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Chicken with Red Curry (Gaeng phed kai)
Gaeng Phed Gai means “hot chicken curry”. This is a simple and basic popular Thai curry dish. There is a similar dish made with green curry called Gaeng Khiao Wan Gai. One of the wonderful things with Thai curries is that you adjust the flavours to your preference. If you want the curry mild – use fewer chiles, or if you really like it fiery add more chiles.
6-12 dried red chiles, soaked, deseeded and drained
1 tsp white peppercorns
2 tsp coriander seeds, roasted and ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted and ground
2 Tabs thinly sliced lemon grass
½ tsp zest of "kaffir" lime (ordinary lime will do)
6 tabs garlic, chopped
1 tsp minced galangal
1 tsp chopped coriander (cilantro) root
4 tabs chopped shallot
a splash of fish sauce (nam pla)
1 tsp fermented shrimp paste (kapi) (roasted)*
* place kapi on a small tinfoil formed flat tray with sides, place in toaster oven until freagrant. Remove and let cool while you prepare and pound the other curry paste ingredients.
Place ingredients first the harder ingredients of chiles, peppercorns, coriander and cumin seeds, kaffir lime leaf slivers,in a mortor and pound thoroughly with the pestle. When they are completely mashed into a paste, add the garlic, galangal, and coriander root- pound again to form a smooth paste. Now add the shallot, nam pla, and kapi and pound again until it is a smooth paste.
You can use a food processor, but it is more difficult to create a smooth paste. It blender makes a smoother paste. You can begin in the food processor and finish in a mortor to attain the desired smooth paste. Place in glass jar and keep in a refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Thai red curry paste (Mae Ploy or Mae Sri brands are quite good), but freshly made curry paste tastes much better and contains no MSG or preservatives.
Method to make the Curry
1 pound chicken cut into bite size pieces
1 can coconut milk
1/3 pound Thai eggplant (small round eggplants)
4 kaffir lime leaves slivered
2 tabs Thai basil
3 tabs fish sauce
1 tab date palm sugar
oil for cooking
2-6 tabs of the red curry paste
Place the thick part of the can of coconut milk in a pan, add the curry paste, fry until fragrant and starts to separate. Add the rest of the coconut milk, stir to combine, add the pieces of chicken and the basil leaves, simmer until the chicken begins to loose its pinkness. Add the eggplants, adjust taste to your liking. Continue to simmer until chicken is cooked and eggplant is softened.
Serve with steamed jasmine rice. Garnish with additional Thai Basil leaves.
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