I’ve always been a lover of international foods and cuisines. It’s been a bit of a dream of mine to travel to different countries around the world, and though I can’t really say that I’ve achieved that dream thus far, I do feel that by trying different cuisines you can get a sense of different cultures without having to step out of your home.
For a long time, I loved to explore Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods but since marrying Mr Reviews a few years ago, I’ve been cooking a lot more East Asian foods, as it is one of his favourite cuisines. Thai food has been popular for a very long time and you can find ready made pastes and Thai inspired ingredients in pretty much any supermarket these days. However, despite the popularity, I’d always felt a bit hesitiant to try it in case I didn’t really like it. Coming from a Bangladeshi background, I pretty much grew up on curry. In fact majority of the curry houses in the UK are run by Bangladeshis. So it’s the Bengali people who got the UK into curry too. Would I really like another country’s version of curry?
However, with a little bit of enouragement from Mr Reviews, I decided to try it out. And secretly, I told myself if I didn’t like it, I’d at least make sure he eats it! I tried Thai Green Curry first of all, before trying a spicier Thai Red Curry and then later Pad Kra Pao (chicken with holy basil). The first few times I made the curries, I was determined to be as authentic as possible and get all of the fresh ingredients to make my own paste from scratch. This involved having to drive around quite a bit to go to some far out Thai or Chinese supermarkets which sold all of the specialist ingredients I was after (such as Thai basil, galangal, kafir lime leaves, lemongrass etc). It was a bit pricy too. Some supermarkets do have all of these ingredients anyway, but you can’t always guarantee to find it at your local store. Preparing the ingredients for the paste was also a bit of a long and messy affair, particularly for a newbie to the cuisine. But I was able to freeze some of my curry paste for future use and the final product was a a delicious and satisfying surprise. I was completely won over by the freshness of Thai food. It was a totally different style to the usual South Asian curries I was used to but different in a good and completely delicious way.
I knew I wanted to have Thai food more often but I was finding it a bit of a faff to source all the ingredients. Plus, unlike all the Indian spices which I use a bit more often, I knew some of the Thai ingredients wouldn’t get used up or would go to waste, I was reluctatnt to try supermarket pastes (I’d tried a Thai Red Curry paste a few years back and it was pretty bland). On a shopping trip to Waitrose one day though, I was perusing their fantastic world foods section and stumbled across this Thai seasoning mix from Bart. The price of £2.99 felt a bit steep for the small size of the package but it looked pretty good quality and I do feel like you can get more flavour from a dry spice mix rather than a wet paste. The ingredients consisted of Onion, Garlic, Chilli, Coriander Leaf, Lemongrass, Ginger, Basil and Red Pepper. I decided I would make my own modified, albeit slightly less authentic curry paste and then top up the flavour with the Bart’s dried spice.
Blitzing up my simplified curry paste took seconds and with the help of the Bart seasoning, I can easily cook a Thai curry now in about 30-45 minutes. My version does miss out on ingredients such as galangal and kafir lime leaves, but honestly it tastes just as delicious, and I can’t really tell the different without it. Because you’re still making your own basic paste, it still tastes fresh and aromatic. So if you’re after a delicious warming Thai curry and are not too worried about being 100% authentic, then I’d definitely recommend this product.
Thai Curry Paste
- 1 onion
- 1-2 inch piece ginger
- 3 cloves garlic
- Large handful of coriander,stems included
- 3-4 bird’s eye chillies
- 2-4 tbs oil
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1-2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2-3 tsp brown sugar/coconut sugar
- 1 chicken breast, diced
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 1 tin coconut water
- Handful of baby corn, halved
- Handful of green beans, sliced
- 1/2 – 1 cup water
- 2-3 tbsp Bart’s Thai seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Handful of coriander chopped
- Combine all the ingredients for the paste in a bowl and use a hand blender to blend into a paste.
- In a large pan or skillet, add oil and allow to heat up. Pour in the paste and stir and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add 1/2 tsp salt, ground cumin, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar and stir. Let all the ingredients cook together for 3-5 minutes, adding a few tablespoons of water at a time if it sticks to the pan.
- Add the chicken breast and stir to coat in the sauce. Allow to cook for 2 minutes then add in the coconut milk. Use the coconut milk tin to add 1 cup water. Leave to simmer on medium-high heat for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
- Add in the vegetables, cover and leave to simmer on a low heat until the vegetables have cooked through and the sauce is bubbling.
- Season to taste and garnish with chopped coriander. Serve with rice.