In terms of broadening my culinary horizons, my post-college move to Nashville back in 1998 pretty much changed everything.

Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t collard greens or black eyed peas or the glories of fried chicken that left the most memorable impression. It was the red curry at Siam Cuisine off White Bridge Road in Nashville.

Now I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous about trying Thai food back in the late ’90s. I’ve enjoyed food with a certain heat level, but I was sure that Thai cuisine would be way out of my comfort zone. Basically, I thought my mouth was going to start on fire and that my taste buds would burn off permanently. But then I tried red curry and absolutely fell in love. The broth, the vegetables, the tender chicken, just the fragrance of the dish alone…mmm, I could probably go for some right now.

Funny enough, I always thought that red curry was so delicious that it would be impossible to recreate at home. But thanks to a basic recipe and the wider availability of Asian ingredients at the local grocery store (!!!), I can make red curry whenever I want for a whole lot less than restaurant prices.

Now in the spirit of sharing…here’s the recipe I’ve been using from

Scrumptious Thai Coconut Red Curry (serves 2-3)

2 tablespoons red curry paste (I use a little more, plus a sprinkle of red pepper flakes to make it spicier)
1 (15 ounce) can coconut milk (I use the “light” variety for less calories/fat and don’t notice a difference )
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup bamboo shoots
3 teaspoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup mushrooms (shittake are my favorite for this dish)
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 green pepper
1/2 yellow pepper
1/2 onion (yellow or white)
2 chicken breasts
10 ounces of your favorite rice
In a medium saucepan combine red curry paste with the coconut milk.

Simmer for 5 minutes. Add fresh basil, bamboo shoots, fish sauce, brown sugar, chicken stock, and 1/2 cup of your favorite mushrooms. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
While you are simmering, saute the chopped peppers and onion in a frying pan or wok lightly covered in olive oil. Fry lightly peppered chicken breasts till cooked through.

Place sauteed peppers and onions on bowls of rice and spoon curry sauce over rice. You can either use curry sauce to lightly flavor rice or more as a broth-y mixture. I use jasmine rice, but any type is fine. Add cut chicken breast or other meat/tofu if desired.