I first encountered this red curry during rain season on a wet night in Kanchanaburi Chukdon night market. It is a very rich curry due to the volume of curry paste used. But it was so beautifully contrasted and offset with extremely sour leaves from the madan tree which is a relative of the mangosteen tree. Sprinkled on top were tart flavored pak tiew leaves.
What I find important in a good curry is that there are strong herbal notes and tropical flavors that shine clearly through the seasoning. There is a uncountable amount of red curry versions with different herbal configurations and ratios in Thailand. What I try to look for and consider as another attractive quality is some kind of logical pairing between the meat or protein used and the curry itself.
Roasted Thai red chicken curry with tropical madan leaves from the central plain of Thailand.
Roasted Thai Red Chicken Curry with Tropical Madan Leaves (แกงเผ็ดไก่ย่างใบมะดันอ่อน)
Rub whole free range chicken with sea salt then roast chicken in the oven at 140 C for 50 mins put on the lowest tray level of the oven without any lid or cover.
Make a fine paste from the dried long red chilli, small birds eye chilli, galangal, kaffir lime zest, coriander roots, salt, lemongrass, red onion, garlic and shrimp paste.
Dry roast white peppercorns, coriander seed, cumin seed and nutmeg in a pan then pound them together until they become a powder.
Firstly split the coconut cream (gently heat until you can see the oil) than add the curry paste, stir in and cook for about 5 minutes. Over a medium low heat until fragrant then add dry spice powders. Season the paste with the palm sugar, fish sauce, salt, tamarind juice then moisten with the coconut milk. Finally add the bai madan leaves and simmer for 10 minutes. It may be necessary to moisten with a little additional stock. Put to the side for 20 minutes to allow the curry to ripen.
Check the seasoning: the curry should taste rich and spicy, sour, salty and sweet
Garnish with finely sliced kaffir lime leave (ใบมะกรูดซอย), Pak tiew (ผักติ้ว)