2 large fresh red chillies, diagonally chopped

1/4 cup Thai Red Curry paste (homemade or store bought)

2-3 kaffir lime leaves, torn (1/4 tbsp lime zest)

 

1/2 small onion, sliced

1/4 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 scallion (spring/green onion), cut up into small pieces

handful bunch (about 6-8) string/green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces

4-5 broccoli florets

10 large shrimps, peeled and deveined

1-2 splashes of dark soy sauce

salt

pepper

1 tsp light brown sugar

cilantro/coriander, finely chopped for garnishing

Add water to the washed and drained rice with salt and 1 tbsp of oil and cook the rice seperately in pressure cooker/stove top/microwave or rice cooker.

Blanch broccoli and string beans in boiling water for 2 mins each and set aside.

Heat 2-3 tbsp oil over medium heat in a wok or a large skillet and stir fry the basil leaves, chillies, garlic and ginger along with the red curry paste for about a min. Add onions, red pepper, string beans, broccoli along with the shrimps and fry for 2-3 min. Splash the soy sauce and season with salt and pepper. Add rice and sprinkle the sugar on it. Mix well and stir-fry for about 2 more mins.

Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

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11 thoughts on “thai take-out from my kitchen

  1. I made the fried rice & red curry for lunch today – and both of them were really good. I made some adjustments at my end to make it “low fat” – I used 1/2 chicken broth & 1/2 coconut milk for the curry. Also, I cooked the rice in chicken broth instead of water. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, I am glad I tried. Have a good weekend..

    Hi Priyanka,
    Thank you for trying it out and for sharing your tips with me. I used the Lite Coconut Milk to make it low fat, but your idea of using chicken stock is better, making it even more low fat!
    ~Vasanti

  2. Hello,

    Do you have recipes for Pad Thai or yellow curry? I will be entertaining friends at home with Thai food 🙂 – wanted to add more items to the menu. There are a ton of recipes online but I wanted to see if you had any recommendations or recipes of your own in addition to the fried rice & red curry.

    Thanks!

    I do have a recipe for making green curry paste. Will be posting it soon.
    And Pad Thai…I am just too crazy about the one my local restaurant makes. Never tried it as whenever I crave for it, I just order it. I am definitely gonna give it a shot though. I just hope I can make it as good as they do!

    Again, thanks a lot for trying out my recipe. Vijay told me that you were very happy about the results you got 🙂

    ~Vasanti

  3. yummmmy:P thanks for your suggestions , i’d adore to comply with your weblog as frequently as i can.possess a good day~~

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