It was a lazy afternoon and I was getting ready to go out when the mail came from A, inviting me over for a cook-off at Baan Thai, the Thai Restaurant of The Oberoi Grand. “It will be easy – even a novice can do it,” she wrote, “Don’t worry about it”.
I shut my computer while a thousand images wavered and flickered, memories of a balmy summer evenings sipping Strawberry Cider and wishing for our trip to never end. We’d sit and eat bowls of Larb or Som Tam, with salted egg on top, waiting for dusk to envelope us. There’d be a runny, fiery hot curry to eat with hot, mildly sticky rice, the flavors sharp and delightful, and a side of greens to justify the cups of bubble tea afterwards, on our way back to the hotel. I would end up drinking half of my companion’s, who’d give up partway through and nudge me with the cold glass with hopeful eyes. I would consume it of course, fake resignation all over my face.
On the menu that day at Baan Thai was a simple Som Tam and a Thai Green Curry. Now, I LOVE green curry, but I’ve not made it before. So, I watched Thai Chef Klae Somsuay carefully as he went through the motions of preparing a batch, and here’s my brief recipe for those of you who might want to make it at home (I modified the version made by the chef slightly).
Take 300 gm chicken and apply a little bit of salt and fish sauce on the pieces. Set aside. In a pan, heat 2 tablespoon refined oil and add to it 2 tablespoon Green Curry Paste. Cook these two well, with 3-4 Kaffir Lime leaves, torn and a stalk of Lemongrass. Add the chicken and fry well, till the chicken is opaque. Add 2-3 tablespoons of chicken stock, and cook the chicken in it till the water is mostly absorbed. Then, add 2 tablespoon coconut milk, and again, cook for 2-3 minutes more.
At this point, add vegetables. Traditionally, one should use pea aubergines, but, in case you don’t have it, add slices of mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, which all work, like me. This is up to you, but for 300 gm. chicken, add about 60-70 gm. vegetables. Then, add more chicken stock and coconut milk and cook till the vegetables are soft. Adjust seasoning, add a bit of palm sugar (or normal sugar works just fine) and a bit of fish sauce, and check if you need salt. Finally, add a small handful of Thai Sweet Basil, and finish with some chopped red chillies and coconut milk on top. Take out the stalk of lemongrass before serving.
The event itself was a lot of fun where we all were paired off with a partner (Hello POUTPRETTY and thank you for making the Som Tam!), and we waited while members from Royal Thai Consulate-General Kolkata judged our dishes. Following that, we sat down for a rather elaborate Thai Meal (I am sorry but I COMPLETELY FORGOT to take any photos, because at that point I was hungry!!!), and yes, it did taste good because winning a cook-off always does, right?
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to the Thai cook-off by the management of The Oberoi Grand.