Curry favour

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Virgil Evetts

Nothing quite so disagreeable as durian or vote splitting as the great yeast spread debate for this posting. Just a quick and easy meal I threw together the other night and rather enjoyed. I thought you might too.

Normally Thai curries are a lazy weeknight meal for us, but on Saturday night our plans changed suddenly and we found ourselves at home without sufficient time or by that stage inclination to get truly creative in the kitchen. I wanted takeaways, she wanted to eat in, and as usual I lost. Being a dab hand in the kitchen can be a double edged sword sometimes.

So I threw together a Thai red curry, of the fabulously fast [and lazy] ready made paste variety, which thanks to a few minor deviations from my normal routine left us almost dazed with delight. Well it left me dazed with delight anyway. My best beloved takes a rather clinical approach to my cooking  these days [having been subjected to it for over a decade] so is never exactly gushing in her feedback. It’s usually ‘nice’ or ‘well…’ She declared this one a success, which is high praise indeed.


Thai red curry of chicken, lychee and peas.

1 tablespoon + Thai red curry paste

1 can coconut milk

1 can lychee [including syrup]

1 cup frozen peas

2 breasts skinless free- range chicken

Peanut oil

Fish sauce

2-4 fresh kaffir lime leaves

Cut the chicken into small bite sized pieces. Add a good glug of peanut oil to a wok or deep pan and heat. Add the curry paste and stir for moment until fragrant and starting to melt and splutter.

Add the coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves. Boil on high until the coconut milk splits- the Thais call this ‘cracking’ the curry. Add the chicken and stir. Add the lychees and ¾ of the syrup. When the chicken is cooked add fish sauce to taste. This is the only source of salt in the dish, so don’t be too stingy. Add the peas and simmer until just heated through.  Add more fish sauce or syrup as required. The finished curry should have a good balance of sweet to salty- depending on your personal taste.

 Serve with jasmine rice and roti.

Try it out, see what you think.

 If anyone else has a great Thai curry recipe- please do share, and also as a brief survey- let us know what colour Thai curry you prefer?

Red, green or yellow, orange????

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20 thoughts on “Curry favour

  1. Thanks Rachel for your helpful information. I am going to ask Father Christmas for a plant for Christmas as well as checking out your mentioned stores for leaves.

  2. Caro: Kaffir leaves can be brought from the asian food stores in Christchurch, either fresh or frozen. Two of note I would recommend are on Cashel Street, just before Fitzgerald Avenue, on the city side. One is in the old Cash & Carry building.
    We also grow a kaffir lime in my herb garden, and it has set fruit for the first time this year, after being in a pot which I put under cover in winter for years, it seems to like being in the ground alot more! I know Oderings and some other nurserys stock these trees most of the year.

  3. I think I would use dried leaves before lemon.
    Kaffir limes can easily be kept as small potted bushes, much like bay trees. You never need more than few leaves at a time anyway, so it not a big deal if it never turns into a an actual tree [my kaffir here in Auckland is now about 3 metres high!]. I strongly suspect you could grow one against a warm sheltered wall. Frost is far more damaging than snow, so if you can avoid that you should be ok. If in doubt throw a rug over it on the coldest nights- seriously! In the short term I suggest a trip into ChCh for some dried leaves and see if you can pick up a kaffir bush on line.

  4. Hi, In response to your question Virgil, I live just out of Christchurch (towards the mountains!) so I don’t like my chances of growing a lime tree as we usually get at least one snow fall a winter.
    In my next curry I thought I would try substituting lemon leaves for the kaffir lime leaves as I have do have one live lemon bush at present. Do you think this is a good idea as I am sure someone once mentioned you could do this? My supermarket jar of kaffir lime leaves contents list Kaffir lime leaves, salt and food acid as the ingredients so surely I can’t go to wrong??

