Red curry paste is great to have on hand. You can quickly whip up a Thai curry or even a Thai curry fried rice using curry paste. Look for curry paste in the Asian aisle of the grocery store. If you are vegetarian or vegan, read the ingredients and make sure you buy one without shrimp or fish sauce.
Thai curry pastes greatly differ in their spice and salt level, depending on the brand. So taste a tiny bit of the paste to understand what you are working with. When you are done making the curry, taste it for salt, sugar and tartness. You can always adjust these flavors by adding soy sauce for salt; sugar; or lime juice for tartness, according to your taste.
Thai basil leaves are the secret ingredient here. They are what makes a curry taste authentic. Look for Thai basil leaves at the Asian market. If you don’t have access to them, substitute with chopped cilantro or mint.
Thai Pumpkin Curry
Serves 4 to 6
- A small sugar pumpkin, weighing about 1 pound
- 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (adjust to taste)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves (substitute with chopped cilantro or mint)
- Using a sharp knife, carefully slice away the skin of the pumpkin. Then, slice it in half, and scoop and scrape the membranes and seeds inside, using a spoon. Chop the pumpkin into cubes and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and let it sizzle for a few seconds. Add the curry paste and sauté on medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add the chopped pumpkin and mix well. If the pumpkin or the curry paste is browning too quickly, turn the heat down.
- Pour in the coconut milk and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring the curry to a boil. Cover with a vented lid and cook until the pumpkin is soft. How long this takes depends on how big you chopped the pumpkin.
- Add the chopped pepper and cook for another minute. Turn off the heat, add Thai basil leaves and mix well. Serve the curry hot with coconut rice, or steamed jasmine or brown rice.
Photo credits: Sala Kannan