Thai food is known as one of the most popular cuisines in the world. It has enticed many taste buds and is known to be a staple in households outside of Thailand. We have classic Thai dishes such as Pad Thai, Tom Yum Kung, and Mango with Sticky Rice. These dishes have somewhat become very popular and can be found in almost anywhere in the world.
We also have another Thai dish that is starting to get recognition worldwide and most definitely encapsulates what Thai cuisines is, their curry pastes which are made of aromatic herbs and spices.
Thai Curries are starting to become popular and a testament to this is when the Thai dish, Massaman Curry, a peanut-based curry, have taken the top spot for the CNN Travel’s “World’s 50 Best Food” for this year and they have dubbed this dish as the King of curries due to the perfect combination of sweet, spicy, and savoury flavours. Thus, confirming that Thai Curries have captured and won the international taste buds.
There are different kinds of curries and each have their own distinct tastes and unique herbs and spices that elevates the dishes. Let’s list some of them down.
Thai Red Curry Paste
Thai Red Curry Paste is one of the basic curry pastes used in Thai dishes. This curry paste can be added in soups, and stir-fries. It is also called as “Khrueang Kaeng Phet” in Thai. It comprises of ingredients such as dried Thai Chilis, garlic, lemongrass, salt, shrimp paste and turmeric.
Thai Green Curry Paste
Thai Green Curry paste is a versatile curry paste which can be used with any meat of your choosing such as beef, chicken, tofu, or catfish. It is called as “Nam Prik Gaeng Khiaw Waan” in Thai. The ingredients for this curry paste are green hot chilies, garlic, galangal, shallots, kaffir lime rind, peppercorn, lemon grass, cumin seeds, shrimp paste, coriander seeds, and coriander roots. All these ingredients are mashed together in a mortar and pestle which makes a paste.
Yellow Curry Paste
Yellow curry paste is the less spicy among the Thai curry pastes. This curry past is also versatile and can be used in any meat, noodles, vegetable and soup dishes. It is known as “Nam Prik Gaeng Karee” in Thai. This curry paste comprises of dried chilis, shallots, galangal, garlic, lemon grass, coriander seeds, curry powder, cumin seeds, shrimp paste, and ginger. You may make this curry paste by using mortar and pestle for the best outcome, however, if you don’t have the time, you may also use a blender to create the curry paste.
Panang Curry Paste
Panang curry paste is another popular paste and its name is taken from the city island in Malaysia called, “Penang”. This curry paste is also creamier, and sweeter as compared to other Thai curry pastes. It is called as “Kaeng Phanaeng Neua” in Thai. Its ingredients comprises of galangal root, coriander seeds, kaffir lime peel, roasted mild green chili peppers, cumin seeds, lemon grass, cardamom pods, peppercorns, big red dried chillies, coriander root, shallots, garlic, mace and shrimp paste. This curry is also well-known to westerners due to its distinct taste.
Massaman Curry Paste
Massaman curry is the base for the popular Thai curry dish, “Massaman Curry” and this curry originated from the Southern part of Thailand. This is the other distinct curry paste due to the peanut taste and is known to be less spicy as compared to the other curry. It is called “Nam Phrik Kaeng Massaman” in Thai. Massaman Curry comprises of ingredients such as cumin, grated nutmeg, cloves, shallot, garlic, lemon grass, galangal, ground white pepper, shrimp paste, coriander seeds, ground cinnamon, kaffir lime rind, dried red chili peppers and coriander root. The most popular meat used with this curry is chicken however, you may also use beef, mutton or lamb which is also widely used in Thailand.
Now that we have talked and learned more about the different curry pastes in Thailand, let’s see some popular Thai curry dishes which you may have already heard or even tasted before. Let’s list of these dishes and find out how these curry pastes elevate each of the dishes’ flavours.
1. Chicken Massaman Curry
As mentioned above, this is probably now one of the most popular curry dishes in Thailand is can cater to foodies who cannot eat too much spice in their food. It has its unique Muslim influence with the herbs and spices used. This is also a favourite in the Southern of Thailand and for sure something that you should not miss.
2. Khao Soi Noodles
Another dish that is underrated and deserving of more recognition is Khao Soi Noodles. It is a coconut-based curry noodles dish that is service over some egg noodles and topped with onion, pickled cabbage, chili and fried noodles. It is a dish that is influence by Burmese cuisine and is found everywhere throughout Northern Thailand. It is perfect to eat on days that are cold and helps to warm your body with the comforting taste and its spice.
3. Panang Curry
This dish could be mistaken as the more common red curry due to the similarities in colour and appearance. However, their taste is very distinctive due to the spices and herbs used for this curry paste such as the cumin and nutmeg. This dish is usually served with beef and with ground peanuts. This dish is less spicy and have a thicker consistency for its soup
Thai cuisine has a ton of curry dishes to choose from and these three are just some of the most popular ones. If you are adventurous with foods, then take some time to try others and taste for yourself the difference with the taste, and identify the herbs, and spices used in their dishes.
Though making the curry from scratch could be a lot of work, you can also buy the pre-made one in your local grocery store to save you some time and have more time to eat and enjoy the dish. Bon appetit!