Sunday, April 08, 2007

Thai Red Curry

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This Thai Red Curry is for GBP and also my dear friend N who has no clue that this blog exists.
N is the first Bong friend I had made after coming to US and when I think of it now, I cringe thinking of the way I befriended her
It had been more than two months that we had arrived and I was yet to meet a single Bengali soul, not considering the hubby of course. How I pined to gossip in Bengali, to chat with someone about Kolkata, to ask someone the best place to buy Hilsa. But there was none.

Of course there were the Bong organizations like all other cultural desi organizations beckoning to you with a smile in return for the yearly membership fee. But no, D would not be a part of them, he flatly refused to be part of the Bengali milieu that spoke and talked about a Bengal they had left some thirty odd years back. Though D is a Bengali and has grown up in Bengal unlike me who stayed outside Bengal for a considerable time, he lacks the full dosage of Bangaliana (the Bengaliness) a true blood Bengali has and was as happy in absence of the above.
Ok but this about N and not D so let’s not deviate

In my then state of frustration I was walking the aisles of K-Mart in lack of better things to do, when I hear fragments of Bengali being spoken in the neighboring aisle. I peered and I see this young couple, the girl in a Salwar-Kameez talking animatedly to her husband about some mundane K-Martish stuff.
I felt an immense urge to butt in and join in their discussion, voicing my opinion too in Bengali and then maybe inviting them over. But I restrained, I was frustrated yes, but still short of being labeled a lunatic.

Back at the Parking Lot while I was getting into my car, they were there too, lugging something into their trunk. I felt the urge again and this time asked D. D being the non-passionate Bong refused to play a role but gave me leeway to do things I wanted. The couple in the mean time were closing the trunk and revving the car. In a sheer state of desperation I bolted toward their car, said “Hi” muttered something about me being Bengali and it would be nice if we could meet etc. and scribbled my number on one of D’s business cards and ran. Yeah I just ran back while they stood there patiently, quizzically…

Thankfully none of us knew anything about Quixtar aka Amway

Then one day she called and I called and as they say – Rest is History

N has since grown to be my best friend. Though she is younger to me and is a English major, she was kind and patient enough to let me explain my tacky tech assignments to her while I attended grad school. She still listens to all my woes, gives me all her support and occasionally chats up my 3 yr old too. She is an awesome human being and a great friend and a foodie at heart and yesterday was her twins – 2 cute boys first birthday. Lots of happiness to them and their Mom & Dad

Recently N & her family were on house hunt and almost every weekend they would be out with the twins. If they were in my 15 mile radius I would ask them to drop by for lunch. Since N loves Thai food I made Thai Red Curry with Chicken for her on the weekend they finally decided on a house they liked. I served it with a Fried Rice, but its best with White Jasmine Rice. Just like N we love Thai Food too and this curry came out perfect. I often use shrimp instead of Chicken in this recipe and that comes out better.

I mostly frameworked my recipe from here - this site. I did throw in my own steps but the whole thing is pretty easy and quick and you can mould it around your comfort level. I did not use Fish Sauce as I had none. The recipe says chicken stock and cornstarch, but I don't think you need these. I also do not exactly remember the measures as I did this a month back, so give me some leeway there too


What You need

Chicken ~ 1 and ½ lb approx. I used skinless Chicken Thighs cut in small pieces(this is approximate measurment)
Onion ~ 1 large grind to a paste
Red Bell Peppers ~ 3 cut into thin slices
Garlic ~ 2 cloves minced

Coconut Milk ~ 1 can
Red Curry Paste ~ a 4 oz can of Maesri Brand Red Curry paste . This is pretty hot. So you could add less of this

Sweet Basil Leaves ~ 7-8
Lime Zest ~ from half of a medium sized green lime
Kafir Lime leaves ~ 2-3 if you can get hold of them . I never found them

For Marinade (if you are doing it)
Ginger paste ~ 1 tsp
Garlic Paste ~ 1 tsp
White Vinegar ~ 1 tbsp


