How to Make Thai Green Curry Paste

One of the joys of living in Southeast Asia is the astounding and mouthwatering variety of food it offers. The sights, sounds and scents (not all fragrant) of the street markets, the hustle and bustle of the wet markets and the availability of steamy, delicious and inexpensive meals just can’t be replicated in the West.

After moving to London, I started to recreate all my favourite Southeast Asian dishes in my own kitchen, mostly out of desperation as I wasn’t impressed with the Eastern offerings at many restaurants. The task usually involved lots of research, frantic phonecalls to aunts in foreign lands, a hunt for a well-stocked Asian grocer and lots of grinding of exotic spices and herbs (sometimes of teeth) afterwards.

This recipe is for a paste that will help you make (to the applause of your guests) your very own Thai green curry!

  • 3 long, green chillies
  • 10 small, green chillies (bird’s eye)
  • lemongrass, 1 stalk, with the white part chopped
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 inch galangal, chopped
  • coriander roots, fistful
  • Ground coriander, 1 tsp
  • Ground white pepper, 1/2 tsp
  • Ground cummin, 1/2 tsp
  • Lime leaves, 1 tsp worth, chopped
  • Salt, 1 tsp
  • Fish sauce, 2 tsp
  1. In a mini processor, add the chillies, lemongrass, shallots and garlic
  2. Process in bursts til they are chopped finely
  3. Add all the other ingredients and process to a smoothish paste
  4. Be patient, I never said this was an easy assignment!
  5. You may add some canola oil to ease the process
  6. The paste may be wrapped in foil, in tablespoonfuls, and frozen.

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November 20, 2008. Tags: , . Asian, Mains, Thai. 1 comment.

Not Just Any Pumpkin Pie

I resisted baking pumpkin pies for many years because I found them too rich, too squashy or simply not worthy of plate licking. During our years in Canada, where a plethora of pumpkin varieties abounds in the fall, I decided to modify and build upon a basic 4-ingredient pie recipe (found on the back of a can of pureed pumpkin) and combined the result with an interesting crust for the popular winner here.

As the end result has proved excessively good, those keen to know more may contact me through this blog.

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November 17, 2008. Tags: , . Autumn, Baked Goods, Desserts, Festive, winter. 3 comments.

Keralan Fish Curry

Happily, I don’t need to pretend to be an authority on food from Kerala because I know it intimately. Perhaps my love of fish comes from having descended from lakeside and seaside- dwelling folk who lived off the harvest of the sea on the idyllic coconut tree-lined southern west coast of India.

But I shouldn’t need an excuse. This is a wonderful and aromatic curry, simple to prepare, delicious enough to spur repeat performances and perhaps, to convert the sworn carnivore.

Serve with rice or chapati (wholemeal flatbread) and dhal (lentil curry).

  • Fish, firm-fleshed, cubed
  • Coconut milk, 1/3 cup
  • Onion, 1 medium, chopped
  • Green chilli, 1, quartered
  • Ginger, 1 cm worth, chopped finely
  • Garlic, 1 clove, sliced
  • Chilli powder, 1/2 tbsp
  • Coriander, ground, 1/2 tbsp
  • Turmeric, 1/2 tsp
  • Fennel seeds, 2 pinches
  • Mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves, about ten
  • Stock, vegetable, about 1 cup
  • Tamarind, 1 tsp soaked in 1/4 cup boiling water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Cut the fish (salmon works, or any firm white-fleshed fish such as kingfish, haddock, cod, tilapia) into cubes
  2. In a pan, add about 3 tbsp of canola oil over medium heat
  3. Once the oil has warmed up, add mustard seeds and saute till they begin to pop
  4. Add the onion and curry leaves, ground spices and fennel
  5. On medium heat, stir gently till the spices are cooked. A sign of this is when the oil starts to gently seep through the spice and onion mixture
  6. Add 1/2 cup of the stock and bring the gravy together
  7. Prepare the tamarind by squeezing the pulp, which has been soaking in boiling water for a few minutes; strain and add the thick juice to the pan, using half the amount first, then adjusting the curry to how tart you like it
  8. Add the fish but at this point, do not stir the curry any more, lifting the pan and swirling it around instead (to avoid breaking up the fish) to combine
  9. Once the fish is done, about 5 minutes’ time, add 1/3 cup of coconut milk and some stock to make the curry as thick or thin as you prefer
  10. Taste and season to your own preferences

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November 13, 2008. Tags: , , . Asian, Dinners, Fish, Indian, Mains. 3 comments.

Banana Cake II – With Wholegrain Flour and Extra Fruit

I deliberately buy bananas and let them sit and ripen as an excuse to bake a banana cake. I do this so often the children have acquired a Pavlovian response of demanding a cake when they see the fruit lying around.

This is one of three banana cake recipes we enjoy, being moist, ludicrously easy, relatively healthy and so, so banana-rey. As it bakes it gets a slightly crunchy crust, which my children love topped with their favourite cream cheese icing which I present below.

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter (125g)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (white is fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour, sifted with
  • 1 heaped tsp baking soda and
  • 1 tsp baking powder, plus
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 very ripe, large bananas, mashed with a fork at the last minute
  1. Cream the eggs, butter and sugar together till pale and fluffy
  2. Sift the flour/soda/powder/salt into the butter mixture
  3. Process till well combined, add vanilla
  4. Fold in the mashed bananas
  5. Pour into pre-oiled baking tin
  6. Bake at 175C or 360F for 40 minutes
  7. Ice as desired

Cream cheese icing

In a small processor, add

  • 3 tbsp cream cheese
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 orange’s zest
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • 1/2 stick butter

Blend all the above together till creamy, adding more icing sugar as needed I like to ice the cake while it’s warm for a rustic, carelessly thrown-together look. Sprinkle with coconut shavings if desired.

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November 9, 2008. Tags: . Autumn, Baked Goods, Cakes, Kids Cuisine. Leave a comment.