I was part of Roxby Downs 2018 World Food and Music Festival organisers and one of the activities for the event was to cook traditional food from your country. We all cooked together in the community kitchen and served our food to the crowd at the multicultural event…. It was a fun event, but it required lots of energy and good planning to be able to feed the crowd – Parita Nobthai of @thecrafthumpy
Green Curry is one of the most popular Thai dishes around the world and there are plenty of easy recipes you can follow online. However, cooking this dish in the middle of the desert, with limited supplies and to be shared among the wider community was for me, a challenging experience.
I live in the community of Roxby Downs which is a small mining town in South Australia. To find the nearest Thai restaurant or Asian grocer, residents need to travel approximately 6 hours south to the capital city, Adelaide.
Cooking Thai food in Australia and for community.
I was part of Roxby Downs 2018 World Food and Music Festival organisers and one of the activities for the event was to cook traditional food from your country. We all cooked together in the community kitchen and served our food to the crowd at the multicultural event. The event was a success and the food was a hit among the festival revellers. It was a fun event, but it required lots of energy and good planning to be able to feed the crowd.
My choice to represent my country was Green Curry with Chicken or in Thai, Kaeng Khiao Wan Gai; Kaeng is curry, Khiao is green, Wan is sweet and Gai is chicken. It is one of the very well-known Thai dishes and served in almost every Thai restaurant across Australia and around the world.
I’ve made Green Curry for my family before but making it for a large crowd was hectic. Having to increase all the ingredients and retaining an authentic flavour while toning down the spiciness that we Thai’s love was what took the most effort.
Why Green curry is green?
The curry paste itself is made from fresh ingredients including lemongrass, galangal, garlic, red onion, kaffir lime skin, turmeric, and green chillies. This is what makes the curry paste unique from others. When pounding the ingredients in a mortar, the green chilli will turn black but, the turmeric which is naturally yellow helps bring back the curries vibrant green colour.
You can make green curry paste from the scratch but in this recipe, I will use Maeploy and Maesri Green curry paste as it is more convenient for larger portions and easier than trying to find fresh ingredients.
Vegetables that were used in the curry were limited and not what is normally use in traditional Green curry, but it was what I could find from the only supermarket in town. If you live in the city or close to an Asian grocer, go ahead and get Thai eggplants, snake beans and turkey berries to make your Kaeng Khiao Wan more authentic.
If you cook for a big group of diners, it’s better to prepare all ingredients a day earlier so meat and vegetables can be prepared with care and there will be less stress on preparation and cooking the next day. The total process took two days, the first day for preparation and the second day for cooking.
For green beans, peel the stringy fibre from both sides and chop into lengths of about 1-inch. For bamboo slices, after you open the can, rinse them with hot water or boil them first. Let the bamboo slices dry a bit and keep in separate container. For eggplant and zucchini, chop and wash with salt water and keep in separate container. This process will stop the eggplant from turning black.
Day 1 Making Green Curry Paste
- Add coconut cream in a large pot, bring to the boil then add green curry paste.
- Slowly stir and bring to the boil or as Thai people say “Tak Mon”. This process is used to get the oil out of the coconut cream in order to help the curry paste release its aromas.
- Adding 4 cans of coconut milk and bring it to boil, then remove pot from heat.
- Let the curry cool down, then close the lid and keep it in the cool room or fridge.
The reason we don’t add chicken and vegetable on the first day is because they will be over cooked and look unappetizing. Another tip is instead of buying coconut milk, you can just add water to the coconut cream can, this will make an easy-homemade coconut milk.
Day 2 Combining Chicken and Vegetables
- Heat the green curry prepared a day earlier and bring to the boil.
- Add sliced chicken thighs.
- Bring to the boil again then add bamboos slices, chopped green beans, eggplants and zucchini.
- Add some palm sugar or brown sugar and fish sauce. Be careful you do not overpower with fish sauce or sugar as the taste intensifies over time
- Add sliced chilli, kaffir lime leaves and basil and bring to the boil. Once boiling remove from heat.
Do the last taste for your Green curry, it shouldn’t be too sweet or salty but it’s a balance of flavours. You should taste the saltiness before sweetness and the spiciness towards the end. It is best served with Jasmine rice or another popular option is with Thai rice vermicelli noodles, Kanom Jin in Thai.
And this is the recipe for 25 serves
- Eggplants 1 kg
- Zucchini 1 kg
- Green beans 1 kg
- Basils 5 cups
- Kaffir lime leaves 10 leaves
- Chicken thigh/ breast 4 kg
- Coconut cream 400ml 10 cans
- Green curry pastes 500 g
- Bamboo shoots sliced 5 cans
- Palm sugar/raw sugar 8 tablespoons
- Fish sauce 8 – 10 tablespoons
- Coconut milk/water 4 cans
- Long red Chilli 4
The green curry finished cooking around 2 pm and the service started from 3 pm. There was a mix of food from other countries including Pakistan, Africa, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Japan, America, Brazil and Malaysia. It was an interesting combination of delicious food. If I were a customer, I would have a hard time choosing just one dish. The green curry was sold out around 6 pm with positive feedback from the community.
I can’t thank enough my friend and mentor P’Pao who taught me how to nail this dish. For those of you who don’t believe that you can cook this dish for yourself, friends or family, I suggest give it a go and try this recipe, it’s easier than you think. If you have problems with spiciness don’ t worry, the recipe is already adjusted to tone down the heat. Give it a go and let me know how it went in the comments below.
Tip: if you choose to cook with beef, it’s better to use Jerret, shank or short rib. The traditional way of making green curry is to slowly cook beef shank with low heat in coconut milk for 3 – 4 hours. This process will make the beef soft and tender. The leftover broth is then used in the green curry as well. It will add a lot of flavour to the dish.