Nanny Rhino and the Thai green curry

I have been writing my NaNoWriMo for the past ten days and yesterday, when I was telling Danda about it, he was nodding and smiling encouragingly, saying ‘mm’ and ‘yes, dear’ in all the right places. Then, after a few minutes, he waited for a pause, looked at me quizzically and said, “Who’s Nanny Rhino?”

So, in honour of Danda and of Nanny Rhino, I present to you, the story of the homemade Thai green curry, from way back at the beginning of my Nanny Rhino adventure, on the 1st of this month.

(That thing in the bottom left hand corner is her knitting and the more astute among you will have noticed her lovely frilly cardigan. The square by her chin is an old person’s bus pass. Danda would like it to be known that HE drew this picture and he would like to be credited for it when I become a world famous writer.)




Chillies are a subject close to my heart. I have chilli plants in my garden so whenever I cook with it, I feel a little sentimental. If I pick them at different times in their growth, I use them for different things. When they are young and green, I can load them into a mild green curry for flavour and a bit of kick. When they get older and become red, they need treating with more respect, de-seeding to save my head from blowing off, and adding in small quantities to beef chilli.


Although, having said that, I was once trying to impress with dinner. It was the first time I had ever cooked for my brother, a few years ago. I wanted to appear like a grown up. Being the younger sister, I always feel a bit little, no matter how old we both get. I had recently discovered Thai green curry. In fact, it was the second thing I ever cooked when I started cooking properly. You know what I mean, the period in which first really discover food and explore a new world.


I had decided this was the dish to show off with and I would cook it completely from scratch. I was going to make my own curry paste and everything. So I went gaily a-picking in the garden and returned to the kitchen, my basket bursting with large green chillies. Feeling brave, I threw about seven into my food processor, seeds and all and got whizzing. I whizzed in bits and pieces of everything Thai that I could lay my hands on in the kitchen. I think was growing basil at the time and lots of those went in. Lemongrass, peppercorns, lime leaves, shallots, everything. Whizz, whizz, whizz. I took the lid off to check my curry paste progress and caught a whiff of something fabulous-smelling. I put my face over the paste and sniffed deeply.


Therein lay my mistake. I can’t even describe to you what happened next. It felt like my face had been hit with a sledgehammer. Such pain! The section inbetween my nose and top lip stung like a million wasps had attacked me. My eyes watered uncontrollably and I just let my nose run without wiping it. The slightest dab was more pain than I could handle. Even my chin and forehead were on fire.


I sat down at my kitchen table, in shock, blindly trying to continue on with my curry. Time was tight and I didn’t have time for this nonsense. It seemed like something childish and silly, to be having a reaction to a few little chillies. It would surely pass, I thought doubtfully.


It did not pass. For approximately forty minutes, I sat, trying to stay conscious and just about remaining on this side of the calling-the-emergency-services fence.


The rest of the curry passed by in a chilli-intoxicated blur, my brother loved it, ate all the little leftovers and was impressed by my efforts. I jokingly mentioned my near-death experience in passing, something along the lines of, “O, I accidentally smelled the curry paste as I was making it. It was so strong!” I think I came across quite casual and not like the panicked maniac this curry had turned me into.


To this day, I’m not sure whether he knows what I risked to make his dinner.


13 responses to this post.

  1. I hope this taught you not to try and curry favour (or should that be flavour!) with visiting dining guests in the future…..hahaha


  2. You always have the best stories, Laura! It’s quite possible I’m entering the food/cooking discovering period right now. Even though I cooked for myself in college and while studying abroad, this is the first time I’ve had “my own” kitchen, so I love using it to its potential and making delicious meals. What a crazy curry story!


  3. Posted by Alex Jones on November 11, 2012 at 19:14

    I hate to think what would have happened had it been red chillies in the mixture.


  4. I started freaking out when you hit the food processor. You could write one of the funniest cookbooks EVER.


  5. It seems that making curry is just dangerous all the way around. If you have a moment, please check out my own little – um – situation with making an Indian meal:
    PS – excellent post – glad you are okay


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