Why is the combination of Coriander, Lemongrass and Garlic so Thai ??? This question always popped up in my mind, whenever I read of any Thai recipes any where. Unless one of my friend gave me a whole one hour intensive lecture on Thai cuisine and its Culture. She had stayed in Thailand and Singapore for almost four years and is very much acquainted of the Region. She acknowledged me of a lot of facts, some of which I wanted to share with you here in this post and the upcoming ones in near future.
There are three main reasons why the combination of Coriander, Lemongrass and Garlic is so typical of Thai Cooking. The first has to do with convenience all these ingredients grow quickly and abundantly throughout Thailand and are available year round. Lemongrass grows just like normal grass, only with more of a tendency to form clumps. Garlic and Coriander are also fast growing and the latter has the advantage of furnishing the cook with three distinct products : seeds, roots and leaves.
The second reason for the importance of these ingredients in Thai Cuisine is their contribution to a healthy diet. Unlike westerners, Thais do not make a clear distinction between food and medicine and all three plants are considered medicinal. Coriander is believed to enhance the appetite, improve digestion and clear phlegm. Lemongrass is another appetite stimulant and considered t be good for headaches and fevers. Garlic, meanwhile is thought to cleanse the Blood.
Unsurprisingly, the final reason why Garlic, Lemongrass and Coriander are so central in Thai cooking is all about taste. All three contribute to the perfumed clarity that is so characteristic of Thai dishes, both individually and together.
Since for the true taste of Thai Curry, curry paste needs to be freshly made and not store bought. It is best done by pounding the ingredients using a stone pestle and mortar. But I did it with my Mixer at home. And although there were many recipes over the net, I found this one suiting my taste and preferences entirely. Being a vegetarian, I have not added Shrimp Paste into the Paste which is btw a key ingredient to any Thai Curry. Its like adding Turmeric to any Indian Curry. you know.. A Key Ingredient !! But if you can, go ahead and add this Shrimp Paste to your curries to get that exotic Taste perfectly !
The recipe which I have prepared here is called Gaeng Pet Jay which is Coconut Vegetable Curry. Although it was very difficult to get the exact ingredients the recipe called for but somehow I managed most of them. If you dont get all, dont get disappointed.. you still can create an exquisite Thai Curry with just those 3 magical ingredients 😉
What you need ?
- 8-10 red chilies
- 2-3 shallots, chopped finely
- 3-4 large Garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp chopped Galangal
- 4 Lemongrass stalks, chopped
- 2 tsp finely chopped Lemon Peel, (originally called for Kafir Lime Peel though )
- 1 tbsp finely chopped Coriander Root
- 1 tsp White Pepper corns
- 2 tsp Coriander seeds
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
For the Curry :
- 3 cups assorted vegetables (Pumpkin, Courgettes, Baby Corn, Green beans, broccoli etc)
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1 Medium Onion, roughly chopped
- 1 cup Coconut Milk , thick variety
- 1 tbsp Lime Juice
- 2 cups Water
- 2 tbsp Oil
How to Make ?
- To make Curry Paste, start with the hardest ingredient and then add the other ingredient one at a time. KEep aside after grinding everything well.
- Heat the Oil in a Large Pan, add the onion and Curry paste and stir well. Add the coconut cream, salt and bring to a boil then reduce the hear and simmer for 3 minutes
- Add the vegetables and cover the pan. Cook for about 10-12 minutes then add the water, stirring occasionally
- Check seasoning and cook further till the vegetables tender down at your desired consistency. Stir in the Lime juice and serve immediately.
- You can replace Galangal with ginger, if absolutely necessary. Though you wont get the same taste, but still the feel of it
- You can direct the quantity of the Curry PAste as per your likings and taste.