  5. That’s very encouraging!
    You guys do have a pretty mild climate by South island standards though. Those Alps may dump several metres of water on you each year but they also protect you from the seriously cold temps.
    My father in law has a place in Cromwell and I don’t fancy the chances of a kaffir lime doing too well there!
    You’re right though, they are pretty tough trees, about on par with a regular lime in my experience.
    Do your trees set fruit?

  6. Whoa there virgil!
    The South Island may be closer to Antarctica than the North but I have 3 healthy kaffir limes growing outside here on the West Coast!

  7. Caro, where in NZ do you live?
    Kaffir lime trees can be grown pretty much anywhere in the North island and in a conservatory further south. Any good garden centre will either carry kaffir lime trees or will be able to order one for you.
    I’m not aware of preserved kaffir lime leaves being sold anywhere, but as I have my own tree I’ve never looked.. Dried are available from many Asian supermarkets, but have a very weak flavour. The only alternative to fresh I would recommend is frozen.

  8. I love curries and are really enjoying making my own these days. Admittedly they are based on a ready made paste but I add more ingredients. My question is about kaffir lime leaves which I love to add to a curry. I am finding the supermarket jar product expensive to buy so does anyone know if you buy large jars of kaffir lime leaves anywhere or can I use a dried product or even make my own from my lemon tree leaves???

  9. I like ’em all… especially if the paste is home made. The pastes are easy to make and can be frozen. I usually roll them into a cylinder of plastic wrap and then can slice off chunks to use. They look disturbingly slug like in the freezer but it works.

  10. I get a lot of enjoyment from using curry recipes which include the ingredients of the curry iteself and use a small coffee grinder to grind them. Admittedly I use a (non-Thai produced) green curry paste but add chopped coriander, Vietnamese mint, kaffir lime leaves (the last grown at home)basil, mint garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, fish sauce and brown sugar. the result is really more-ish but probably far removed from the genuine Thai flavour – but then again I guess that hopefully Virgi would approve (n’est’ce pas?)!!!

  11. Well that had me stumped too!
    So I consulted a few texts and apparently there really isn’t a single definition of the word ‘curry’. It’s derived from an old Tamil word [kari] that basically means ‘sauce’. So my guess is that it means different things to different people. It has been carried around the world by both English and Indian communities and applied to all manner of existing local dishes and new hybridised ones.
    So by that logic everyone’s version of curry is as valid as the next.
    Go Nanna’s [totally legitimate] curried precooked sausages!

  12. Out of interest what do you think constitutes a curry – ie what are the essential curry components?
    I did a cooking class last night and made a fish curry – they paste was chillies, shallots and lime leaves. I was asked what part was the curry…. which threw me a bit – what is a curry?

  13. Yes, Cock Brand is my prefered range too.
    BBQ duck is very versatile stuff and does indeed work exceptionally well with round green beans in red curry. A bit of pineapple dosnt hurt either! Hmm, hungry now.

  14. I like both green and red curries but the quality of curry paste is the defining difference. I use the Cock Brand Thai Curry Paste, it comes in both green and red and is in a pottle container. A while ago I bought some Charmaine Solomon red curry paste which was seriously expensive and I was really disappointed with it.
    A current favourite curry is red duck curry with green beans. I buy a Chinese BBQ duck that is chopped up so the whole curry only takes about 10 minutes to throw together. I thought the recipe was on foodlovers but it isn’t so I must remember to write it down next time I make it.

  15. I only buy curry pastes if they are actually made in Thailand- yes they can be rather hot as a rule but are of a consistantly high quality and are very good value.
    Green curry is usually a bit hotter than red, Panang [orange] is hotter again where as yellow as used in massaman curry is often quite mild.
    In summer I sometimes make my own Thai curry pastes, but I dont like to disturb the galangal or lemon grass plants this time of year.

  16. I like them all but I think green is my favourite. I find the different brands vary enormously and with the Asian brands at times they are unbearably hot for my tastebuds, but the NZ ones can be far too mild. I tend to buy the Asian ones from my local thai shop but start off stingy with the sachet and then add more if required.