How I Did It
Marinade the chicken pieces with 1 tbsp of vinegar, salt and 1 tsp each of ginger paste and garlic paste. I did this because I cannot have chicken when it has not been marinaded, I get a smell !!!
Heat Oil in a Wok/Frying Pan
Add 1 clove of minced garlic and 4 Basil leaves(no need to chop them)
When you get the fragrance of Basil and Garlic, remove the garlic and the basil leaves from the hot oil. Now you get a beautifully flavored oil which you use for rest of the recipe
Now to this oil add the chicken pieces, lightly brown them and remove and keep aside
Add Onion paste and fry till it turns pink
Add 1 clove of minced garlic
Sauté and add the red bell pepper
When the Pepper turns soft add the Red Curry Paste. I added the entire content of the can. It was fiery spicy but I liked it. You may like to reduce the level if you wish
Cook for couple of minutes and then add the Coconut Milk. You may need to add ½ or more cups of water at this point.
Let it come to a boil and add the remaining Basil Leaves
Add the chicken pieces and let it simmer at medium heat
Add salt and 1 tsp sugar and cook to desired consistency
Add the Lime Zest or Kafir Lime Leaves

Trivia: The word basil comes from the Greek βασιλευς (basileus), meaning "king", as it is believed to have grown above the spot where St. Constantine and Helen discovered the Holy Cross (Source: Wiki)


  1. Hahaha, whats with you bongs, obsessed with meeting other bongs? :) . My friend has a very similar story, she is a mallu who grew up in Calcutta, she befriended a girl in the mall, just because she heard her talking in Bengali, now they are best friends!!! Your story is so similar, I was laughing out loud reading this, sending this link out to her.

  2. hhahaha... kya dosti hai!!!!!! Great going sandeepa :)

    Thai curry sounds great.... thought it will be with veggies for me!!!! :) I love thai food for its close proximity to indian food..... texture... colourful.... spicy!!!!! UMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Hahaha! For me it was the other way round, here in Middle East, everyone incl shopkeepers speak in Malayalam (that never happened in Mumbai) and I clam up coz I don't have a typical accent like them- my Malayalam sounds very anglacized!! :) Thanks for the recipe, I like red curry.

  4. Ha ha ha! I would have thought that you are some Amway representative. I have had some strange experiences with Amway people so sometimes I steer clear from suspicious Indians:)).

    Btw Thai curry looks yum and let me pen down the song which came to my mind reading the post.

    ye dosti hum nahin chodenge...
    todenge dum magar tera saath na chodenge.....

  5. Such a sweet story of friendship.. sigh... :) But I totally understand that desire to reach out to your compatriots! :) In Singapore, I'd never be half as friendly to my fellow Singaporeans! But abroad, it's a different story! :)

    Well, what does N think of your blog then?

    Heh heh, I "cheat", too, always using a ready-made red curry paste. Gosh, I haven't made this in ages! I make mine pretty much like yours, but I usually add Thai baby aubergines, those little pale green balls.

  6. Sandeepa, lovely story. Thai Red Curry looks delicious. Those Basil leaves sure add a lot of taste. I was reluctant at first till I tasted Basil Chicken in a friends place.

    Yes those Amway folks give me the jitters, one family travelled all the way from Philly to recruit us H happened to run into them in a mall.

  7. woh!! sandeepa!! sweet story and definitely a very nice recipe as well!!!

  8. You are a great friend Sandeepa.It is imp to have like minded ppl around you.I meet some Karnataka ppl too but it becomes one way!I am always entertaining them and they never invite us!!!So I don't bother anymore!:)

    Red curry looks great,I am planning to make it for WHB sometime:))

  9. oh..being a probashi bangali, i lack what u called 'bangaliana' too, and i think now i know what my husband goes thru with me is what you went thru with D!

    i love thai food going to try this one soon!

  10. We love thai food...the green curry is also a favourite with us!
    I love your sweet story and can totally relate to it..having done the same in Japan at the railway station..saw a guy..he spoke in bengali to a fellow guy..I just went up to him and said (in bengali)"I havent eaten anything for 2 days due to language problem..can you show me where to buy something which I can eat?"
    I had just landed in Japan with the idea that everyone speaks english!!!
    After that we became very close friends,,..and he still relates this story as a joke in gatherings of how he got "introduced" to me!

