Having long sat in the shadows of the universally adored Thai green curry, it's time to turn your attentions to the strong silent type – the Thai red curry. It packs more of a punch with its fiery garlic and chilli, more of a kick with its aromatic ginger and lemongrass, and more of a zing with its zesty kaffir lime. Find yourself seduced by Thai Manohra, Aroy Thai, and Thai Thai.
Part of the Thai red curry's allure is in its edgy character. Its green counter-curry is now so mainstream, that unless you order from a top Thai establishment like these ones, you often risk a more all-people-pleasing curry that is softer, creamier, sweeter.
Thai red curry is a cool customer. Sure, you'll get chefs putting their own spin on its vibrant curry paste, but there's a foundation of fire that remain the same. Cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fresh chillies, dried chillies – all the chillies – fat cloves of garlic, lemongrass stalks, coriander roots, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, ginger, and fish sauce. Some add paprika, which not only adds to its red colour, but gives it a sultry smokiness too.
It's really rather helpful for the Thai curries help us non-native curry countries with a colour category. For the uninitiated – this is not just about how pretty it looks.
The green curry is made with the fresh young green chillies, so is significantly hotter – despite any amount of cooling coconut milk that is added). Yellow curry is highly aromatic and super-bright, made with roasted spices and infused with turmeric.
The red curry – you guessed it – is made with big ripe red chillies. It has a more subtle heat, but a spicier savoury taste, and a richer and more robust earthy depth of flavour than the others. Rebel.
At Thai Manohra, you can count this as at least one of your 'five a day', as this red curry is a vegetable-fest – though you can customise it with whichever meat or prawns you like. Red Thai curry – your way.
Thai Thai has a few red curry creations on its menu. We like the Chu Chi Pla – steamed fish fillets in red curry and coconut milk – and the Massaman Thai Kai where chicken strips and diced potatoes are given the red curry treatment.
Aroy Thai has a number of red curry dishes too, and is a great option for vegetarians. The Kaeng Daeng is tofu, mushrooms, asparagus and broccoli, all dressed up in a vibrant red curry sauce. If you're a carnivore through and through, go for the Kaeng Pad, a lightly spicy red curry with duck, pineapples and grapes. Go on – overlook green and give red a try.
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