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Thai Chicken Indian Curry Ghang-Garee-Ghai

A Thai recipe that calls for the use of Indian curry -The result? A flavorful, rich, spicy and aromatic dish that is very much celebrated throughout Thailand. This is how I make it in my small kitchen in America.

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Thai Chicken Indian Curry Ghang-Garee-Ghai


I was raised in Bangkok, in a large compound where I lived with my parents in one of the houses. Next to our house was my mother's elder brother's house, and in the main house resided my grandparents, to whom I was very close. Most of my wonderful childhood
memories came from the times that I spent with my maternal grandparents.

Before I was old enough to attend school, while my parents went off to work and left me in the care of our nannies -under my grandparents' supervision- I would spend the day playing in our yard that, through my young eyes, was like a beautiful forest because of the many colorful and fragrant Thai flowers that I loved -and yearn for now that I am a lot older- and all the tall fruit trees. Not only did they provide the most delicious fruits all year round, but also cool shade from the blazing Bangkok sun. My grandfather planted many fruit trees, and in all seasons we enjoyed delicious mamuong -mangoes- of different breeds, shompoo or rose apples, noina, grataun, and farang or guava. For those that seem mysterious to you, I will do my best to come up with descriptions. But, if you have visited Thailand, chances are you have tasted some of these fruits. They are just divine. I remember other fruits from our trees, too; seedless papaya, and different breeds of bananas. Those trees weren't for climbing, so they didn't get any attention from me back then. While my grandfather planted them, my grandmother would make sure that they would be given proper care. I'd like to think that I played a big part in it all since I would put on a pretty hat of my choice (I liked to get dressed up), grab a tiny gardening bench (where one squats more than sits -its purpose is for a person not to sit on the soil) and pull out weeds -along with other interesting objects and life-forms-from around the fruit trees.

Another of the favorite activities that my grandparents and I enjoyed together were our excursions that took place a few times a week. We'd take the city bus -they were differentiated by colors as their bus routes, and I could say that despite the "family" connection with the "white bus line," we were regular patrons of the "red line." Bangkok roads were not crowded and, as if I were a puppy, I loved sticking my head outside the bus' large window with my mouth dropped open while taking in the cool fresh air. Singing was also my "bus thing," as I would sing from the moment we sat down till the moment we reached our destination. Starting with "The wheels on the bus" all the way to popular tunes I heard grown-ups sing on the radio. I had no idea if I bothered other passengers, but I remember clearly the smiles on their faces and how happy they made me!

We'd take the bus to visit the grand palace, the Emerald Buddha Temple, took boat rides on The Grand Chaopraya River -sometimes all the way to Pakgred, Nontaburee -where all the Mons lived- or, went to Bangpa-in Palace or the old city of Ayuthaya, etc.

But a couple of my favorite places were right in the center of old Bangkok. Wang Boorapa was book heaven for readers of all ages - and I admit that books fascinated me and I became a bookworm early on in life. My grandparents would buy me books, many books, and I would feel very content and fulfilled.

Another place that we often visited in the old part of Bangkok, just across the Pra Puttayodpha Bridge or "Sapan Put", was Pahurudd or Little India.

Occasionally, my grandmother would need to go buy fabrics, and Pahurudd was the place where hundreds of fabric stores were situated. One could think of Pahurudd as the fashion district up until the Japanese department store "Thai Daimaru" came to Bangkok. All Pahurudd fabric stores were owned and run by Indian businessmen -who are now in their third generation and have become millionaires living in penthouses on Sukhumvit Road.

I loved looking at colorful fabrics, some more fancy than others and with gold and silver threads. My grandmother would pick and choose her fabrics, and my grandfather would carry a few thick paper bags in each hand without any complaint.

The best part came afterwards when we went to an indoor/outdoor cafe to have lunch and regain our strength to ride the bus back home (so I could sing some more). Every eating place in Pahurudd served Indian food, naturally. In fact, as soon as I got off the bus I would smell the yellow curry, and that wonderful aroma was in the air everywhere I walked. It really didn't matter where we chose to eat, all served excellent food. We Thais like to share several dishes as a part of our culture - it's great for bonding, if that's what one's after. My grandparents would order beef satay, oxtail soup, sometimes chicken curried rice, and other times chicken curry -ghanggareeghai.

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All these dishes would be accompanied with tangy cucumber salad and cut-up thick slices of toast from a charcoal grill. The beverages, on the other hand, were Chinese-oriented and not-so Indian, as my grandfather would order for himself a glass of iced cold black coffee filled with crushed ice to the rim -olieng, while my grandmother's would be "olieng yoklaw" or iced coffee with condensed milk sitting at the bottom of the glass, and I would enjoy a glass of iced tea or "shadummyen".

