Curry of all colours in Chiang Mai


Are you curry-blind when it comes to trying to pick a red, green or yellow Thai curry? They are all hot, spicy and delicious and as Intrepid’s Karen Rastall discovered during her tour of Thailand, guessing which one you’re eating is all part of the fun…

“One of my favourite countries for food would have to be Thailand. The flavours and tastes are incredible and there is such an array of different food to try. On a trip to Chiang Mai we found a little local restaurant with a typically huge choice of dishes. After reading the menu back-to-back, I eventually decided today was the day for a yellow curry.

A short while after ordering, the waiter placed a bowl of curry in front of me. It strongly resembled a green curry, so I asked the waiter “Is this green curry?” To which he happily replied “Yes!” “Sorry, I actually ordered a yellow curry.” The waiter leaned in closer to inspect and announced “Oh yes madam, this is a yellow curry…although, perhaps yes, maybe it is a green curry.” The waiter kindly took my confused curry away to check with the kitchen staff.

A few minutes later he returned, with the same bowl of curry on his tray. “Here you go madam – red curry” he said with a smile. It was all too funny at that stage, so I happily accepted my green/yellow/red curry and ate it with delight. I later found out from the kitchen staff that it was actually green, but yes, it was delicious all the same!”

So how can you tell which curry you are eating?

Typical green curry is made with small and young, green chillies, while red curry uses bigger red chillies. Both are hot, but you’ll normally find green has an extra kick. Yellow curry is from southern Thailand and the aromatic blend includes turmeric.

Plus there’s one other sure way to know it’s yellow curry, you can try cooking this delicious recipe for yourself 🙂

Thai Yellow Chicken Curry
Yellow curry sauce ingredients:
1-2 red chilies (or substitute green), depending on desired heat level (you can also leave out the chilli for an extra mild curry)
2 shallots (or 1 small cooking onion)
1 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger, sliced
3 large cloves garlic
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. fresh nutmeg (or substitute cinnamon)
3 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. dried turmeric OR 1 thumb-size piece fresh turmeric, sliced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves, snipped into small pieces with scissors (discard central stem)
1 can coconut milk
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (or juice from 1/2 lime)
1 Tbsp. ketchup OR 1 Tbsp. tomato paste + 1 tsp. sugar

Other ingredients:
1/2 chicken chopped into pieces
1 stalk lemon grass, with bulb and tough outer leaves removed. Cut leftover stalk into 2 or 3 pieces and reserve
2 potatoes, chopped into wedges or small chunks
1 yellow, green or red capsicum or bell pepper (or mix of colours), de-seeded and sliced
1-2 additional kaffir lime leaves, left whole
1 cup cherry tomatoes approx.
1/2 loose cup fresh coriander OR fresh basil to finish the dish

First, make the curry sauce by placing all sauce ingredients together in your food processor or blender. You can also mince the ingredients by hand, or pound ingredients together with a pestle and mortar.

Place chicken pieces in a casserole dish. Add the curry sauce you just made. Also add the kaffir lime leaves (left whole), and the lemon grass pieces. Stir together well, then cover and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Remove dish from oven and add the potatoes, capsicum and cherry tomatoes. Stir well, then return to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes (or until chicken and potatoes are well cooked). Note: if you prefer your tomatoes to taste fresh rather than cooked: add them right before serving. The heat from the sauce will warm and soften them just enough to taste great.

Remove curry from the oven. Stir, then do a taste-test, adding more fish sauce if not salty enough. If too salty for your taste, add a little more lime juice. Add additional fresh chilies if you prefer more spice or if it’s too hot, add a little more coconut milk (or substitute plain yogurt). If too sour, add a little more brown sugar.

When you’re happy with the taste, sprinkle with fresh coriander or basil. Serve hot with Thai jasmine-scented rice, delicious!

Amazing Thailand it begins with the peopleFor more of a taste of Thailand check out Intrepid’s enticing new Real Food Adventure Thailand.

Plus in Australia tune in to A Taste of Travel on Network Ten @ 4.30pm on Saturdays in December, 2013.

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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