Thai jungle curry (Gaeng pa)
Chefs have called Thailand the land of 1000 curries because of the wide variety in the cuisine. Most of these are the familiar, Red curry, Green curry, Yellow curry, Masaman curry and of course the notable Jungle curry. But there are a multitude of other curries that we are yet to learn about.
Jungle curry is unique as it is one of the few curries that does not contain coconut milk. As history tells us, this curry was made in the Northeast jungles, away from the coast and hence the lack of coconuts in both this curry and the cuisine. However, as we will see, the lack of creaminess is substituted for a bold curry that pops with flavours.
This is a vegetarian curry but can be easily converted to one with chicken, seafood or red meat. Add the meat towards the final step and simmer, 3-4 minutes for shrimp and fish, 40 minutes for chicken, and 60-90 minutes for beef or mutton.
This is a lovely curry and I prefer to make it during the summer months for its light broth that does not contain coconut milk. However, the broth pops with spices, bold and spicy. the vegetables need to be just cooked and not mushy providing a lovely texture.
This is a thin cookbook, filled with vegan recipes that are outstanding. Super simple recipes from traditional salads, fried foods, noodles and curries, like this one, make this my go-to cookbook for vegetarian Thai cuisine. Vatch, as he is known, has published several cookbooks, runs some excellent restaurants around the world and teaches Thai cooking at his school.
For more wonderful recipes from this cookbook, click here.
2 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1 1-inch piece of krachai or galangal, finely minced
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup long beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 carrot, cut into 1-inch thin batons
4 baby corn, cut into quarters
1-2 kaffir lime leaves
2 fresh red or green chillies, cut in half longitudinally
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt, to taste
3 baby purple eggplants, quartered
1/2 cup medium tofu, cubed (optional)
Note: If using dried krachai, soak it in water for 30 minutes before using.
Heat the oil in a wok or pot and add the red curry paste and krachai/galangal. Fry briefly on low heat till aromatic and the oils separate from the paste.
Add the stock/water and bring to a boil. Add all the remaining ingredients and cook for 10-12 minutes until the eggplants are soft but still maintain shape. Add the tofu, if using, right at the end.
Serve hot with Jasmine rice.