Old spelling: แกงก้าหริ่กุ้งกับแตงกวา
In this old-fashioned coconut-based curry, orangey shrimp and bright green cucumber shine in a golden haze of curry powder, caressed by the light breeze of Indian flare. Cucumbers are used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine as a coolant, to offset internal heat and to resolve fevers. Thus, like a refreshing oasis in the middle of a shimmering desert, the cucumber counterbalances the chili’s internal heat energy and mellows the fragrant, earthy undertones of the spice blend in the dish.
Prawns with cucumber was a popular Anglo-Indian curry combination, with numerous recipes for the dish featured in the British cookbooks of the midand late-1800s. For this reason, it is likely that Lady Plean Passakornrawong included the dish among the earliest recipes published in her 1889 food column “Bpaa Ga Sin (ปากะศิลป์)” in the magazine Bpradtithin Bat Laae Joht Maai Haeht and, in 1908, the fifth volume of her book Maae Khruaa Huaa Bpaa (MKHP) (ตำราแม่ครัวหัวป่าก์).
The composition of the curry paste also points to the Anglo-Indian provenance of the dish, from which Lady Plean excludes all the Siamese ingredients of the phrik khing paste: the galangal, lemongrass and fermented shrimp paste (kapi). For the curry powder feel of the dish, Lady Plean recommends using a minimal aromatic profile of white peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds, with turmeric powder for color.
Anglo-Indian recipes generally call for frying fresh chilies, shallots, garlic and ginger in butter or ghee; after adding clove, cinnamon, turmeric and curry powders, the curry is let to simmer in coconut milk, chicken broth or fish consommé. Similarly, in this recipe, Lady Plean dilutes the curry paste in coconut middle cream (กลางกะทิ) and simmers the shrimp and cucumber in it. She then seasons the dish with fish sauce and palm sugar to a salty and slightly sweet profile, serving it with a strong Indian herbal declaration of earthy coriander leaves, as opposed to the lemony anise-flavored basil that often decorates Siamese curries.
The table below summarizes the curry paste:
|white peppercorns||Kaffir lime zest|
|Coriander seeds||Fermented shrimp paste (kapi)|
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- 12 pieces shrimp (กุ้ง) peeled and deveined
- 2 cups cucumber (แตงกวา)
- 1/2 cups coconut cream (หัวกะทิ)
- 2 cups coconut milk (หางกะทิ)
- 1 teaspoon ground dried chili (พริกป่น) freshly roasted and ground
- 1 cup coriander leaves (ใบผักชี)
For the gaaeng garee curry paste:
- 1 tablespoon dried Thai bird’s eye chili (phrik kee noo) (พริกขี้หนููแห้ง) rehydrated
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemongrass (ตะไคร้)
- 2 tablespoons coriander roots (รากผักชี) รscraped, washed and chopped
- 3 tablespoons shallots (หอมแดง)
- 2 tablespoons Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย)
- 1 teaspoon white peppercorns (พริกไทย) (S1) roasted and ground
- 1 tablespoons coriander seeds (malet phak chee) (เมล็ดผักชี) (S2) roasted and ground
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (malet yeeraa) (เมล็ดยี่หร่า) (S3) roasted and ground
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (ผงขมิ้น)
- 1 part fish sauce (น้ำปลา)
- 1/2 part palm sugar (น้ำตาลมะพร้าว)
- Clean, peel and devein the rest of the shrimp for the curry. Set aside.
- Slice the cucumber lengthwise into quarters, then into elongated bite-sized pieces. You can peel the cucumber or leave it unpeeled.
Prepare the curry paste:
- An overview of the curry paste ingredients.
- Deseed and rehydrate the dried chilies in hot water. Set aside.
- Roast and grind the spices, starting with the white peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds.
- Pound the curry paste, starting with the chilies, and gradually add the other ingredients, from the driest to the wet. Pound the paste until it is smooth with a rounded aroma.
- Add the ground dried spices and turmeric powder; pound to a smooth paste.
- Remove the curry paste and set it aside.
- Wash the mortar and pestle with about one cup of plain water, reserve the liquids.
Cook the curry:
- In a brass wok, heat the middle coconut cream until it thickens slightly. Add the curry paste.
- Simmer the paste until it loses its rawness and only a slight amount of oil appears
- Add some plain water and the liquids from washing the mortar and pestle. This is important in order to keep the oil particles created during the paste cooking from mixing with the rest of the broth.
- Dilute the curry with water or stock to your liking.
- Add the shrimp to the curry and allow it to cook.
- When the shrimp are about 50% done, add the cucumber and cook them together until the shrimp are done. If you prefer the cucumbers to have a softer texture, you can add the shrimp and cucumbers to the curry at the same time.
- Start by seasoning the salty element using fish sauce. When you are satisfied with the saltiness, add the palm sugar at the ratio indicated.
Plate and serve:
- Put the curry into a serving bowl and garnish with a generous amount of coriander leaves.