This curry does things a little differently.
Curry is one of my very favorite things to order when I eat at an Indian or Pan-Asian restaurant. While curries all have something in common, they can be quite different depending on which area of cuisine you’re talking about. Unlike an Indian curry, this Thai jungle curry has no coconut milk in it. The result is a rich sauce that allows the spices to shine through even more than in other recipes.
This curry is said to be called “jungle” curry since the traditional version contains a wide variety of plants, like it has a whole jungle in each pot. Here in the US some of the traditional jungle curry ingredients can be hard to come by. But, thankfully the curry blends we have at the grocery have some of these exotic spices already in the mix.
The 2 spice blends that are crucial for this recipe are garam masala and red curry paste. By adding both of these mixes to the pot you end up getting lime leaf, galangal, and krachai (also called finger root) in the curry, ingredients you many have trouble sourcing individually. But, just to make certain to enhance these flavors we’re also adding some lime zest and ginger to the pot, as well as some turmeric and curry powder.
One of the things that gives this curry its signature flavor is the addition of fish sauce and/or shrimp paste. Unless you go really heavy handed with these ingredients, you won’t actually taste any seafood flavor in the finished product. Instead the fish sauce here lends a deep, tangy, umami flavor to your curries.
For this curry I used chicken breast, but you can use beef, shrimp, pork, or a combination of meats. Or leave them out entirely. The same goes for the veggies. It’s usual to have bamboo shoots in the mix, but you can add or subtract whichever veggies you want. As long as there are a few different ones in the dish it will turn out wonderfully.
After years of having mainly Indian curries I have grown to really enjoy the depth of this Thai jungle curry. The spice level isn’t hot, but it’s got a very rounded flavor with a deep foundation. It’s the kind of meal that will have you looking forward to each bite!
Thai Jungle Curry
20m prep time
16m cook time
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 lb chicken breast, cubed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 oz Thai red curry paste
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger or ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 3/4 teaspoon garam masala
- pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 8 oz sliced mushrooms
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- zest of one lime
- 1 (8 oz) can bamboo shoots, drained
- 1 (10 oz) can baby corn, drained
- 1/2 cup sliced carrot
- 2 stems cilantro (stem and leaves chopped)
- 15 basil leaves
- White rice for serving
- Heat oil in large wok or stockpot to medium. Add chicken and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until no longer pink outside, about 6 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high.
- Add water, curry paste, ginger, turmeric, curry powder, garam masala, chili flakes mushrooms, garlic, and green pepper. Allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes.
- Add fish sauce, sugar, and lime zest. Stir well. Add bamboo, baby corn, carrot, and chopped cilantro stems. Allow to cook for 5-7 more minutes or until vegetables have cooked and chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165˚F.
- Add basil and cover. Allow to simmer for 1 minute. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve piping hot with rice.
Recipe adapted from Rasa Malaysia.