Getting started

Red, green or yellow? These three basic colours immediately remind us of a traffic signal. However, in this case, they are three varieties of Thai curry that are the most popular and also the yummiest. Thai curries are usually prepared with the base made of a paste of your choice -red, green or yellow - coconut milk and meat and vegetables of your choice.

Both red and green curry tend to be the most popular options, and are prepared with a base of chilies, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, garlic and other aromatic spices and herbs. The main difference between both curries is the level of spiciness. Red curries tend to be milder compared to their green counterpart due to the big red chilies put in it; whereas the green curry is made from tender green chilies that are spicier.

Green curries have a tinge of sweetness while the red lean towards the savoury side. Yellow curry is known for its distinct colour and its concoction of aromatic spices such as turmeric, cloves and nutmeg. It is usually on the milder side. It's the ideal curry for novices who are discovering Thai cuisine and cannot handle the heat. Curries are quite easy to make as long as you have the perfect paste which serves as your base. You can prepare your paste at home by grinding a few ingredients together or you can buy the readymade paste from the supermarket; it is equally good and saves time.

Once you have the paste, all you need to do is throw in some coconut milk, any meat of your choice, be it beef, fish, chicken or prawn and add some veggies. For vegetarians, you can make your own curry adding tofu to the vegetables and it turns out be just as delicious. Make sure you have big bowls of aromatic Thai jasmine rice to accompany the curry. Try creating your own curry at home with the easy recipes given below.

The writer is a freelancer based in Dubai n 400 grams chicken (a little less then 1lb.) n 3 tbsp green curry paste (see green curry paste recipe above or use prepared curry paste) n 2 1/2 cups coconut milk n 5 small fresh Thai eggplants, quartered n 10 mushrooms, halves n 2-3 fresh red spur chilies, sliced diagonally n 2 kaffir lime leaves, torn n 1/4 cup sweet basil leaf (optional) n 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce n 1 1/2 tsp palm sugar n 1 tbsp cooking oil (not olive oil, but corn, safflower or peanut oil) Sweet basil leaves and red chili slices for garnish n STEP 1: Slice the chicken into thin pieces, about 3 cm thick. n STEP 2: Sauté the green curry paste in oil over medium heat until fragrant; reduce the heat, gradually add 1 1/2 cups of the coconut milk a little at a time; stir until a film of green oil surfaces. n STEP 3: Add the beef and kaffir lime leaves; continue cooking for 3 minutes until fragrant and the chicken is cooked through.

Transfer to a pot, place over medium heat and cook until boiling. Add the remaining coconut milk, season with palm sugar and fish sauce. When the mixture returns to the boil add the eggplants and mushrooms. Cook until the veggies are done; sprinkle sweet basil leaves and red chilies, then turn off the heat. n STEP 4: Arrange on a serving dish and garnish with sweet basil leaves and red chilies before serving. Source: