Probably not as known as some of the more famous coconut based curries, jungle curry still deserves a spot in the Thai hall of fame of curries. Jungle curry ‘Gaeng Pa’ แกงป่า is a simple hunter gatherers curry that relies on the finds made in the rural areas and especially forests of Thailand.

Vegetables like eggplant, bamboo shoots and yardlong beans are commonly used. Wild forest mushrooms also perfectly complement this curry. A large quantity of chilies, wild ginger, makrut leaves and holy basil give this curry its hot and distinct herbaceous and almost medicinal flavors. Thais would often prepare it with pork, wild boar, frogs, fish or poultry as the main source of protein and umami flavors. In my plant based version those are obviously omitted while mushrooms and fermented organic soy bean paste are added for depth of flavor.

Unlike many of the more famous Thai curries, this curry is prepared with no coconut milk rather with water or stock. It should be soupy and taste salty and quite spicy, especially in the absence of coconut milk to tone the heat down. An absolute favorite!

Ingredients

Center wok:

Curry paste:

Method

1.Wash, slice and pound the paste ingredients in a mortar and pestle, adding them one by one. Keep pounding until the herbs turn into a fine creamy paste and smell homogeneous.

2.Add a little bit of oil to a pot. Fry the curry paste and the fermented bean paste on medium heat for about a minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Taste and add salt to adjust to your liking.

3.Add the torn makrut lime leaves, grachai slices and the fresh chili if you want it even more spicy. Add the vegetables according to their cooking time. Start with the eggplants and bamboo shoots, then yardlong beans. Add the wood ear mushrooms towards the end of the cooking and lastly add the holy basil and stir it in for a few seconds before turning off the heat. Serve with white rice.

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