Thai Yellow Curry ~ revisited with winter squash

The last time I made a Thai Yellow Curry was back in September when we still had the taste of summer – courgettes, french beans, summer squash and cucumbers, all grown on the allotment.  It’s time I revisited this curry, but winter style.


I’m fond of yellow curries and cucumber dipping sauce, the two work supremely well together; with the rich spicy creamy coconut curry mixed with a dash of rice wine vinegar based dressing and the crunch of fresh cucumber. Sounds unusual? Maybe, but it does work.

I realise the cucumbers are fantastically out of season for me, but I’m currently in the Alps and I think if I didn’t eat at least some fresh, unseasonal food I’d go stir crazy, or at least end up a mile wide based solely on an Alpine diet of potatoes, cheese, cream and lardons! Grand Frais had some small cucumber in stock last week, and I snaffled a couple, with this recipe in mind. That and some long walks will hopefully keep the pounds at bay.

So onto the recipe, a bit more research and this time I’m trying Rick Stein’s version, which in turn is based on David Thompson’s. David Thompson is a Thai food expert, and if you haven’t had a look at his books I strongly recommend you remedy that; the book is packed with detail on the origins of the food he cooks, the areas, the ingredients. It is encyclopedia-like in its depth. And I’m sure you wouldn’t be disappointed with the recipes.

The time needed to make this fresh and firey curry is in the preparation of the curry paste, after that it’s a matter of chopping a few veg, stirring the pot every now and then, and putting some rice on to cook. And as with any curry paste I make, the spares go into a tub in the freezer for another day. The recipe here will make enough for 2 batches.

For a pure vegetarian version omit the shrimp paste and fish sauce.

Rick Stein’s and David Thompson’s Thai Yellow Curry – with my homegrown pumpkin

Thai Yellow Curry Paste ~

  • 3 dried red chillies, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and then roghly chopped
  • 1 red chilli
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3 stalks of lemon grass, with the ends trimmed, and chopped into chunks
  • 1 large piece of galangal (or ginger), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion peeled and roughly chopped (or 4 shallots)
  • 1 to 2 tsp of shrimp paste
  • 1 tsp of Turmeric

Method ~

  • Soak the dried chillies in hot water for 30 minutes
  • Meanwhile chop the ingredients for the paste mixture
  • In a food processor or pestle and mortar put all the ingredients for the paste including the re-hydrated chillies, but not the turmeric.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the chilli water and mix the ingredients into a fine smooth paste. you may need to add a bit more water to help with this. It will take a few minutes in a food processor to get the paste into a smooth consistency.
  • When mixed, stir in the turmeric.

The Curry Contents ~

  • 200g of winter squash peeled and chopped into 1″ chunks
  • 1/2 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped into 1 ” chunks
  • A large handful of green beans  topped and tailed and sliced in half
  • 3 or 4 spring onions, topped and tailed and sliced lengthways into halves or quarters
  • Fried tofu or prawns – this is optional but I like to add some protein into my meals
  • 1 can of Coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp of tamarind paste or a tablespoon of white / rice vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbls of fish sauce
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped

Method ~

  • Take 2 tablespoons of the curry paste and add them into a pan, cook on a low heat for a few minutes.
  • Add the coconut milk, and mix it into the paste well.
  • Add the squash cubes, stir and cook on a low heat for approx 15 to 20 minutes until they are starting to become tender
  • If at any stage the sauce is too thick add a little cold water, to thin it.
  • When the squash is nearly cooked add the peppers and green beans, cook for another 5 minutes
  • Now add the tofu or prawns,  and continue to cook on a low heat for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until the prawns are warmed through
  • Now add a tablespoon of fish sauce, the juice of half a lime and 1/2 teaspoon of tamarind paste and mix into the curry
  • Add the spring onions and cook for another couple of minutes
  • When ready to serve, sprinkle a chopped green chilli on top along with the juice of half a lime

Serve with plain rice and the dipping sauce spooned over the curry.

Cucumber Dipping Sauce

Ingredients ~

  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, halved lengthways and thinly sliced
  • 3 tbls rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbls of sugar

Method ~

  • Put the rice wine vinegar and sugar in a small pan on a low heat. Gently warm it through until all the sugar is dissolved
  • Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool
  • In a small serving bowl add the liquid and the cucumber


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