If there’s one question I’ve been asking myself for the last god-knows-how-long, it’s what works better with a Thai red curry, Thornbridge’s Kipling or Jaipur...?
Thai red curry: Chicken thigh; onion; garlic, ginger and fresh red chilli; pinch of sugar, some paprika, and turmeric; Waitrose’s red curry paste; coconut milk; fish sauce, a big handful or coriander and some lime juice, in that order, allowing each to have five minutes before putting the next bit in. You can put vegetables in if you want - I just added more chicken (by the way, I’ve stopped writing recipes out in the typical way... this allows for masculine intervention and stubbornness, kind of like putting together a cupboard with the instructions – base, sides, top, door, handles).
I got the beers from myBrewerytap who are selling a mixed box of Kipling and Jaipur. I had a box from them last year and since then they’ve continued to grow impressively, increasingly featuring more interesting breweries. It’s great to see Thornbridge available now (with the hope of more beers coming soon) as well as Crown.
As I was cooking I put a message on twitter asking whether people thought the Kipling or Jaipur would work better. The answer was unanimous (out of four or five...) that it would be Jaipur. The curry was hot, creamy and sweet, salty, fragrant and juiced with lime to lift and lighten all the flavours. Kipling, at 5.2%, is lighter in body than Jaipur and hopped with Nelson Sauvins, which make themselves known immediately with a nose of creamy passion fruit, lime and kiwi. It’s smooth and fruity with a great bite of dry bitterness at the end and a beer I’d happily drink every day. With the curry, the hops hit the chilli first, perking them up just enough, then the lime and coriander come in and play with the fruitiness, then it sweeps to the end with a palate-cleansing bitterness. The joy in this is the passion fruit, citrus and kiwi quality from the hops, which really bring it to life and perfectly balance the spectrum of flavour in the curry, particularly the lime and coriander. Jaipur, at 5.9%, is bigger, slightly sweeter and hopped with American varieties giving a great tangerine and floral aroma. There’s more body and sweetness in the Jaipur and the finish is smooth and quenching rather than dry. With the curry it becomes earthier, there’s a herbal quality to it and then at the end there’s a hidden punch of bitterness from the hops which spikes the chilli heat. It doesn’t quite have the lightness to lift the creamy curry and the oranges and coconut don’t balance as well as the tropical fruit in the Kipling.
Kipling won the fight - the dry finish, the light and lively body, and the unique bridging flavours of the fruit made for a joy of a match. The Kipling also seems to fare slightly better in the bottle than Jaipur which was lacking some of its usual punch. I’m already craving this dinner again; it was one of the most successful FABPOWs I’ve had this year, plus, of course, who can resist beer and curry?