  11. Sig
    Ha, ha one of my husband's close friend (from school but now he has disappeared !!!) was aMallu but he spoke Bangla so well

    Actually the recipe on the can says to use Thai Brinjal etc. try that

    Yeah that is like something D would do :)

    Thanks. You are too sweet w::)

    Even we say that now. Had we known about AMway we could never have been friends :)

    N doesn't know that this Blog exists. I intend to let my Blog Life be totally separete from the real one. Except D & my parents no one in real life knows about my Blog :)

    I have had terrible Amway experiences too but later. Try this chicken and if you can make your red curry paste better, else it is pretty quick


    Yeah you need some good friends around. I think these people you are talking about were not friends just a bunch of rude people
    But its not same level of friendship with all people we know even here. With some we meet/talk only when we go to their home for some party or they come to ours -- not really friends I would say

    Problem is, its me who is the "Probashi" bangali. D is not from Kolkata but an industrial town in WB just 3 hrs away so he should have been more Bong

    I don't know I always feel japanese are so busy that finding a Bangali adda there would have been a gift

  12. Sandeeepaaa....this reminds me of my earlier days here in US, looking for a Mallu ;) I guess it happens to everyone right ? I have saved ur recipe dear...will try soon.

    Still the picture of u running away and the young couple holding the card confused and those cars lined up in the parking lot...its all flashing in my brain :)))))


  13. two questions:

    what veggie substitutions would you recommend for the shrimp?

    how does your local desi grocer manage to keep his/her mustard oil stock from running out with two bong families in the vicinity?

  14. Shn
    So its not a bong thing alone :) One more common trait in Bongs and mallus other than the fish.


    He gives us free for the increase in sales :) And he knows that I have to buy by gallons if I see a bee hovering around to douse her with ;-)

    Ok so I love my shrimp and chicken and have not tried anything else, but the recipe says you can add zucchini etc. and Shilpa here says she adds Thai Eggplants

  15. this is a brilliant blog to find recipes to impress my mum with!!!!

  16. Hahahha, I was like you when I moved to VA, My husband is just like "D":). Thankfully my friends from CA use to call me everyday and as well my pregnancy & winter kept in away from knocking neighbors doors:D

    Red curry(veg) is one of favorite and I often make this along with basil fried rice, will post the recipe sometime.

  17. Hi Sandeepa!
    Loved your story. Chance meetings often lead to beautiful friendships that last forever. I love the idea of putting lemon zest in the thai curry. Will try it next time. Thanks!
    BTW - About your comment on my Bread sticks...I can forgive your spelling mistakes as long as you had not mis-spelt 'bekaar' as 'bekaraar':)

  18. Hey, I just saw ur comment on mine...I am fine dear..that was soooo sweet of u to ask :) I guess it was just coz of the sudden climate change from 80 to 20's..

    take care and sleep tight

  19. Sandeepa,

    That was such a sweet write up. Yes, sometimes there is that longing for some familiarity.....

    and look at that inviting red curry. i join Coffee in adapting this dish to a veggied fair :)


  20. What a lovely story Sandeepa, with a happy ending too -- my favorite kind!

    Thai curry is one of my weaknesses, so you know I will be trying this. I love it with tofu and fresh eggplant, too. Looks beautiful!!

  21. Nice story, Sandeepa! Good that you picked up the courage And your curry looks good.

  22. ~sigh~ its difficult to find indians, forget abt people from same region, where we stay. i can totally understand how u must have felt the urge to go n talk to them. many times i too feel the same but with the cold looks they give i stay away. even if i try to start convo they give that weird look as if i am after something. so thats the end of my "make some friends" story:)

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. sandeepa, i am still the shy one. i never pluck up courage to talk to strangers!probably coz my brother warned me of amway hawkers.:) but great that u made a friend thru that. love the color of ur curry. which is ur favorite thai place in NJ?

  25. What a delicious curry! I have yet to try my hands at Thai cooking, but you are inspiring me to give it a shot. I am sure this curry could be veggified quite easily. Thanks for sharing. Oh, and love the story too!

  26. Sandeepa is'nt it amazing how a total stranger can grow to be a dear for the curry, it definitely looks red-probably a little less heat would do it for me...but honestly it does look good...your friend's lucky...

  27. Sandeepa - Thai curry - my favroite kinds and with homegrown herbs - it makes it extra special. Loved reading your story with N. :)Thank you for participating in GBP.

  28. Aminah

    OMG you know I have to prod D to talk at times when we are visiting people he doesn't know well :)

    No,No I meant "BEKARAAR". With the stuff you bake the other word doesn't even cross my mind

    Good to know you are up & about :)

    No one would believe me but this again hapened with me last year. We were at "Levitz" a furniture store and this girl/lady comes up smiles, talks about my daughter (now that is a easier conv starter) and then goes on to tell me why a particular dining table would not be right for her dining place :) !!! This time I was weary because of Amway exp.and but she turned out to be a great person and now is a good friend too

    Thats a nice idea for all you veggie lovers. TRY WITH TOFU as Linda says

    I have courage at all wrong places :)

  29. Supriya
    Thats too bad. But you know why mine clicked because we both were new in this country

    Yeah Amway has happened to us too. Once I was even lured into an Event at the Sheraton because they told me its E-Commerce application seminar with renowned people fom the industry !!!

