My lovely tall friend Richard invited a bunch of us over to his house last week for curry. “I’ll be making a pot of moderately spicy curry,” he wrote in his text, “because I have the spice tolerance of a little girl.” For a six foot six-ish bassist with a penchant for death metal*, this fact is a tad disappointing but the curry, however, was anything but.
Now let me give you a brief history of my experience with curry: I hated it. The End. I never seemed to like the curry my mum made for us as kids (and the fact that our cousin John found himself in the hospital with appendicitis after one of mum’s curries makes little difference, I think….). But when I grew up and started tasting new things I found I really liked it – that is, the creamier, not-too-hot variety. I’m thinking curried vegetables in DC’s Indian restaurant, Rasika. I’m also thinking vegetarian Indian restaurant in San Francisco with my sister and friend – divine, with naan breads to mop up all that yummy sauce. Suffice to say, I didn’t like curry while I lived in Ireland. I do now.
So when Richard suggested curry – as the prelude to our Halloween DVD night – I was a bit iffy but I said yes anyway. And then, boy oh boy did it go from good to gorgeous. The coconut milk creates a wonderful aroma as you step into the room. The butternut squash was a surprising addition but ’tis the season, and it adds great colour to an otherwise bland-looking dish, so bring it on!
Rich was working from memory and cooking for about nine of us, god bless him, so there was no official recipe to follow. I recreated this recipe for myself, the mammy and the brother – so 3 of us!
Richard’s Thai Green Chicken Curry with Butternut Squash, Coconut Milk and Lime Leaves.2 Chicken Breasts, cut into one-inch pieces 2 tblsp each of soy sauce and sesame oil (to colour the chicken, and because sesame oil is fab) 1 large onion, roughly chopped ~50g of Thai Green Curry Paste (I used half the jar that contains 114g but use more if you like it spicy! Nearly killed my own family with this amount. Beware, the spice fumes will knock you out as the paste fries so open a window, get the extractor fan going and try not to breathe in) 1 Tin of Coconut milk 1 Chicken or Vegetable Stock Cube (prepared as per package instructions, with 190ml of hot water) 1/2 Butternut Squash, cut roughly into 1/2″ pieces (I grated about 1/2 tsp of fresh nutmeg over the squash because I love it) A handful of lime leaves, chopped** +Rice and naan breads (or something to mop up all that yummy sauce. Nevermind that this recipe is “Thai” and not “Indian”***). And some veg: I dunno, carrots…?
1. In a medium-sized frying pan, over a low-to-medium heat, gently fry the onion in a splash of oil for about 2 mins.
2. Spoon in the curry paste and smoosh it around the pan until the onions are well-coated and have softened up. Throw them into a large saucepan, pour in the coconut milk and stock, stir it up and get a low-to-medium heat going.
3. In the same frying pan, fry up the chicken in batches. You only need to brown it so give it about 3-4 mins. Throw the chicken into the coconut milk mixture, give it a stir and fry up the rest of the chicken.
4. Add the chopped butternut squash to the saucepan, then add the lime leaves. Stir it up then let the whole shebang simmer for about 30mins until the sauce has thickened up and the squash is cooked to your liking (mine was quite soft and mushy, which was ok I suppose).
5. Meanwhile, get your rice going and cook to the packet’s instructions or to your own liking.
6. Serve it up (take photos of your handiwork if desired) and get eating!
* Richard is a fan of Mastodon which is apparently classified as “sludge metal”. I’m shrugging my shoulders here.
** Lime leaves can be purchased from Tesco. I believe they come dried. I found a decent-sized bag in the Asian market on George’s St, just a few doors south of the George’s Street Arcade, fresh frozen. This is also where I picked up the jar of Thai Green Curry Paste (Richard said he preferred the Asian market paste to Tesco’s but use whatever you prefer/is more convenient for you). I also picked up a little box of saffron for my paella! Again Tesco does stock saffron – they’re great for finding really yummy and unusual spices, such as my absolute favourite, smoked paprika – but I don’t know if it would be more expensive there??
*** Looking at the jar of curry paste, I’m not entirely sure this actually was a THAI Green Curry. But it sounds nicer, doesn’t it? So long as you have no further questions then Yes. It was a Thai Green Chicken Curry indeed.