Curries from Thailand

Thailand Curry Explained

 

Red, Yellow, Green... are we talking about Thai food or road safety? 
It’s all very confusing isn't it, Why not take example from Indian curries, everyone knows the difference between Korma, Tikka Masala and Vindaloo. Why does Thai food have to use a colour coding system to complicate things?

Lets take a delicious deep dive into the main Thai curry varieties and understand the differences between them to get an idea of each of the amazing flavours each one has to offer.

 

So What is a Curry?
By definition a curry is a flavourful dish, typically of South Asian origin, made with a variety of ingredients such as meat, vegetables, or legumes that are all cooked in a spicy sauce, often containing ingredients like turmeric, cardamom, chillies, cumin, and coriander. The curry sauce being the primary factor of the dish that distinguishes it from other foods. 

Most Thai curries use a base of coconut milk, and for the record not all Thai curries are named after colours of the rainbow. Just them three listed above, all will become clear soon.

We are going to take a look at the primary Thai curries that you are likely to encounter in Thai restaurants and Thai takeaways in the UK. These are: 

 

  • Thai Green Curry
  • Thai Red Curry
  • Thai Yellow Curry
  • Masaman Curry
  • Panang Curry

 

Thai Green Curry

The most popular and vibrant dish that hails from Thailand and is known for its rich flavours and aromatic spices. What gives it its distinctive green hue is the use of fresh green chilli peppers, which are smashed into a fragrant paste along with other ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, garlic, and shallots. This paste serves as the base for the curry and infuses it with its characteristic colour and bold, fresh flavour.Thai Green Curry Sauce

In terms of taste, Thai green curry strikes a delightful balance between spiciness, creaminess, and herbaceousness. It offers a subtle heat from the green chillies, which is tempered by the creaminess of coconut milk and the aromatic depth of ingredients like kaffir lime and Thai basil. The result is a savoury, slightly sweet, and aromatic curry that is both fragrant and flavourful.

When it comes to choosing meat to cook with Thai green curry, chicken, king prawns, or tofu are commonly used options. However, if you prefer beef, it's essential to avoid having the red meat juices dull the vibrant green colour of the curry. To do this, consider partially cooking the beef separately before adding it to the curry, and ensure that it is thinly sliced. 

 

 

Thai Red Curry

In contrast to its green counterpart, derives its name and characteristic hue from the vibrant red chillies used in its preparation. These spicy chillies, along with other aromatic ingredients like garlic, shallots, and ginger, are ground into a fragrant paste that forms the heart of this enticing dish. The resulting paste lends Thai red curry its bold colour and an intense, spicy flavour profile.Thai Red Curry Sauce

In terms of taste, Thai red curry offers a symphony of bold flavours with a pronounced spiciness, rich creaminess from coconut milk, and a harmonious blend of herbs and spices. It has a fiery kick, but the creaminess of the coconut milk balances the heat, resulting in a lusciously creamy and aromatic curry.

Thai red curry pairs exceptionally well with lean red meats like beef or venison. The reason is that these lean meats not only add a hearty and savory dimension to the dish but their juices enhance the reddish tint of the curry, making it even more visually appealing. To ensure the meat retains its tenderness and flavour while preserving the vibrant red colour of the curry, it's recommended to thinly slice or cube the meat and add it to the simmering curry towards the end of the cooking process. This way, you can relish the exquisite flavours of lean red meats while appreciating the captivating and appetising appearance of Thai red curry.

 

  

Thai Yellow Curry

This delightful and aromatic dish that stands out with its vibrant, sunny-yellow hue. This vivid colouration comes from the inclusion of turmeric in the curry paste, which imparts its brilliant yellow pigment. The paste also typically contains ingredients like lemongrass, shallots, garlic, and a pinch of chopped red chillies for some subtle heat. This unique blend of spices and herbs creates a visually striking and inviting curry base.Thai Yellow Curry Sauce

In terms of flavour, Thai Yellow Curry offers a wonderful balance of creamy, sweet, and mildly spicy notes. The turmeric lends a slightly earthy and peppery taste to the curry, while coconut milk provides a luxurious creaminess. You'll also detect hints of sweetness from ingredients like palm sugar and a subtle aromatic complexity from the inclusion of fragrant herbs like coriander and cumin. Remarkably, the flavour profile of Thai Yellow Curry bears some resemblance to Japanese-style katsu curry, primarily because of the shared use of curry spices and coconut milk, although Thai Yellow Curry maintains its own distinct Thai flair.