    With the Red Curry paste out of thge jar this was the easiest thing on earth

    Yeah thats how you make friends. Thanks for your sweet words

    Waiting for the round up

  30. Shaheen
    We mostly go to Pad Thai in HighLand Park but I like Bangkok Garden at Tenafly better which is nearer to my friend's place

    There is a small one close to home too, but not that good in the sense they are a bit mild.

  31. I love Thai food and I have tried the Green/Red/Panang curries at home. I usually substitute tofu for chicken - not that I am a vegetarian; just because I love tofu. I am going to try your Red curry with chicken; it looks delicious just like all your dishes :-)

  32. Sandeepa,

    That is such a wonderful story about how you met your friend N. You are both blessed to have each other as friends. Wonderful tribute.

  33. Hi Sandeepa,
    I just love thai food.Lovely recipe and the color looks awesome.The presentation is very inviting.Thanks for sharing

  34. Nice story Sandeepa! I know the feeling about meeting other Indians, and I was born and brought up in Toronto!!!!

  35. this was such a lovely story Sandeepa...and look what you got out of it, a friend for life...what can beat that?

    this curry is not up my alley...i'll have to substitute something else..say beans and greens and such?

    have a nice day ahead.\

  36. This is funny, I am a Probashi Bangali and don't have Bangaliana as you say (took some time to figure that word) and I cringe whenever I am told to get aquainted just because you hear a bangla word dropped. But I have seen a seemingly unknown bond getting built whenever a bong meets another bong. And I have seen with Bongs I have met they have built a bond with me much better than they build it with anyone else.

  37. Hey Sandeepa, since this dish is dedicated to friendship, i guess i'll make this for my friend when she visits me over the weekend, and share this story with her :)

    here's to friendship :)

  38. Sandeepa,
    The story of mine was very different. When I first came from India to Us(we were in port chester, NY then) I so desperately wanted to see Indians and I just couldn't find any other desis other than us. Now that I am in NJ its opposite. There are a whole lot of Indians and somehow not all of them are friendly. They have this " don't bother us" kind of look on their face.
    Anyways coming to your red looks gorgeous Sandeepa. There is a Thai place called Four Seasons very close to my place and they have best Thai food that we have had till date. Your curry looks exactly like theirs. Now thats a compliment. I am serious!!!Lovely. I am gonna try it with some veggies.

  39. Suchandra
    Oh I will also substitute tofu and try out

    Cynthia, Sowmya, Trupti, Kanchana

    The Pilgrim
    Yes I have a high dose of that :)

    That's really sweet of you

    We used to go to Four Seasons when I was studying as it was very close to my univ. It was pretty good. But haven't been there now for a long time
    One of my friend was saying they now have a small grocery section and carry Kafir Lime leaves too. Did you ever try that ?

  40. I loveeeeee you!! I loveeee you!
    I was sooo obsessed meeting a Malayalee and did the same thing at Kmart!! Same pinch!! I love love you!! again and again!

  41. Uff ki yuummmm. I love thai food. Bohudin baade red curry dekhe jibhey jol eshe gelo :P And tis urge to express it in Bangla. You know how true appreciation for good food, has to be in one's mother tongue!
    I desperately need some good recipes for G.She's got very sharp taste buds and I don't have the patience to cook fancy food after work every evening. So turn to your blog :)

  42. Nice to read ur friendship story Sandeepa. U are one lucky girl to get a good friend like N. I know abt the urge when we meet people who speak our own language. But somehow Iam yet to meet a peson like N.
    Thai curry looks great.lovely presentation.

  43. Hi Sandeepa
    I have the same obsession meeting with other bongs in New Jersey.Your story reminds me some pages of memory. Nice picture of Thai Chicken.

  44. It was Fun reading your story,that was an Interesting Twist leading to a beautiful friendship..:)sandeepa loved your Red curry,a Lemony Thai curry with Rice is what I call a perfect Menu .Cheers!

  45. have u tried the one called "four seasons" on stelton road? it's better for take out than sit in but the food is good.


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