There’s something special about making meals from scratch in my opinion. Yes, it takes longer, but the end result is both delicious and also serves as a physical manifestation of your hard work. It’s almost like spending an afternoon cleaning the apartment, stepping back and admiring the view. One food which I had never made from scratch was a green or red chilli paste to make coconut-based curries. I’ve always bought the jarred version at the store which consistently let me down. Not only were they not spicy enough, but they also lacked the fresh flavors of the ginger, shallots and various herbs.
This recipe tries to find the middle ground between effort & convenience; simplicity & taste. Instead of making the curry paste by hand in a mortar and pestle, all the fresh ingredients are thrown into the blender with the coconut milk. We get all the delicious flavors in a smooth and rich sauce without the arm-wrenching work of a mortar and pestle. Be warned, this recipe is spicy. For anyone who has a lower spice tolerance, I would not hesitate to cut down the number of chili peppers to three.
Additionally, the ingredients in the sauce itself are given in weight measurements. I find this to be the easiest – no need to dirty any measuring spoons as well as no need to guess what a 1 ½ inch piece of ginger looks like. Finally, this recipe includes a new ingredient I am very excited about – MSG! An often controversial ingredient, whose health concerns were really misplaced and rooted in racism, is quite delicious and helps bring depth of flavor to fatty foods. If you can’t find it or feel it is unnecessary, feel free to skip, however I will be cooking with it more often in the future! I hope you enjoy the curry!
Active time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 2 orange bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 50g cilantro, stems cut off where leaves begin
- 100g shallots, roots & skins removed (about 3 small shallots)
- 60g ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- ¼ cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
- 6 thai green chili peppers (Stems removed)
- 8 white peppercorns
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- 2 tsp coconut sugar (can be subbed for brown sugar)
- Bunch of Thai basil
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp MSG
- 1 can sliced water chestnuts (~227 ml can)
- Coconut oil
- Preferred rice to serve the curry with
- Prepare preferred rice in advance.
- Heat a dutch oven on medium heat. Once hot, add in enough coconut oil to thinly cover the bottom. Add in the bell peppers, zucchini and onion and a few generous pinches of salt. Cook for 6-8 minutes stirring occasionally until beginning to soften but not totally devoid of crunch.
- While the vegetables are cooking, make the sauce. Add the cilantro, shallot, ginger, lime juice, green chili peppers, peppercorns, coconut milk, sugar, Thai basil, cumin, MSG and ¾ tsp salt to a blender (I find easiest way to do this is to weight the ingredients as I add them to the blender). Blend on high for 2-3 minutes until very smooth.
- Once vegetables are cooked, add in the blended sauce and sliced water chestnuts and heat until simmering. Taste for salt levels and adjust accordingly.
- Serve while steaming hot over rice & enjoy!