It's been almost a week since I lost wrote. That's not happened in a while. But my much sobbed about relocation from Fort happened. I now work in the dust bowls of suburban Mumbai. The Knife has lost his Mojo. The only notable food event this week was our friend's wedding. But then you have eaten at one good Parsi or Bawa wedding and you have more or less covered it all.
So here's finally a post. Even if it's about something I cooked last year. On new year's eve.
I dipped into Simon Majumdar's Eat My Globe once again last night. Read the chapters on Sydney, Melbourne and Hong Kong. Food blogger turned published author turned TV celebrity and yet he earnestly answers my mails to him. Perhaps I should learn from him and shouldn't be so constipated about adding people as 'friends' on Facebook.
I opened the chapter on Bangkok and Thailand. Simon wrote about how he was awed by the curries there which were so different from 'the goop' he apparently got at London in the name of Thai curries.
Well, it's pretty much the same here at Mumbai. You get Thai food in a number of restaurants here. Most get the curries wrong. I could say this with reasonable authority after I went to Thailand way back in 2005. I'd gone there in '78 too but wasn't a food blogger then. I went to Thailand again in 2010 and hopped over to Chiang Mai after Bangkok. I had a number of Thai curries there. Attended a cooking class at the Asia Scenic Cooking School at Thailand. Learnt to cook curries too.
The trip confirmed my belief on what is wrong with most Thai curries in Mumbai.
Well let's take green curries. The colour of the curry is pale green and not bright fluorescent green. There are no carrots in Thai curries. Nor broccoli. Thai curries are seasoned with fish sauce. I doubt if most of the restaurants here do that. And the consistency of the curry is a lot thinner than what we get here. Interestingly, the only difference between red and green curry is that mix of the former uses red chillies while the latter uses green. I made a red curry at the cooking class as we find it difficult to get a good red curry at Mumbai. Thai Pavilion, Thai Baan and Candies at least get the green curry right to varying degrees.
I made the green curry base up this time. Used natural ingredients the way they showed us in the cooking class. The way our grannies once cooked. I'd picked up a mortar and pestle from Chiang Mai and used that. You could use a mixer grinder too. The fragrance of raw spices and herbs were maddeningly nostalgic. Redolent of a golden era. The best thing is that I got every single ingredient at Bandra's Pali Market at Mumbai. Next lane to where we live. So nothing, barring the fish sauce that was imported, or increased the carbon footprint. The only thing that I didn't get were the golf ball sized light green coloured egg plants that they used at Chiang Mai. Still I am pretty sure that a Thai grandmom would have approved of the curry that I cooked.
So here's the recipe for Thai green curry. Not mine really. It's from the Asia Scenic School.
- Green curry mix: Teaspoon of coriander seeds. A stalk of lemon grass. Couple of kafir lime leaves. 1/2 an inch piece each of galangal and turmeric. A teaspoon of peeled garlic pods. 1 teaspoon chopped onions. 4.5 green chillies. Deseeded if you can't handle heat. Red chillies instead if you want to make a red curry. Now, if you are using a mortar and pestle then put each of these ingredients sequentially, pound and put the next one and so on. The trick is to get the dry ones in first. The lemon grass stalks are the most stubborn. This is the most time and energy consuming phase of the dish. But the magical aromas make it all worth it. I guess it becomes a one step, push button process if you use a mixer grinder.
- Heat a bit of oil in a pan
- Add 3,4 tablespoons of coconut milk. Bring it to a boil.
- Add the curry mix. Stir.
- Add meat. I used boneless chicken. Pork or beef would be great too. Add some chopped shitake/ portabella mushrooms. The egg plants would have gone in here. Stir till the meat looks cooked.
- Add 200 ml of coconut milk. Add some plain cow's milk to thin the mix.
- Add 2 - 3 tablespoons of fish sauce. This substitutes salt. Add some sugar. The Thai's add palm sugar
- Bring the sauce to a boil
- Reduce the flame. Add the tiny round green Thai brinjals, some basil leaves and kafir lime leaves
- Let this simmer for ten minutes
Now there's one more thing that I picked up at Chiang Mai. The way they served a crunchy bean sprouts side with curries and soups. A fantastic combination of textures with noodles or rice forming the third element. I didn't have the recipe for this. But I made a sprouts mix on the side which tasted of Chaing Mai and enthralled all those who tried it. It's pretty simple really
- Put sprouts in a bowl. I got these from Pali Market, Bandra
- Add some crushed peanuts to this. Ideally crushed in a Chiangwill brag about her
- Add some split bird'e eye chilli, finely chopped galangal and shreds of kafir lime leaves
- Add fish sauce and palm sugar (I used honey)
- Stir and you will get a nice crunchy salad which you can eat with your curry and rice. I can vouch for this combination
So how was your week in food?