At this time of year, the chillies are beginning to ripen on the plants. Caldero fruits turn from pale green, to cream, to orange, to red - like a Tequila Sunrise of the chilli world. Black Hungarian darken from green to, well not black, but a deep aubergine purple. It reminds me that if I want to cook anything that specifically requires green chillies, then I only have a limited time left.
With several aubergines ready to pick as well, I've been thinking about a green Thai curry. With home-grown shallots, garlic, lemon grass, and Kaffir lime leaves, I can put together a fresh and zingy Thai spice paste just by stepping outside the back door.
Half a teaspoon of coriander seeds
Quarter teaspoon cumin seeds
Quarter teaspoon (about 5-6) green peppercorns
3 fresh green chillies, trimmed and deseeded
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 stalks of lemon grass, trimmed
2 large Kaffir lime leaves
Half an inch of fresh ginger
3-4 coriander roots and lower stalks - reserve the leaves, see below
Pinch of salt
Half a teaspoon shrimp paste
Grind the coriander, cumin and green peppercorns to powder in a small food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and pulverise until you have a smooth green paste.
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 chicken breasts, cut into bitesize chunks
Handful of French beans, trimmed
1 large or 2 slim purple aubergines, trimmed and cut into 2cm cubes
2 Kaffir lime leaves, chopped
150ml coconut cream
Half tablespoon fish sauce
Half teaspoon sugar
2 tbsp stock/water
Handful Thai basil leaves
Coriander leaves, see above
Bring a panful of water to the boil, add the French beans and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. You can save the cooking water to use in place of the stock/water in the ingredients list.
Heat the oil in a wide pan or wok. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Throw in the green curry paste and stir until well mixed. Add the coconut cream, and heat up until it bubbles and thickens. Add the chicken and aubergines, stir well and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 5-10 minutes. Add the fish sauce, sugar and stock/water and stir well to mix. Keep simmering until cooked through - this could be just a couple of minutes more. Add the French beans and chopped lime leaves, stir well.
Taste the curry and adjust the fish sauce/sugar if necessary. Chop the coriander leaves roughly - add these and the whole Thai basil leaves. Stir well to mix, bring back to simmering, and then serve.