Yellow Curry is the most popular and mildest of all Thai curries. It is especially wonderful with chicken.
1 cup green birdseye chiles (phrik kee nu)
5 T lemon grass, finely sliced
10 T shallots chopped
10 T garlic, minced
5 T galangal (kha) grated
5 T coriander/cilantro root, chopped
2 T coriander seed
1 T cumin seed
1 T freshly ground black pepper
2 T shredded fresh lime leaves (bai makroot)
4 T fermented shrimp paste (kapi)
1 T palm sugar
If you don't have access to Bird Chiles (phrik ki nu) or Thai Dragon Chiles(Phrik chee fa), you can use 1/2 pound of habanero chiles, or 3/4 pound of serranos, or 1 pound of jalapeno chiles.
Note that if you use a substitute you will get a different volume of paste, and that you will need to use different amounts in subsequent recipes.
If you can't get galangal(kha) use ginger. If you can't get fresh Kaffir Lime leaves (bai makroot) use lime zest If you can't get coriander root, use coriander stems and leaves leaves.
Coarsely chop the chiles. Toast the dry seeds in a heavy iron skillet or wok, and grind them coarsely.
Place the kapi on a piece of double tin foil formed into a little dish. Place this into your toaster oven to develop the fragrance. Open window first as it gives off a very strong aroma. This mellows and develops the proper flavour.
Add all the ingredients to a food processor and process to a smooth paste or pound with mortar and pestle the traditional way.
Place in a glass jar with tight fitting lid and keep in the fridge for at least a week for the flavors to combine and develop before use. This chile paste will keep for several weeks when refrigerated.
Curry is called gaeng phet in Thai. In Thai gaeng means liquid and refers to both soups and curries and phet means hot in the incendiary sense. When searching for a Thai curry recipe, note that often times the water-based curries are categorized with soups, because not all gaeng are spicy curries. Gaeng also encompasses mild flavored soups called gaeng joot i.e. clear Thai soups.