Monday, June 1, 2009

Yellow, Red or Green?

Every day someone calls to ask the difference between our curries and why so many colors.

Did you know that curry powder was invented by the British? It's true! When they would return to England after living in India, they wanted to be able to enjoy curry so they figured out how to make it into a powder. Also known as masala powder, it is usually yellow due to the presence of so much turmeric.

In Thai cuisine we do in fact use turmeric in our yellow curry [แกงกะหรี่]. Green curry [แกงเขียวหวาน] gets its color from the green chili pepper paste we use, and red curry [แกงเผ็ด] gets its color from red chili pepper paste.

OK, so why don't we call Masaman curry Orange curry? That is because Masaman curry is borrowed from the Muslims, and it gets its orange color from cinnamon and tamarind which you don't notice so much because the potatoes and peanuts help give Masaman curry its mellow taste. Panang curry is also of Muslim origin, and its name comes from Penang, Malaysia.

True Thai's curries are as authentic as we can possibly make them. Lime leaves are essential, and all the best Thai restaurant curries have these small leaves. They are there for flavor but they are very hard so don't try to eat them! It only takes a few to make a big difference in the flavor of your curry and that is a good thing because they cost about $45 a pound wholesale.

Wikipedia has lots of good information about Thai curries if you want to learn more. Or you can just stop in for your curry "fix," dining in, taking out or buying our curry stock to fix at home.

Sorry, but no Anna stories today. I did not work in the curry mines as a child, or go into the jungle to harvest lime leaves. I did however do forced labor mashing chilis with a pestle for hours on end in my mother's kitchen. Mash, mash, mash. I think a curry mine would have been easier.

Did I mention that I posted a new picture to Flickr?