Introduction: Thai Curry Chicken
The lazy cook's approach to surprisingly good Thai curry with chicken. Shortcuts abound.
Step 1: Assemble Initial Ingredients
While I love my copy of Thai Food I rarely have the time or ingredients on hand to really make the dishes properly. So, I look at the pretty food porn then try to make something similar that fits my time frame and the ingredients in my fridge.
2 onions, coarsely chopped
few dried chiles, whole
sweet red pepper, chopped (Bell pepper or similar. These were gypsy peppers from the farmers' market.)
1.5 lbs Japanese eggplant*, chopped
few fresh chiles, chopped (how spicy do you like your curries?)
ginger, coarsely chopped
leeks, chopped (I had leftovers in the fridge; they're hardly traditional)
Add the onions and dried chiles to the pot with some canola oil, and stir while you chop the rest of the veggies.
*Use anything but the big Italian type. Asian eggplants are smaller, sweeter, and cook better in stir-fries.
Step 2: Add Vegetables
When the onions have browned, add the leeks and hot peppers.
When they've softened, add the eggplant, a bit more canola oil, and the ginger. Stir as needed to prevent sticking.
Step 3: Chicken
Chop chicken (or turkey) into small chunks, then add to the pot after the eggplant has softened. Boneless bird meat of any type should work nicely.
Step 4: Season
~1c coconut cream (coconut milk will do)
~1T curry powder to taste/color
2-3 limes, zested* and juiced
5+ cloves grated garlic* (I like LOTS of garlic; your mileage may vary)
grated ginger* (yes, we did add ginger earlier- this is extra)
handful cilantro, chopped
handful raisins (sweet)
~1T brown sugar (in lieu of palm sugar)
fresh ground pepper
optional but very good:
~1t fish sauce (to taste)
splash sesame oil
~1/2t tamarind paste (for additional sourness)
fresh tumeric, grated* (for yellow and a bit of flavor depth)
*use a microplane zester
Add seasonings and stir as the chicken cooks. This should go quickly if you've chopped it into small enough chunks. When the chicken is done, taste and adjust seasonings as desired. You should clearly taste hot, sour, sweet, and salty within the curry. Punching up the flavor with a bit more of the fresh ingredients at the very end can be extra-good.
Step 5: Serve
Garnish with cilantro and roasted, chopped nuts. I've used cashews here, but peanuts or almonds will also work well.
Like all curries, this stores and reheats well, and improves as the flavors mingle.
I was actually surprised by how good this was; it was an intentional hack job, given that I skipped many of the proper ingredients and preparation steps. We were out of galangal and lemongrass, I didn't feel like picking kaffir lime leaves in the rain, these weren't the proper type of peppers, and leeks in curry? Whatever. Curries are quite forgiving, and so long as you have a good idea of what a good one tastes like you can modify the flavors at the end to make something quite convincing.
Next time I'd cut both the turkey and the eggplant into smaller pieces, but otherwise it was quite tasty.