Southeast Asia’s Contribution to the Humble Curry!

Thai Green Curry
What do we know about curry? Ask any foreigner of Western origin this question and the standard answer will be along the lines of: “It’s from India and it’s really spicy.” While the cuisine of Southeast Asia does lend a degree of inspiration from India, their adaptation of this globally popular dish is breath-taking and utterly mouth-watering. With coconut palms adorning just about every beach front and garden from north to south, the creamy juice of coconuts have become a great part of curry preparation here. When arriving for the first time in Thailand, the incredible selection of delicious curries can very much be the portal through which the unaccustomed palate can travel to the enjoyment of the rest of Thai cuisine! So, what exactly does this mean?

To be fair, while the menu of Southeast Asia is perhaps the most interesting, complex, fresh and colorful cuisine in the world, many people from abroad struggle with the unique and often pungent flavors typical of this food. The widespread use of fermented fish sauce in many of the Thai dishes is one thing; the side-effects of consuming copious amounts of chili is another! Yet, the range of curries – usually made from coconut milk or cream, fresh vegetables and a meat (generally chicken, seafood or pork) - are so universally delicious that foreigners are at least given a few days to acclimatize to the rest of the cuisine before starving or worse; falling back on McDonalds!

Thai Massaman Curry
The most popular curries in Thailand – popular to foreigners that is – are green, red and yellow curry. The first, Thai green curry is a classic and extremely popular addition to the menus in both local Thai restaurants and those abroad. Then of course there’s Penang curry, Massaman curry, Thai shrimp coconut curry, Jungle curry (northern), Northern Pork curry, Thai fish curry… and the list goes on and on! As a result of the complex spicy flavors, creamy coconut backdrop, wholesome crunch of fresh vegetables and savory finish of your choice in meat, the contribution of Southeast Asia to the humble curry deserves an Oscar for culinary performance.

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