Authentic Thai Green Curry – straight from Chiang Mai!

Even though we’re in the thick of winter here in Chicago, my mind is still in beautiful Thailand. My husband and I recently got back from an incredible adventure to Thailand & Cambodia (blog post coming soon) and my heart still aches for the beautiful people, culture, and FOOD of Southeast Asia. It continues to be my absolute favorite part of the world.

One of our favorite memories of the trip was a half-day cooking class in Chiang Mai through Zabb-E-Lee Cooking School. We had such a great time exploring Thai markets, picking up fresh ingredients (still can’t get over the fragrance of kaffir lime), and then spending a few hours in a gorgeous outdoor, bohemian-style kitchen whipping up over six dishes. Such a delightful experience for a couple who loves to cook together.

I’m excited to share the recipe from our culinary adventures for Zabb-E-Lee’s chicken green curry. It was absolutely delicious and SO easy to make (well, once all the spices were ground up). I made it once at home too with store-bought green curry paste, and it was still pretty damn good. Obviously not as fragrant and fresh as the Chiang Mai version, but still a great recipe to quickly whip up when you’re craving some curry. Got my hubby hooked on Thai food now. Enjoy!

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Starting off the day picking fresh ingredients from the market with our awesome instructor

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Literally the cutest space for our cooking class. So boho chic! 

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So proud of our culinary creations!

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Silky smooth green curry. Nothing like that fresh taste of coconut cream and kaffir lime. 

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My version at home – more veggies, low fat coconut milk, and store bought green curry paste. Sorry for the poor picture quality – alas, not much natural lighting in Chicago right now. Still delicious, and SO easy to make! 

Thai Green Chicken Curry (recipe adapted from Zabb-E-Lee Cooking School)

Ingredients (serves 3-4) 

2 tbsp canola oil
6 chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can coconut cream (highly recommend the Aroy-D brand)
1.5 tbsp green curry paste* (I used the Thai Kitchen brand, but see below for the recipe to make this from scratch)
1 eggplant, cut into squares
1 zucchini, cut into squares
Handful of green beans (per your liking)
2 tbsp sweet basil
3 leaves kaffir lime leaf, torn in half
1 tbsp pea eggplant (optional – I didn’t use this)
2 red chilis, sliced diagonally
2 tsp palm sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce

Recipe

Let the oil heat on a wok or non-stick pan on medium high. Stir the green curry paste for a few minutes until fragrant and the oil surfaces. Add the chicken thighs and stir until fully cooked. Gradually add the coconut milk and add in the eggplant, zucchini, and green beans. Cover and let simmer. When the veggies are cooked, add palm sugar, fish sauce, sweet basil, kaffir lime, and red chilis. THAT’S IT – you’re done! Enjoy with rice or noodles.

*Green Curry Paste (from Zabb-E-Lee’s cookbook)

Ingredients

10 fresh green chilies, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp galangal finely chopped
1 tbsp lemongrass, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 shallots, sliced
1 tsp kaffir lime ride, finely sliced
1 tbsp coriander roots, chopped
1 tsp fresh turmeric or turmeric powder
1 tsp shrimp paste (this is the secret sauce!)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp roasted coriander seeds
1/2 tsp roasted cumin
1 tsp ginger

Directions

Combine coriander seeds, cumin, black pepper in a mortar, pound well. Add chilies and salt to the mixture and continue pounding. Add remaining ingredients (except for the shrimp paste) and pound again. After everything is smooth, add the shrimp paste and continue pounding until the mixture is a smooth paste.

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Mastering My Mom’s Classic Chicken Curry

Happy belated Halloween, all! The last few weeks have been so busy, I didn’t even realize it’s been 12 whole days since my last post. Ahem, clearly I need to do a better job of posting regularly, but I’m not going to be too hard on myself. I want blogging to continue feeling like a hobby rather than a chore.

Anyways, life has been keeping me busy lately with work, amazing fall weather, and the usual fun fall festivities. I just love this time of the year! Two weekends ago, my husband and I celebrated Durga Puja (a Hindu festival honoring the Goddess Durga) by getting decked out in our Indian clothes, attending a Bengali community gathering at UIC, and then cooking up a Bengali feast at home. I feel like I’m finally mastering my mom’s classic chicken curry and wanted to share the recipe with you guys. It’s incredibly simple to make, but always hits the spot when I’m craving homemade Indian food. It really is the best comfort food and I love how Bengalis add a little bit of sugar to their chicken curries. It makes all the difference.

Enjoy the recipe and give me a shout if you have any questions!

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 Ingredients (serves 4-6)

6 chicken drumsticks, 6 chicken thighs
1 tbsp Greek yogurt
1 tbsp milk
1/2 large onion, sliced into long slender pieces
4 garlic gloves, grated
1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
Optional: 3 green chilis, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp peppercorn
1.5 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)
1/2 tomato, finely diced
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
Salt, to taste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Recipe 

In a large bowl, marinate the drumsticks and thighs in the Greek yogurt,  1/2 teaspoon of haldi and a sprinkling of salt. Don’t go overboard with the yogurt, because it can easily curdle while cooking! I’ve learned that the hard way.

While the chicken is marinating, prep the onion, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes. Heat the oil on a large pan. Once the oil is hot, drop in the sugar until it becomes to caramelize. Stir the sugar around the pan so it doesn’t stick to the pan – this is what will give the curry a darker color. Fry the onions, garlic, and ginger in the sugar until the mixture becomes a little brown. Throw in the tomatoes, remaining haldi, garam masala, chili powder, optional spices, and stir for a few minutes. Drop in the chicken pieces (get rid of the watery yogurt mixture that’s remaining in the bowl – this will curdle!) and fry on each side for a few minutes till they start browning slightly. Pour the milk over the mixture to help tenderize the chicken. Season the curry generously with salt and continue stirring so that all the chicken is coated in the onion and spice mixture. Add half a cup of water, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Let the curry simmer on low for 20-30 minutes – note that the thighs will cook first (after 15-20 minutes), so remove them into a separate platter to avoid overcooking. The drumsticks will take slightly longer to cook. Once the drumsticks are done, taste the curry to make sure it’s seasoned to your liking (this is there stage where I usually add more garam masala or chili powder!).

Finally, garnish the curry with fresh cilantro leaves and serve with a steaming hot plate of rice and a side of Greek yogurt. Best enjoyed on a rainy, homesick sorta day.