I love coconut curries, love to eat them and love to cook them. One of my favorite curries is a rich, creamy, hot and sour tamarind and coconut green curry.
I first discovered the incredible taste of coconut and tamarind while watching the late keith floyd cooking curry, I don’t really remember what he made only that the final result looked black and yummy. Few days later i already did my first version of tamarind coconut green curry.
Since than i did numerous versions an combinations, tried with prawns, chicken breasts, chicken thighs, beef and pork. I tried using chili oil, dried chili peppers, fresh chili peppers or just curry paste. With vegetables and without, with nuts and without, green curry and red curry – you get the idea.
My current version of tamarind coconut curry uses green curry paste, beef slices (i uses rump or skirt), eggplants, basil and hazelnuts and of course coconut cream and tamarind. Even though its quick simple curry to make there are few things you need to know to make it a perfect curry.
Let’s talk first about the main ingredient tamarind, it’s sour taste and black color gives the curry a unique taste and color. I know of 2 main types of tamarind you can get, the first arrives in blocks of pressed tamarind pulp and the second as an extract or concentrate of the tamarind fruit. I usually use the extract as it quicker to use and i like the more sour taste it provides. If you prefer the paste or want less sour version, that’s great as well just marinade the pulp paste in warm water and press through a sieve.
As important as the tamarind is the coconut milk. Choosing the right kind is important to the final taste and texture of the curry. You want coconut cream with the largest percent of fat you can find. The more fat you use the better it will look and taste. No matter what, don’t ever use coconut “water” or low fat coconut. The end result will be watery and will lack the depth of flavor we are looking for.
Last but not least is the curry paste. Using the green curry paste will add fresh spicy taste to our curry. You can make your own green curry paste its really easy and worth the time but you can also use a ready made paste of good quality. You want the paste to be hot enough to compliment the tamarind sourness. If you use the tamarind concentrate which have a strong taste you can also go wild with the green curry paste and make it super hot. If you use a milder version of tamarind try to keep the curry spicy but no more than that.
- Beef cut into thin slices (against the grains)
- Coconut cream (with lots of fat inside)
- Tamarind concentrate/paste
- Green curry paste
- Spring onions (white part only)
- 1 big eggplant
- Fresh basil stems and leaves
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- Peanut oil for frying
As with any asian cooking, try to prepare everything in advance it will help you won’t forget anything while cooking.
Start with steaming the eggplants, cut the them to large cubes and place in a steamer over high heat until the eggplants are little soft but still keep their shape. Prefer the black eggplants over the japanese eggplants as they have more texture but the japanese will do fine if that’s what you got.
Finally chop the garlic, ginger and the white part of the spring onions. Make sure the coconut cream, tamarind and curry paste ready. Clean the basil and remove black leaves.
Place a wok on medium heat and add the peanut oil, add the garlic, ginger and green onion and fry them until fragrant. Add the hazelnuts and stir-fry them for 10-15 seconds.
Pour 1 spon of the coconut cream into the walk and let it sizzle for few seconds – you want some of the liquid to vaporize and leave the coconut oil. Add the green curry to the wok and stir it well until its dissolved. Add the tamarind and stir to combine.
You can now add the beef and cover it well with the curry, add the remaining coconut cream and stir well until the curry gets a solid brown/black color.
Once the curry starts to sizzle add the eggplants and the fresh basil.
Let the curry stand, uncovered on low-medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Taste and add salt if needed (it rarely does).
Serve with steamed white rice and fresh cucumber slices to ease the heat.