Don’t let the light, sweet aroma of basil and the creamy appearance of the sauce fool you. Of all the wonderful Thai chiles, this dish is always the hottest, which means it can be nearly nuclear. This is a curry that gets better with age, so if you can, prepare it a day ahead up to the point of adding the basil and chiles and refrigerate until ready for service. Commercial curry pastes are acceptable in this recipe, but it does taste best when prepared with a fresh paste. Since curry pastes can be frozen, keep some in the freezer to use in dishes like this. If using canned coconut cream, don’t shake or mix the can before measuring—use the thicker cream on top for boiling with the paste.
- ½ cup coconut cream
- ¼ to 1/3 cup Thai green curry paste, store-bought or homemade
- 2 chicken breasts, skin removed, cut in bite-size pieces
- One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
- 1½ cups diced eggplant
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 to 3 teaspoons Thai fish sauce (available in Asian markets)
- 6 fresh kaffir lime leaves, or substitute 4 dried (available in Asian markets; optional)
- Salt to taste
- 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, preferably Thai
- 4 red Thai chiles, stems and seeds removed, cut in strips; or substitute cayenne chiles
- Fresh Thai basil leaves for garnish
Heat a heavy saucepan over medium heat, add the cream, and simmer gently until boiling. Boil for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the cream forms a sheen on top. Add the curry paste and, using the back of a spoon, mash the paste until it becomes smooth. Continue to fry until the mixture darkens and becomes very fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken and stir to coat the pieces.
Stir in enough of the coconut milk to reach the desired consistency. Add the eggplant, sugar, fish sauce, lime leaves, if using, and salt to taste. Gently simmer the sauce for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken and eggplant are done. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Add the basil and chile and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes.
To serve, remove the kaffir lime leaves, place the curry in a serving bowl, and garnish with the fresh basil leaves.