This unique ‘kua’ style curry utilises the whole makrut (kaffir lime) fruit, giving a brightly flavoured coconut cream curry that feels lighter and fresher in comparison to more commonly known Thai curries. The final seasoning is tart, sweet and salty, which makes for an interesting eating experience.
Curry paste (for those wanting to make their own paste from scratch)
6 dried long red chilli (deseeded and soaked in cold water until soft)
2 tbsp lemongrass (peeled and thinly sliced)
1 tbsp galangal (peeled and thinly sliced)
2 tbsp shallot (peeled and thinly sliced)
2 tbsp garlic (peeled and thinly sliced)
1 tsp coriander root or stem
1 tsp kaffir lime zest (use lime zest if kaffir lime is unavailable)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp coriander seed (briefly toasted and ground into fine powder)
1 tsp shrimp paste (omit if vegan/vegetarian)
Pound all ingredients in a granite mortar and pestle until very smooth, from the top of the ingredients list to the bottom. Alternatively use a food processor, adding a little water if necessary to blend everything smooth.
Tip: Cut everything small and start with the hardest ingredients working up to the softest (or ones with most water content) to ensure a nice smooth paste.
Gaeng tay po (serves 2)
2 tbsp curry paste (shop bought red curry paste is fine to use here)
1 tbsp coconut oil
100ml coconut cream (thickest cream from a can or carton)
2 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce (substitute for light soy sauce if vegan/vegetarian)
1 tbsp tamarind concentrate
250ml coconut milk
50g firm tofu (diced into bite size pieces)
2 fresh long chillies (sliced diagonally to remove most seeds)
100g mixed seasonal greens
4 whole kaffir lime leaves (fresh or frozen)
1 kaffir lime (halved) – these can be found in the fresh and frozen isles of Asian supermarkets. If unavailable use bengali lime or regular lime (if using regular lime just use one half)
2 kaffir lime leaves (fresh or frozen – finely shred, for garnish)
- Combine the thick coconut cream and coconut oil in a heavy based pan. Warm over medium heat until the oil forms a sheen on the surface of the cream, about 1 minute.
- Add curry paste and cook until fully incorporated with the cream, continue to fry until the paste becomes fragrant and darkens – this indicates the rawness from the curry paste has been cooked out, about 4 minutes.
- Add the palm sugar and fish sauce (or light soy) and allow to cook into the paste. Then add the remaining coconut milk and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for a further 4 minutes until the sauce develops a slight oily sheen on the surface and smells aromatic.
- Add the diced tofu, sliced chillies, seasonal greens, whole kaffir lime leaves and halved kaffir lime. Cook for 2 minutes until vegetables are tender but retain a slight bite. The kaffir lime citrus flavour should infuse into the curry sauce and give a pleasant tart and citrus aromatic quality – don’t squeeze the juice of the lime into the sauce, you are looking to subtly infuse the flavour of the zest into the sauce, adding the juice will turn the sauce bitter.
- Remove from the heat and allow to sit for a minute so the flavours can develop together. Taste again and add tamarind concentrate to give a final seasoning of tart and sweet with saltiness in the background. Adjust the seasoning using palm sugar, fish/soy sauce and tamarind as you deem appropriate.
- Serve garnished with a splash of coconut cream and finely shred kaffir lime leaves. Eat with steamed jasmine rice.