Despite my profound linguistic limitations, there are many things I have become pretty comfortable with doing in Bangkok. I'll jump into a cab and muddle through with directions. I'll even go most cafes feeling certain that, at the least, I'll be able to order fried rice and a glass of water.
Most of the time, if I'm feeling brave, I'll walk up to a vendor on the street and use what vocabulary I can, pull out some vigorous hand gestures and a big smile, and manage to get what I need. There has been one exception that I have, for some reason, avoided until today.
A few months ago I took a cooking class where we went to a beautiful market to buy fresh produce. We bought one ingredient from a vendor in that market that I have thought about since - fresh coconut milk.
Now, it's not impossible to find fresh coconut milk in other places...this is Thailand, after all. But this coconut milk was the best I've ever tasted. The women who made it put whole coconuts into a shiny metal machine that grounded them into a pulp. The pulp came out one side and was then pressed, on the spot, into the most rich, sweet, fresh coconut milk I've had.
Today I went back to the market to get some of that delicious milk for dinner.
It was a disaster....
I think I have it made when I see bags of the milk already in a row on the counter. I point to a bag, ask for one of "those", and figure I'm all set. Not so. Out comes a series of lengthy questions from the vendor. (I'm in trouble.) I give her a puzzled look, smile, point to the bags, and again say "I'll have one of those". She holds up two sizes of bags, and asks another question. (I am panicking at this point, thus forgetting what little Thai I know). I point to the smaller one. She puts them both on a scale, and asks me another question. I point to the small bag again. Big smile. She asks if I speak Thai. (I debate turning and running home.) "I'm studying the Thai language," I manage to say. She appears confused, but holds up the small bag. I nod effusively and hold out 100 Baht. This seems to seal the transaction. She gives me change and hands me the bag. (I breath a sigh of relief and contemplate using canned coconut milk from this point forward.)
Gathering this key ingredient for tonight's dinner could probably only have felt more daunting if I had shimmied up a tree and knocked down the coconuts myself.
Potato Curry with Mango and Basil
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 large baking potato, peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- 2 cups light coconut milk
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
- 2 cups chickpeas
- 1 mango, peeled and cut into thin strips
- 2 Ttbsp. fish sauce (or soy sauce, for a vegan version)
- 1 tsp. sriracha
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
- steamed rice, for serving
- Heat oil and curry powder in a large skillet over medium heat. Add potato and onion and cook until onions become soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add coconut milk and reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer until potatoes become tender, about 5 minutes. (Add a bit of water if the coconut milk reduces down and is no longer covering the potatoes.)
- Add bell pepper, chickpeas, mango, fish sauce, siracha, and sugar, stirring to combine. Simmer for 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in fresh basil. Serve immediately.
It sounds like it was worth the trouble. The curry looks great!
Very nice table in the photo and... thanks for the recipe.
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Coconut milk works great in curries! I have tasted the difference in curries that use it and those that don't! Thanks for the recipe! 🙂
Beautiful photo -- and incredible recipe. I'm totally game!
Thank you for the recipe. Try
mmm looks tasty!
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Looks great and it's good to see you on Freshly Pressed!
Thailand is the land of smiles, after all! I adore Bangkok!
I lived in Vietnam for a year and know that Asian languages are ridiculously hard to learn. So congrats on getting that milk and congrats on freshly pressed, while we're at it!
Great post from a place I love!
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Looks and sounds delish!!
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I love coconut in EVERYTHING... in my chocolate, in my curries, in my drinks...even in mu sun tan lotion...lol! Fabulous recipe... I am intrigues to know what the lady kept asking you!lol.
sounds like the adventure was getting the coconut milk. the curry looks yummy!
good thing it's almost lunch time because that picture just made my mouth water. yum.
This looks so good! I'm saving this recipe for later. 🙂
Sensational. I'm going to give it a go.
I love curry, and a majority of my meals are vegetarian. I will definitely give this recipe a try. Thank you!
