Thai Curries: What You Need To Know
For many people, a life without curry is a life not worth thinking about. Yes, curry is life, yet for curry-lovers, no two curries are exactly alike. The term curry is actually very vague and is not very accurate at all. This is because curries are basically unique types of stews and gravies so one cannot simply class curry as being a dish in itself. When we think of curries, generally people tend to think of Indian and Thai cuisine. Of course, there are curries from all corners of the earth, but in terms of popularity, Indian and Thai curries do rule the roost. Traditionally served with steamed rice and prepared with fresh aromatic herbs and vegetables, today we’ll be focussing on Thai curries, as we specifically look at three of the most popular curries in Thai cuisine: red, green, and Massaman.
Red Thai Curry – Thai red curry gets its name because, shock horror, the dish has a subtle red color when prepared. Red Thai curries are spicy, yet not as spicy as green curries, making them perfect for curry lovers who enjoy their curries with a bit of a kick, without being overly hot and spicy. This is actually surprising because red curries get their distinct red color from red chillies used to make the curry paste. However, red chillies are traditionally very ripe and so they lose some of their heat. If people prefer a little more heat however, red curry can also be made with red birds eye chillies. This not only gives the curry a sweet zing, it also gives the curry a deeper red color as well. If on the flip-side, you want a milder curry with a deep red color, you can use milder long chillies, plus you can remove the seeds, which is where much of the capsaicin is stored.
Green Thai curry – Traditionally, all Thai curries were actually made the same way, except for the chillies. The spice paste would be made using the exact same ingredients, other than the chillies. Red curries used red chillies, whereas green curries were made with, yes, you guessed it, green chillies. Over the years however, to help distinguish between the two, more fresh green ingredients were added to the curry, with many chefs using handfuls of lime leaf, basil, and fresh coriander leaf. Green curries were therefore often more aromatic and fragrant than red curries. Green curries are also considered the hottest because green chillies are generally hotter than riper red ones, plus chefs would originally have to use more chillies to give the curry a distinctly green color.
Massaman curry – Massaman curry is actually a Thai variation of a dish originating in Malaysia. Massman for example, is not a Thai word, as it is derived from the Malay word for sour, which was ‘Masam’. Massaman curry is a variant of a Thai yellow curry, which includes potato and nuts, both whole, and blended to create a delicious paste. The dish is traditionally fairly mild and often contains more coconut milk than the other two curries on our list, which, along with the nuts and the potatoes, gives a very unique and delicious flavor and texture. Like most Thai dishes, the main flavor profiles you get from this dish are hot, sweet, and sour.