Sometimes, having salads can feel more like a punishment rather than pleasure – especially if there’s a guy at the table next to you having Lasagna. Swapping dressings every other day, moving between ranch and vinaigrette isn’t exactly exciting. It just makes me feel like a cow that’s moved from one pasture to another. At the end of the day, I’m still munching on grass. So, once in a while, I find that a small indulgence goes a long way in keeping me on a low carb diet. It is my light at the end of the tunnel – the tunnel being a metaphor for the dark gloominess that salads can inspire in me.
This Thai peanut dressing is one such indulgence. Made with a coconut milk base, this dressing is spicy, tangy, nutty and incredibly creamy. It almost feels like you accidentally knocked over your salad bowl into a Thai curry and had no other choice but to eat it like that. Except, this is a choice I’d make over and over again.
When I first saw this recipe on Hot Thai kitchen – Pailin ‘Pai’ is my absolute go-to for Thai food recipes – I just knew I had to make it, and even before I made it, I could almost taste it in my mind. That is how gorgeously familiar this dish is. If you are Indian, this is just like a coconut curry – it has coconut milk, red chillies, onions, garlic, tamarind and peanuts.
Fried onions are the perfect garnish to these. I grew up with a lot of Burmese dishes at home, because of my grandmother who was born in Burma, and fried onions are a very important component of Burmese cuisine. The oil used to fry onions is bottled up and used to flavour other dishes. They are sweet, with a vague bitterness that brings an interesting flavour to a dish. To make them, slice onions thinly and fry them in medium-hot oil. I like them more brown than golden for that bitterness, but if you don’t fancy that, take them out when they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels, and store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Curry dressing – after cooking!