This yellow curry recipe is a basic model for making easy curry at home. We will use yellow curry paste today but the main ingredients can easily be modified for personal preference. Decide what works for you and experiment by swapping out the curry paste too! Too fun and too easy.
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What’s the deal with yellow curry?
Yellow curry, whether Indian or Thai, is mostly a western invention. The remnants of British colonialism can still be felt today, in our culinary universe.
Westerners in India started referring to just about any dish with a gravy served over rice as a curry. Basically a curry is an Indian dish that has been modified to British tastes.
The same can be said for Thai Yellow Curry. Outside of Thailand, yellow curry, known as Kaeng Kari, has some of the classic Indian spices such as cumin and coriander mixed with the typical herbs in Thai curry pastes such as shallots, lemon grass and ginger. It is basically Thai curry paste toned down and mixed with Indian curry powder. The British Navy is unofficially credited with the spread of this type of curry.
There are yellow Thai curries inside of Thailand. Both Massaman and Kreung Som are traditional dishes inside Thailand. Massaman is milder than the strong sour notes of the latter. Usually, spicy dishes are toned down by using less hot chilies for western tastes.
Can I make My Own Curry Paste?
I have made Thai green curry paste out of necessity, and for fun. My husband and I LOVE Thai Green Curry. It is commercially too hot for his tastes so I made my own and used less chilies. Because it is more involved in sourcing ingredients, I usually make a big batch and freeze several small batches.
To be clear, I frequently use canned curry paste. I find it to be my little friend in the kitchen. The friend that says, ‘Tina, you deserve a break. Just put some canned curry paste in a pot with a few ingredients and simmer until dinner time’. Yes, canned curry paste is my friend.
What Should I Know Before Buying Curry Paste?
When I buy ready-made curry paste, even though I like to try new things, I typically keep to a few commercially common brands and types. I am familiar with their heat levels so I can adapt as necessary.
Once in awhile, if I’m feeling frisky, I will try a new variety or brand. In those circumstances, I don’t use the total amount indicated in the instructions on the can to start with. I hold some back, just in case. I also make sure I have an extra can of coconut milk in case I need to water it down, without actually watering it down.
Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RED, YELLOW AND GREEN CURRY? –
- RED CURRY – This Thai-style curry gets its color from the red chilies used to make the curry paste. Other ingredients include garlic, shallots, galangal, shrimp paste, kaffir lime leaves, coriander root, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and lemongrass and sometimes tomato paste. Since the numerous red chilies give this the classic red color, this dish is typically spicy hot. If you choose to make your own red curry paste, simply substitute some of the chilies for tomato paste in order to tone down the heat and preserve that red color. Tomato paste will also add umami and another layer of flavor to your red curry.
- YELLOW CURRY – Yellow curry is milder in heat than the other curries. It is a combination of classic fresh plant-based flavors such as lemongrass, ginger, garlic, galangal mixed with Indian curry powder. This is the curry that was modified to British tastes. There are Thai yellow curries such as Massaman and Kreung Som that are yellow in color yet very different in taste. The former a result of Muslim influence and the latter, a Southern Thailand classic sour curry.
- GREEN CURRY – Green curry gets its color from the predominantly fresh, green ingredients used to make the paste. These green ingredients include Makrut lime leaves, cilantro, green chilies, scallions and Thai basil. This is combined with salt, ginger, galangal, garlic and lemongrass. This curry traditionally is considered very spicy by most westerners. As with all curry pastes, you can make your own and tailor the heat to your preference.
WHAT DOES YELLOW CURRY TASTE LIKE? – Yellow curry has many layers of flavor that include savory, sweet and aromatic. It is one of the mildest curries and is very popular in the West.
About This Recipe
Dave and I love lamb and pineapple together in a curry. It is such a tasty pairing. It’s usually in an Indian curry since lamb is more common in that part of Asia. This time we paired lamb and pineapple with a Thai curry paste. I know this may raise some foodie eyebrows, that’s fine. Just leave a comment. It’ll be OK.
I was away on a medical mission for three months. When I came back, I discovered my hubby made a new-to-me dish. He described it and hence, this recipe. While unconventional, even for a western-derived curry, it works, and was delicious. That is why I am sharing it today. Enjoy!
How To Make This Recipe
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The Atlantic – The Word Curry Came From a Colonial Misunderstanding
The Spruce Eats – The Differences Between Typical Thai Curries