A classic Thai green curry is one of the best-known foods from Thailand. The dish originates from Central Thailand, but can be found on menus at restaurants across the country. The Thai word for curry is gaeng (also written as kaeng) and different chefs have their own way of preparing a Thai curry. In this green curry with chicken recipe, Gary Butler, aka The Roaming Cook, presents his take on this ever popular Thai favourite. Over to you, Gary.
Sweet, spicy and fragrant, green curry is a firm favourite with Thai locals and visitors alike. This coconut cream-based curry gets its green colour from pounded Thai green birds-eye chillies that are the main ingredient of its curry paste.
‘Gaeng khiao wan‘ translates to ‘sweet green curry’, but I’m told that it has more to do with the colour rather than the dish having an overly sweet taste. An authentic Thai green curry is spicy and a little sweet. It’s also pale in colour and not bright green as you may be used to seeing on Western recipe blogs and Instagram feeds. If you’re missing Thailand, this authentic Thai green curry with chicken recipe will take you right back there.
Thai green curry with chicken recipe
Serves: 4 – 6 people
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
For the curry paste
- 10 large green chillies or 15 green birds-eye chillies (or a mixture of both) roughly chopped.
- 3-4 small shallots or half a small red onion, chopped.
- 1 thumb-sized piece of galangal, finely chopped.
- 2 sticks of lemongrass, white parts only, finely sliced.
- 1 head of garlic (break the head and peel the cloves).
- 1 tsp of Maldon sea salt.
- 1 tsp of coriander seeds.
- ½ a tsp of white peppercorns.
- Zest of half a kaffir lime, finely chopped. You can substitute for a regular lime if you can’t get kaffir limes.
- 2 coriander roots, finely chopped. If you can’t find roots, use 5 fresh coriander stems, finely chopped.
- 1 tsp of shrimp paste.
- 60 mls of flavourless oil such as sunflower or rapeseed oil.
Thai green curries can be fiercely hot due to their use of Thai birds-eye chillies. If you don’t want your curry to be too spicy, use large green chillies and take out the seeds. If you want it a little hotter, use a mix of birds-eye and long chillies. And if you want your curry Thai-style spicy, use as many birds-eye chillies as you can handle!
The amount of oil you’ll need for the paste is a guide. You need enough oil to get the blender moving, and the ingredients blitzed, so it will also depend on the type of mixer you have.
Fresh kaffir or makrut lime leaves can be very expensive and hard to find in supermarkets in the UK or Ireland. Our tip would be to buy the frozen leaves online or at Asian stores. You get a lot for your money buying frozen without compromising on flavour.
For the curry
- 4-6 bone-in chicken thighs, cut into pieces through the bone.
- 400 ml can of coconut milk. Use coconut milk with the highest concentration of fat.
- 500 ml of water. Pour the water into the blender.
- Two long red chillies, cut on the diagonal.
- 10 Thai or Asian small green aubergines, halved. You can use any aubergines you like if you can’t find Thai ones. Long green aubergines can be found in any Asian store and make an excellent substitute for the smaller Thai variety.
- One tablespoon of palm sugar (or more or less to taste). This can be substituted for brown sugar.
- 1-2 tsp of fish sauce.
- Four kaffir lime leaves, torn in half.
If you can’t find the small and round Thai aubergines, long green ones can be found in any Asian store. They make a great substitute and are in keeping with the green curry theme. That being said, feel free to use any variety you want.
- Heat a dry pan over medium-low heat. Stir and toss the coriander and cumin seeds until they start to look toasted and become fragrant (around 1-2 minutes). It’s important not to burn the spices, or they will become bitter, so keep a close eye on them at this stage.
- Blitz the cumin and coriander seeds in a spice grinder or grind in a stone pestle and mortar. Place in a bowl and set aside for later.
- Pour all of the curry paste ingredients into a blender (a bullet blender is perfect for this) along with the oil and blitz to a fine paste.
- In a large saucepan or casserole dish pour in your homemade paste and cook over medium-low heat, until it darkens and the oil starts to separate from the edges of the paste (5-10 minutes).
- Add in your dry spice mix and cook through for another minute or so (if you haven’t added it to your paste previously).
- Add in the chicken pieces and fry with the paste for another minute or so.
- Pour 500 ml of water into the blender and give it a shake to release any paste that’s still clinging on to the sides. Pour this water into the pot along with the torn kaffir lime leaves and bring to the boil.
- Cook on medium heat for 15- 20 minutes or until you are confident the chicken is cooked through and tender.
- Pour in the coconut milk along with the aubergine. Boil for a further 5 minutes on high. Throw in three-quarters of the red chillies (saving enough chillies to garnish each final dish) along with the torn kaffir lime leaves.
- Cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the sugar and fish sauce and cook for 1 minute.
- Throw in the Thai basil and turn off the heat.
- Let the curry sit for at least 10 minutes to let the flavour settle.
- Serve in bowls with a little fresh red chilli on top for garnish.
- Serve with a big, steaming hot bowl of jasmine rice.
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The Roaming Cook
Originally from the UK, Gary now lives in Bangkok with his wife and young son. A passionate foodie, Gary is equally at home at a simple street food stall as he is at an upmarket restaurant. Follow The Roaming Cook for insider travel tips and advice on where to eat during your trip to Thailand.