After we finished our meal, as we walked to the bus stop my grandfather would halt an Indian vendor who carried around a wooden table over his head. I was always intrigued by the wooden table. It looked very heavy and had several divided sections on its surface, each for a different kind of delicious roasted nuts. My grandfather would buy several bags for everyone at home. The vendor would ask if we wanted "spicy salt" on our nuts. He'd say yes to all but one bag- that was just for me. I vaguely remember that spicy salt was the mixture of larger grains of salt, chives, some spices that back then I couldn't identify, but my guess now is that they were nutmeg and/or coriander seeds, with a little bit of chopped chili pepper. I don't think that we could find anyone who makes this spicy salt anymore, let alone an Indian table-carrying nut vendor.

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I don't remember that my grandfather would make ghanggareeghai in his kitchen. His cuisine tended to lean toward Thai curry and seafood dishes of the south. But I often tasted delightful "Indian type" dishes in my own mother's cooking. Satay, ghangmussamunn, and ghanggaree often show up at our dining table. She made them because they are -still- my father's favorite kind of food. Seeing her use Indian curry in her food was contradictory to my belief early on that my mother hated the smell of yellow curry. She once came back from a business conference in Kuala Lumpur with a beautiful French-made baby doll that she had purchased while she was there. She opened the suitcase and there it was, looking so pretty among her clothes, but at the same time we all were hit by a very strong curry smell coming out from the doll -the beautiful farang-looking doll with blue glass eyes and curly blond hair. My mother made some loud-high pitch noise. I never even had a chance to play with the doll, and had no idea what happened to it. But, I did get another farang doll from a store in Bangkok -without the smell of yellow curry. She then crunched up her nose every time she came close to yellow curry. In conclusion, it must be the love for my father that causes her to use an ingredient which has the smell that she hates. She told me later that yellow curry belongs only in food, and only in moderate amounts.

Ghanggareeghai -Thai Chicken in Indian Curry

A Thai recipe that calls for the use of Indian curry -The result? A flavorful, rich, spicy and aromatic dish that is very much celebrated throughout Thailand. This is how I make it in my small kitchen in America.

This recipe serves 8-10

Let's talk ingredients:

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Curry Paste

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1 can of coconut milk -Chef's Choice brand

4 thumb sized pieces of fresh ginger - peel and rinse

14 small red onions - peel and rinse

3-4 cilantro roots - soak in water and scrub the roots clean

2 heaping tablespoons of curry powder

Blend well in an electric blender.

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Other Ingredients

2 cans of coconut milk

4 1/2 pounds of chcken drumsticks or about 16 drumsticks- may be substituted with whole thigh sections, but for the best taste and texture I recommend against chicken breasts.

4 large yams - peel, then cut in large chunks

3 large white/sweet onions, each cut in halves - an option, it will add flavor to the broth, but this isn't a must-have.

3 spatulas full of nampla

2 heaping tablespoons of curry powder

1 packet of sweetener

Let the Cooking Begin!

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1. In a large pot, pour in the paste and heat on medium high.

2. Immediately follow with one spatula of nampla and the sweetener. Add chicken drumsticks. If you have white/sweet onions, put them in now.

3. Add yams and all the coconut milk. At this point, your curry will not look yellow, yet. As you wait for it to boil, you will see the color will gradually turn yellow.

4. It takes awhile for the chicken to cook. AFTER the drumsticks are cooked, keep the pot boiling for at least half an hour or until the meat falls off the bones and the yams are soft. During this time, put in the rest of nampla and taste. Adjust by adding more nampla for more flavor. If you accidentally make it too salty, open another can of coconut milk and add it to the broth. Ghanggareeghai should NOT taste sweet. The only sweetness that you taste comes from onions and the coconut milk, so please do not overdo the sweetener.

5. Make sure that the chicken is really cooked, with the meat so tender that it falls off the bones.

6. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and cucumber salad.

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Cucumber Salad

We need to have the coolness of cucumber and the tangy apple cider vinegar dressing to balance the strong yellow curry flavor. This salad goes with satay, mussamunn, pawpia - eggrolls, and toddmunnpla - curry fish cakes.

3 large cucumbers - peel, clean and slice across the width

1/2 - 1 whole red onion - peel and slice

1 small red pepper - clean, take off seeds and the core and slice

some cilantro leaves to garnish


5 tablespoons of sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon of salt

13 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

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That's it, you have it. The first time I made it I was surprised that ghanggareeghai was not complicated to make at all. It's a great dish to make, especially in the winter months. Enjoy, and please let me know how your chicken yellow curry turns out.

Pradichaya Gafaae Poonyarit Pradichaya Gafaae Poonyarit

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