Ever since the days of Masterchef, Iron Chef and other cooking challenge shows, making a curry means using an endless list of ‘finest’ ingredients like turmeric, chillies, galangal, candlenut, lemongrass, shallots and so on and so forth. Anything out of a packet is poo-pooed – “oh the shame”! Well, here’s news for all you busy people out there, there is no shame in using packaged curry paste because they can be so GOOD! If you’re in Asia, there’s access to the local markets where the curry paste man puts together the perfect mixture depending on what type of curry you’re making, but even then, many locals in places like Singapore, Malaysia or Thailand use the packaged stuff. If you find a good one, you’ll be guaranteed an awesome curry. (Unless you totally stuff up during the cooking process, which is unlikely).
My favourite go-to curry paste is a brand called Mae Ploy. They come in a variety of curry types (five, if you buy those that come in little tubs) – Green, Panang, Red, Yellow and Massaman. I will always have two in my fridge – usually the green and red. And all you need is coconut milk (or if you prefer something lighter, I’ve used skimmed milk before, but it’d be watered down and not as yummy), vegetables and/or protein of some sort.
Follow the instructions on the back of the tub and create your very own customised curry in 20 minutes – it’s so simple, you can’t go wrong. You do not need to add additional spices (unlike some other packaged stuff). If you like it hot and fiery, you can add more paste than recommended, or if you like your curries meek and mild, just use less paste. Just some seasoning (salt/soy to taste) and you’re all done.
For a green chicken curry, you can use fresh chicken thigh pieces, eggplant, onion and basil leaves. For a red prawn curry, you can use fresh prawns, okra and tomatoes. Or perhaps a yellow chicken curry with chicken and potatoes. The combinations are deliciously endless.
For this particular curry, I used eggplant, chickpeas, onions and cauliflower and I used the red curry paste with full fat coconut milk. Yummo.
I have no recipe – just a few simple steps to follow:
Step 1 – Heat oil in a pot, add curry paste and stir fry for a minute or until fragrant. You don’t have to use oil if you don’t want to, the instructions usually say to cook the curry paste in some coconut milk, but I like to fry in oil to bring out the aromas and flavours.
Step 2 – Add protein/vegetables. Stir to coat everything in the paste.
Step 3 – Add coconut milk. Stir and let it simmer and cook.
Step 4 – If you prefer a more liquidy consistency, you can add water (I normally don’t). Season to taste.
Step 5 – Serve and stuff your face with CURRY!!!
Done and done. And no, I have not been commissioned by Mae Ploy. I have been using this curry paste for years and have made countless curries so I thought I’d just share this cheat’s guide to whipping up an easy curry. Enjoy!