As my first curry on this blog, I picked Thai green curry. It’s one of the world’s most popular dishes, well known and eaten widely in countries around the world.
Green curry, transliterated from Thai as kaeng khiao wan meaning ‘sweet green curry’, derives its characteristic colour from the green chillies used to make the curry paste. Green curry originates from central Thailand, where it is a relatively recent dish. They can be traced back to the reign of Thai King Rama VI or Rama VII, between the years 1908-1926 when the country was called Siam. This makes it remarkably new considering many Thai dishes can be traced back over 500 years.
Your key ingredient will be green curry paste: a paste made from green chillies, shallots, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime peel, coriander and cumin seeds. It is possible to make your own green curry paste by combining the ingredients and mixing them with a mortar and pestle (although you may have difficulty finding some of the ingredients such as kaffir lime leaves and galangal in a British supermarket). However, most stores will sell green curry paste, and you can pick it up easily. Beware though, as some Thai curry pastes are made with fish in them, so it’s always important to check the ingredients when you are buying it. In the future I plan to make my own curry pastes, and will hopefully post a blog on it here.
For this meal, the paste I used was Thai Taste’s green paste – readily available in UK supermarkets, and handily marked as ‘vegan’ too.
Whereas the creamy style of certain Indian curries like the korma get their cream base from dairy cream, the creamy effect of curry in Thai cuisine comes from coconut milk – which means it’s already vegan! Pick up a few cans of coconut milk from your supermarket when you can, as it’s always handy to have a few spare in the vegan pantry.
As a replacement for meat, I went with a can of Granovita’s mock duck. This is just seitan, and is a great texture for curries. It is far firmer than tofu and will stay together when cooked, unlike tofu which often breaks up. Seitan (also called wheat gluten) is also very high in protein. It can be easily found in most health food or Chinese grocery stores, or you can get a pack of cans on Amazon. You can also make your own seitan, which is a relatively simple and certainly cheap method. I’ll be writing a lot more about seitan on this blog in the future!
The longer you cook the seitan, the more tender it will be. When cooking the curry, first add your curry paste to the oil and simmer it for a few minutes, then add the seitan/mock duck, and let it simmer. This gets the seitan coated in the spices of the curry paste. Simmer for at least 10 minutes on a gentle heat before adding the rest of your ingredients. Feel free to experiment with this simmering time until you find the texture you like your seitan to be.
Once the seitan has been simmering in the curry paste until tender, you can add the rest of the ingredients: whatever vegetables you’ve decided to use and the coconut milk. Thai green curry is typically a very simple dish – there aren’t many ingredients. The traditional vegetable is Thai aubergine (eggplant). If you can use a Thai aubergine then do, but if you can’t find one then a local aubergine will also work. You should add some sliced red chillies too while cooking.
The ingredients are simply:
- Mock duck/seitan
- Thai green curry paste
- Thai aubergine
- Coconut milk
- Red chillies, sliced
- Sweet basil leaves for garnish
Feel free to experiment with extra vegetables if you wish, although remember that this curry is typically very simple, with just a few key ingredients. This makes it simple to make, and is a delicious dish! It is in fact so simple to cook, you don’t really need a real recipe – the information enough should suffice. It makes Thai green curry a perfect quick vegan meal to make.
The goal of these posts is not to provide accurate, useful recipes. Rather, it is to discuss the meal itself, to discuss how I made it, to discuss a little of the history of the meal, the history of the cuisine, and to explore how we take what makes the meal important and create a vegan version of it. The object will be to make it with ingredients that are readily available in most shops, particularly here in the UK where I live. We will of course discuss the key ingredients and the method for making the meal, and this will take more the form of a recipe when needed, but mostly we’re for simple easy to cook vegan meals inspired by traditional dishes.
I served my curry with jasmine rice, a delicious aromatic rice, which you can find is most large supermarkets. It’s primarily grown in Thailand, and it goes perfectly with Thai green curry.
This is one of my favourite curries, simple to make and with a unique flavour. Seitan is the perfect texture for this curry – so give it a try if you’ve not had it before.