I love Thai curries – fragrant and yet with a real belt to them , like being unexpectedly punched in the face while smelling an exquisite rose.
Here, I’ve ditched what most would consider the normal approach – starting with a pre-made curry paste and using a . Both products often contain an array of substances such as thickeners, sweeteners, and preservatives which many if not all following a Paleo regime might perhaps want to avoid. The best paste, for example, that I could find in our supermarkets where I live in the UK was made by Sharwoods, and even that contained rice vinegar, which I know that many object to.
A far better but more time consuming method is to prepare your own spice mixture. This does mean, however, that when combined with the potentially fiddly preparation of the accompanying cauliflower rice, this meal becomes a weekend special for when you have time to spare, rather than something you could throw together in under an hour for a mid-week quick supper.
The base of our sauce will be 2 spice mixtures, one “dry”, and the other “wet”.
I should point out at this early stage that after decades of giving my tastebuds an almost constant chilli based hammering, I require quite a dose simply to get my taste buds to sit up and take notice. Consequently, proceed with caution. I’ve roughly halved my normal levels here, so you may have to adjust the amount of chilli accordingly. While you’re at it, check the garlic levels too, and cater to your own tastes.
Serves 2 at a stretch with plenty of cauliflower rice, or 1 quite hungry individual.
- 3 heaped tsps ground coriander
- 2 heaped tsps ground cumin
- 1 heaped tsp turmeric
- 1 heaped tsp ground ginger
- 3 cloves, ground
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 kafir lime leaves
- ½ tsp white pepper powder
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp hot chilli powder
- Twist of salt and black pepper
- 2 stalks lemon grass, cut in half and bruised lightly
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 red or green birds eye (small and hot!) chillies
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 50g sachet of creamed coconut – I like Pataks, which is a 100% coconut product
- 1 small to medium aubergine, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
- About 10 or so of the mushrooms of your choice, sliced
- 150g cooked prawns, or shrimp as some like to call them, defrosted if frozen.
- 2 tbsps fish sauce – ensure you use one that contains anchovies and salt ONLY
- lime juice
- A kettle of freshly boiled water
- Heat the oil up in a pan. I use a deep, non-stick casserole. Gently fry the shallots, ginger, and chillies for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a further 2 or 3 minutes. Add the dry spice mix, and stir in to coat the dry spices with the oil so they start to release their flavour. Fry for a further minute.
- Start introducing the hot water at this stage, to start forming the sauce proper. It doesn’t want to be too thick or too thin just yet. Simmer gently for about 4 minutes.
- Stir in the creamed coconut – you may have to keep a close eye on the consistency from now on as the coconut will have a thickening effect on the sauce. Continue to simmer for another 4 or 5 minutes.
- Add the sliced mushrooms and the cubed aubergine, adjusting the consistency of the sauce as required – think ahead – they will absorb quite a bit of water as they cook. Cover, and cook the vegetables in the sauce on a low simmer. Meanwhile, start to prepare the cauliflower rice.
- Separate off from a head of cauliflower as many florets as required for the amount of “rice” you need. Rinse them, then allow to dry.
- Then, by whatever means you have available (food processor, box grater, hand cranked mill, etc.) grate the cauliflower. You don’t want dust here, and neither do you want big lumps. Aim for somewhere that averages out round about the size of rice grains. To finish the cauliflower I personally put it in a suitable microwavable container, moisten it slightly, cover, and then steam in the microwave for about 3 minutes. Some prefer to pan fry it in a little oil, then cover and cook it that way. Whatever floats your boat amigo.
- Meanwhile, back at the curry, once the aubergine and mushrooms are cooked, all that remains to be done before serving is to add the lime juice to taste along with the fish sauce and the prawns, which being pre-cooked only want a quick warm through. If you’re feeling extravagant garnish with chopped fresh coriander (cilantro as some of our chums refer to it, I believe), or even chopped cashews or dessicated coconut. Serve with the cauliflower rice on the side.