13 months ago


Overtures on the menu

Overtures on the menu Curry Classic A classic Thai dish not to be missed is definitely Gaeng Khiew Waan or Green Curry. Its rich flavour has a strong kick of spiciness that may challenge some palates, yet every fragrant spoonful offers an authentic Thai taste. During the Ayutthaya period, locals in this central part of Thailand adapted recipes from Gaeng Liang (spicy mixed vegetable soup) and Gaeng Paa (hot and spicy red curry) – both served as a base for new creations. First came dishes like Gaeng Daeng or Gaeng Phed (both are red curries) from existing recipes. Then with more creativity, they invented a new meal for the dining table – Gaeng Khiew Waan – by adding a hand-pounded paste of green chillies, chilli leaves and coriander roots as ingredients to make the curry greener. It explains why they called it Gaeng Khiew, or green curry. The word ‘waan,’ which means sweet, does not come from a sweet taste, though. It’s the Thai description for the soft green colour when fresh coconut milk gets blended into the curry. This was how the classic Thai recipe originated and is now ranked at 19 out of 50 of the most popular dishes across the globe. In the old days, Gaeng Khiew Waan was prepared using a salt base with the belief that the natural sweetness from the coconut milk and meat was enough to make it taste good. Ingredients used in the making of Gaeng Khiew Waan include garlic, shallots, lemongrass, coriander, chilli peppers, cumin and galangal to lessen the meat odour as well as boost the taste of the curry soup. With the exception of ground spices and chillies; meat and ingredients such as devil’s figs, Thai eggplants and bamboo shoots can be substituted. When the curry is ready, sweet basil, kaffir lime leaves and pieces of red chillies can garnish the dish and give it a bold colour and beautiful presentation. Gaeng Khiew Waan is normally made with various kinds of meats – beef, pork, chicken, fish and fishballs – and served with steamed rice or Khanom Jeen (fresh rice noodles). Gaeng Khiew Waan Nutrition Facts: This dish provides the average amount of daily protein and is high in fat, but its nutritional value makes Gaeng Khiew Waan good for increasing vitamin, mineral and protein intake. The dish is high in fibre, from devil’s figs and other vegetable ingredients. PHOTO KAY CHOOMONGKOL MAKING A THAI GREEN CURRY (the easy and store-bought way that skips pounding all ingredients in a mortar to make the green curry paste) Ingredients • 2 cups of coconut milk • 2-3 tbsp green curry paste • 1/2 kg of desired meat, cut into bite-size strips • 1/4 kg small, round Thai eggplants (makhuea proh), cut in halves or quarters, or substitute with 2 long Asian eggplants, cut in bite-size chunks • 1/2 cup of small devil’s figs (makhuea phuang) • 2 kaffir lime leaves (bai makrood) • Fish sauce (nam plaa) to taste • 2 tsp palm sugar • 1/2 cup fresh Thai sweet basil leaves (bai horapha) • Slivered chillies, adjusted to desired hotness Cooking Steps Do not shake the can of coconut milk before opening, so that the cream remains on top. Spoon about 2/3rd cup of this thick cream into a medium-size saucepan and heat over medium to high heat. Reduce amount of cream until smooth and bubbly or until oil begins to separate from the cream. Add the curry paste and fry in the cream for a few minutes to release the aromas. Then add the protein of choice and cook it just so and pour in the remaining milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5-10 minutes uncovered before adding the Thai eggplants. Simmer a few minutes more, then stir in the devil’s figs and kaffir lime leaves. Season to taste with fish sauce (may not be needed if the curry paste is already salty). Add palm sugar to balance and enhance the spice and herb flavours to your liking. Continue to simmer until eggplants and devil’s figs are tender. Stir in the basil and chillies (amount based on preferred spiciness) and cook another minute. Serve hot over plain steamed rice or khanom Jeen noodles. The Benefits of Thai Herbs and Spices: Devil’s Figs Amazingly a pain killer, a haemostatic agent (stops bleeding), alleviate symptoms of ulcers, bronchitis and arthritis Kaffir Lime Leaves Reduce inflammatory conditions Sweet Basil Relieves heartburn, gas, stomach distension, encourages appetite Thai Red and Green Chilli Peppers A laxative, carminative agent (prevents formation of gas). Relieves cold, phlegm and creates appetite Shallots Relieves colds and improves the respiratory system Garlic An antibiotic, helps lessen blood cholesterol, cancer-fighting properties Galangal Relieves gas, stomach distension and phlegm Lemongrass Relieves flatulence and stomach distension Coriander Root A detoxifying agent, heals gastritis Cumin Relieves gas and aids in digestion WHITE PEPPER Is believed to fight cancer, aids in digestion or stomach upset and helps improve bone health. 24 25