This versatile curry pairs exceptionally well with a variety of proteins, including chicken, shrimp, or tofu, and can even be enjoyed with vegetables. Its bright yellow colour and harmonious blend of flavours make it a delightful addition to any Thai cuisine aficionado's repertoire.



Masaman Curry
This is a unique Thai curry with a fascinating history that traces its roots back to India. Its name, "Massaman," is derived from the word "Mussulman," which refers to the Muslim community in India. Massaman curry is believed to have been influenced by Persian and Indian cuisine, with its distinctive blend of spices and flavours. This delectable curry made its way to Thailand through trade routes, likely during the 17th century and is a testament to the rich culinary fusion that characterizes Thai cuisine, blending Indian and Thai influences into a harmonious and flavorful dish.Thai Masaman curry sauce

One notable characteristic of Massaman curry is its slow-cooking process, often involving meats on the bone. This slow simmering allows the flavours to meld together, resulting in a rich, aromatic, and tender curry. The key ingredients include a fragrant spice blend that typically features cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cumin, and coriander, along with coconut milk for creaminess and a touch of sweetness. The inclusion of ingredients like tamarind paste, palm sugar, and roasted peanuts adds depth and complexity to the flavour profile.

Massaman curry is most commonly prepared with meats such as beef or lamb, and sometimes chicken. The use of meats on the bone enhances the curry's depth and imparts a succulent, fall-off-the-bone tenderness. This distinctive Thai curry, with its Indian origins and Thai refinement, has become a beloved favourite among both locals and international food enthusiasts, showcasing the richness of Thailand's culinary heritage.

 

 

Panang Curry

Finally Panang curry, also spelled "Phanaeng" or "Panaeng," is a beloved Thai dish celebrated for its rich and complex flavours. This curry boasts a heritage deeply rooted in Thai culinary traditions, but it also bears the influence of neighboring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.Thai Panang Curry Sauce

Panang curry starts with a base of red curry paste, which includes ingredients like red chilli peppers, lemongrass, galangal, garlic, and kaffir lime leaves. However, what sets Panang curry apart is its unique blend of ingredients, such as roasted peanuts or peanut butter and coconut cream, which give it a distinctively nutty and creamy texture. The curry is often simmered with kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil, and sometimes palm sugar, resulting in a harmonious balance of spicy, savoury, citrussy and slightly sweet notes.

One of the distinguishing features of Panang curry is its thick, luscious consistency, making it perfect for coating proteins like chicken, beef, pork, or king prawns. Unlike some other Thai curries, Panang is not typically made with vegetables, allowing the focus to remain on the rich, indulgent sauce and the succulent meat. The slow cooking process ensures that the flavours meld together, creating a sumptuous and aromatic dish that is cherished by both Thais and international fans of Thai cuisine.

Panang curry is a testament to the diverse and intricate flavours that Thai cuisine has to offer. Its combination of bold spices, creamy textures, and the choice of meat as the star of the dish make it a must-try for anyone seeking a truly delightful and satisfying Thai dining experience.

 

Conclusion

Thai cuisine is a treasure trove of flavours and aromas, and its curries stand as shining examples of its culinary artistry. Whether you're savouring the fiery, green goodness of Thai Green Curry, the vibrant and spiced allure of Thai Red Curry, the aromatic and creamy delight of Thai Yellow Curry, or the rich, nutty indulgence of Panang Curry, you're embarking on a culinary journey through Thailand's diverse and dynamic flavours.

If you're eager to experience these Thai curries in the comfort of your own kitchen, look no further. We handcraft and offer authentic Thai curry sauces right here on our website. Simply click "Shop" in the menu bar, and you can order now. No matter where you are in the UK, we're thrilled to bring these exquisite flavours straight to your doorstep. So, why wait? Discover the magic of Thai curries today, and embark on a culinary adventure that will tantalize your taste buds and transport you to the vibrant streets of Thailand.

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