Red Curry Vegetables

Gangkuwa Phak

4 tablespoons oil (safflower or sunflower)
2 to 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red curry paste
16 fluid ounces coconut milk
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 to 4 small thai chilies, finely sliced lengthwise
2 japanese eggplants, cut in 1/2 inch diagonal slices
2 cups assorted fresh vegetables (snow peas,mushrooms, bell pepper)
4 kaffir lime leaves, de-veined and finely sliced
15 + leaves basil

Heat the oil in a wok, add the chopped garlic and fry until golden brown. Add the curry paste, stir with the garlic and cook for a little over a minute. Stirring briskly after each addition, add half the coconut milk, all the sugar and the soy sauce. As the curry thickens add the eggplant and remaining vegetables, followed by the rest of the coconut milk. When the eggplant is almost tender, add the lime leaves and chili and cook for another couple of minutes. (If your wok is hot enough the vegetables should cook very quickly). Garnish with the basil leaves and serve with or over steamed Jasmine or Sweet Thai Rice. (Experimenting with different types of basil gives this dish subtle aromatic and flavor variations).

Makes four servings.

*Red curry Paste (Gaeng Pet)

8 dried long red chilies, de-seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
4 tablespoons chopped garlic (about eight small cloves)
2 stalks lemon grass, finely chopped
3 coriander roots, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped kaffir lime skin
1 inch galangal  finely chopped
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt

Note: Coriander with the root still attached can be hard to locate if you don't grow your own. Organic produce markets or farmers markets are often a good bet when fresh herbs are available. Add a little more coriander seed if the root cannot be found.

Kaffir limes are different from the "standard" variety. Their skin is very "knobbly". If you can 't find the kaffir lime use kaffir lime leaves, which are available at Thai and some other asian markets. Blend all of the above using a mortar and pestle or an electric grinder. (You'll need a very large mortar to do this efficiently). The result should be a smooth paste, which can be frozen for future use.

Makes about 4 tablespoons paste.

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