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I love massaman, green curry, red curry, yellow curry, etc.

Can any of these be made quickly at home with only 4-5 ingredients?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think @roux is generally right, curries are like mexican moles, they have lots of spices and are fairly complex. But I do think there are some short-cuts.

The most important components in a curry are sweetness, creaminess, heat, citrus, salt, and depth. I don't know if by simple you also mean you want to use common ingredients, or just 'few' ingredients. This is what I would use if I only had common ingredients:

Coconut milk, cayenne pepper, onion/garlic/ginger, lemon/lime juice, salt/pepper, sugar/honey. I'd also add basil/cilantro/jalapeno for green, tumeric/cumin for yellow, ketchup/tomato paste/chili powder for red.

If you have them, the traditional ingredients you're trying to replicate are lemongrass, lime-leaf, red or green chiles, and fish sauce (or soy sauce).

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Yes, you will need to buy a pre-made curry paste if you want to get anywhere near 5 ingredients. Mae Ploy is a reputable brand.

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To directly answer your question: no, you can't. However, you could prepare a curry paste at home and then refrigerate it. In my experience, they can last for a month without issue.

This recipe is good for 2-3 woks worth of curry noodles, you can also add coconut milk on the wok towards the end.

  • 1-2 fresh chillies, deseeded
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 0.5 tsp turmeric
  • 0.5 tsp ground cardamom
  • 0.25 tsp ground cloves
  • 0.25 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

Put everything in a food processor and blitz. There's your curry paste. Extra points for adding a handfull of fresh coriander leaves, or the flesh of a mango to the mix.

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It sure is possible to make a Thai curry with 5 ingredients. All of the coconut based curries have the same basic ingredients. Jungle curry contains stock instead of coconut cream and has a few more ingredients such as green peppercorns.

The 5 basic ingredients to an authentic Thai curry are:

  • Curry paste: Most authentic (not westernised) brand is Maesri. Other brands lack the flavour punch that defines Thai curries.
  • Coconut cream: Buy the one with the highest percentage of coconut solids. Milk is ok if that's the only one available but make sure you get the highest percentage.
  • Palm sugar: Buy it online if you can't get it locally. Do not substitute normal sugar
  • Fish sauce: Squid brand is the best in my opinion
  • Meat and vegetables: Use sweet vegetables for red curry and bitter vegetables for green curry

See my universal curry method (adapted from David Thompson's) for more information.

FYI: Most Thai people don't make the paste from scratch because it is readily available at the markets here in Thailand.

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No. Proper curries have far, far more than five ingredients. It is possible to make something sort of kind of similar in the sense that some shrimp and fish served in a broth is like a bouillabaisse, but really it will not be the same. If you really want to go that route, go to a decent supermarket that focuses on Asian foods and buy something pre-made.

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