I'm glad you persevered to get the coconut milk you wanted! Thanks for the recipe--I have been trying to cook with coconut more often.
It was a lot of trouble, but definitely worth the pay-off in the end. I have been trying to use coconut milk more often as well. Please do share if you have any coconut milk recipes that you would recommend!
I'm guessing you have Thai Basil, which is different from "Sweet" Basil? Looks good, I've made something similar and added a few shrimp at the end.
Great catch, midnitechef. Both Thai and Sweet basil are fairly easy to find here in Bangkok. I typically try to use the sweet Italian variety whenever possible for the blog, unless I specify otherwise. I know that in most places, Thai basil is near impossible to find. It certainly is delicious though!
nom nom nom!!!
Platanos, Mangoes and Me!
I just found your blog and I like it. Great story and nice dish...
Looks delicious. Congrats on being FP'd!
Thank you for sharing... and for daring! Nest time it will be better!
my fav, i eat this 2 time a week, cool post.
Yummo! That looks woo-woo delish!
Oooh... yummo! That looks woo-woo delish!
i'm actually living in thailand myself right now and i'm all-too-familiar with such interactions! but, as it seems you did, i find they're usually worth it in the end. i will definitely be attempting this dish-- but where do you get chick peas?! i've been living miserably (okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration) without since arriving here.
Hi neighbor! They sell dried chickpeas in small bags in some of the bigger upscale grocery stores. Mine come from Foodland and I just soak them overnight and boil them until they're cooked. I find quinoa at Foodland too, but when we first got here I wasn't sure what I would do with myself without those "staples".
Delicious, i am sure, however a triple-whammy for anyone with Anaphylaxis which is when nut-meats or large-pitted "fruits" induce the swelling of the inner throat or esophagus. I only mention this bcs at an early age of my five decades on earth, many people told my parents that it was "all in my head" when I got sick from coconuts, mango, pesto or even got "zits" on my nose from eating bananas. So traveling to the Caribbean is fought with food dangers of these kinds that I have learned to avoid unless hidden in menu items. Beware! Kudos on getting freshly-peanut oil pressed. 🙂
Looks yummy and I am not even a fan of Curry! thanks for sharing.
glorious looking curry!
My husband and I love coconut & curry dishes--we'll be trying this!
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And add some chili powder for a roar-rific experience 😀
Looks fantastic and yum! Thanks for the recipe. 🙂
so i have the idea for a lunch 🙂
thanks for the recipe. I've tried it and yes, everyone do love it 🙂
Hey Thanks for sharing.....Great recipe!!! will try it today.
Looks delicious and I like the style of your blog! I will follow your posts and try to cook something. The pictures are also really beautiful. I like! 🙂
Mouth watering receipe .......yummy 🙂
I am excited to try this recipe! ~thanks
It sounds great! i gonna to try it.
So delicious!! Curries are my favorite dishes, so tasty and healthy! Thanks for sharing this great recipe!
Me too - I love curries, and they're so good for leftovers in lunch. 😉
This looks DELICIOUS, though I don't eat any animal derivatives. Do you have any suggestions about what I might use instead of fish sauces?
This would be excellent if transformed into a vegan dish! You could easily do without the fish sauce, but would need to compensate with a touch of saltiness, so I'd try a tiny bit of soy sauce or even just a pinch of salt. Let me know what you think!
This is so freaking amazing! I love your recipe. I am so drooling now
Now I'm hungry.
I really enjoyed reading this post. The narrative introduces the recipe in a really unique manner. Thanks for that experience.. I saw this documentary called Discover The Gift that has opened my eyes to the gifts that we all have to offer... That woman merchant offered you the best coconut milk you've ever tasted, this post gave me an imaginative vivifying experience... In essence, thank you. Have you heard of Discover The Gift? You should check it out 😛 https://on.fb.me/n57FHB
This was delicious! A combination I’d not have tried without the recommendation. Thanks for a great, affordable dinner!
So great to hear!