Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. We’re a big fan of pumpkin desserts (cookies, and popsicles, anyone?), but we’re not opposed to drinking our pumpkin or putting it on our face! Oh, and if you like the idea of a pumpkin soup, but don’t want the spice of a curry, check out this stew!
I’m trying to figure out how to introduce this pumpkin curry. Here are my options : 1. it’s so easy to make! 2. it’s delicious; everyone, including little Luc and Alex, loved it! 3. on a personal note, cooking curry brings back so many awesome memories from my time visiting Sarah in Thailand. All three introductions are true, and together, they have me wanting to make a pot of this curry every night. You should probably make it too.
In Sarah’s post about Bangkok, she briefly mentioned the cooking class that we took together at Silom Thai Cooking School. It was such a great traveling experience. I love eating Thai food, and I’m happy to experiment with recipes I find online and in cookbooks, but it was reassuring to have experienced teachers show us how to make a handful of dishes and confirm that, as I’ll show you today, making a delicious curry is really that simple.
I now recommend cooking classes to any friend traveling abroad, and if they’re going to Thailand, we point them towards the Silom school, we just loved it that much! Plus, if you can be a student with friends of family, it often makes for great memories. Being lifelong learners, we’re always up for taking a class, and I think it’s extra fun for Sarah and I to take a class together because with a nine year age difference we were never in the same class while growing up. Plus, now we have this shared experience and it often comes up in conversation (it’s almost absurd how many times it comes up!)… we’re planning a big trip with Calder’s family for next year, and he and I already talked about finding a cooking class. We’ll keep you posted!
Our class started with an introduction to the flavors that are common to most Thai cooking, things like lemongrass, curry paste, Thai basil, ginger… all ingredients that you’ll find in this curry. Thai basil is not the same as the sweet basil commonly used in American/Italian cooking. Thai basil has a spicier flavor, more like anise or cloves. It’s very delicious, and while you can make this dish without it, you’ll see that it adds a really nice depth to the finished dish. We also learned a very important tip : everyone in Thailand buys their curry paste! They taught us how to make it from scratch, and even watched as we took turns grinding up the peppers and spices into a curry paste, then our teacher cracked a smile and let us in on that secret. Once you know that even the Thai chefs are buying curry paste, you feel a lot less guilty about doing it yourself and making the rest of this dish is a piece of cake!
As the recipe explains, this dish is prepared in a few simple steps. You’ll start by heating up one ingredient, adding another, then another, and so on, until everything is in the pot and gently simmering. It’s really not that difficult, and it’s such a pleasant experience, because your kitchen will first have the smell of curry, then you’ll add the aroma of cooked onions, that’s followed by the scent of ginger and garlic, and finally you’ll mix in the smells of the vegetables and coconut milk. It’s amazing.
When it comes to choosing vegetables for this curry, the sky’s the limit. Below I’ve listed what I used this time, but every time I make the curry, I base my vegetable selection on a combination of what’s in my fridge and/or what’s fresh in the farmer’s markets. I also like making the curry at home because I can really pack it with veggies, which are often disappointingly low in take-out curry.
The vegetable selection is a great way to get kids involved and to give them some power over the meal. Give them a few options and let them pick the final veggie combo. The day we were making the curry, I ran across purple bell peppers at the market. Since we don’t see those everyday, it was fun to pick one up (of course, it’s a bummer that they turn green while cooking, but even that could be a science lesson).
Ahh, and you may have noticed that I subbed a butternut squash for the pumpkin. That’s just because I had it on hand (never fear, our pumpkin reserves have been restocked!). You can use either.