If you go to Thailand and you want to try the local food, then you will definitely sooner or later come in contact with one of Thailands most delicious dishes: Thai Curry. Heck, you probably already had it somewhere at home, as Thai curries are a delicacy worldwide. We want to show you the main differences of the 5 curries you can find in Thailand and give you our favourite recipe for Thai Yellow Chicken Curry at the end of this article. Make sure to always keep your eyes and nose open for delicious curries, no matter whether you are in one of the many markets of Bangkok or in less busy streets of Chiang Mai.
Green Sweet Curry
Green Sweet Curry originated from Central Thailand and is probably the hottest Thai curry in this list. When you cook the green chillies together with the coconut milk, a creamy green colour emerges. This green colour is called “sweet green” in Thai and is the reason why you call this curry Green Sweet Curry. Main ingredients are meat or fish, coconut milk, green curry paste, palm sugar, and fish sauce. Often you get some green or white vegetables or fruit in it, like for example the Thai eggplant or pea aubergines.
Red Thai Curry
The red curry paste is the most versatile amongst the Thai curry pastes and originates from Central Thailand. It is used for the widest range of Thai dishes. Like the Green Curry, it also gets its colour from the chillies, which in this case are red. Common ingredients for a Thai Red Curry are red curry paste, coconut milk, any kind of meat or fish, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, Thai basil, bamboo shots sugar and Thai eggplant.
Yellow Thai Curry
Thai Yellow Curry is one of the milder curries you can find in Thailand. It has some influences from the British naval cuisine and is one of the most popular curries outside of Thailand. It gets its yellow colour mainly because of the turmeric in the yellow curry paste. Common ingredients in a yellow curry are meat (mainly chicken or beef), potatoes and coconut milk.
Massaman is not an original Thai word. It is generally thought to originate from the word “Mussulman” which is an archaic word form for Muslims. There are different theories from where this curry origins. One theory says that it was invented in Central Thailand by a Persian merchant while the other theory believes that it is a Southern Thai dish with influences from Malaysia and India. “Masam” in Malay means sour. The Massaman curry contains mainly chicken, Massaman curry paste, potatoes, onions, tamarind paste, and peanuts.
The Panang Curry originates from the Malay island of Penang. It is a variation of the red curry, but less spicy as it contains fewer chillies. Because its main ingredients are coconut cream and peanuts, it is also a lot creamier and sweeter. You normally eat it with chicken. Tom cooked this delicious curry in the Thai Akha Cooking School in Chiang Mai.
Thai Yellow Chicken Curry Recipe
This is a recipe that we made as part of a cooking school we did in Bangkok, Thailand. So first of all many thanks to Koy from the Sompong Cooking School for allowing us to reproduce this recipe with her permission. If you are in Bangkok and like to cook, then we can recommend Sompong as an authentic Thai food cooking experience.
The most important kitchen utensil for cooking Thai dishes is definitely a good quality wok. If you don’t have one yet at home, then check out this great offer:
To make Thai yellow chicken curry, you first have to make the curry paste according to the recipe below.
This is for chicken curry. Amounts are per person/serving.
Thai Yellow Curry Paste (Nam Kang Ka Ree)
- 2 dried red chillis, seeded and soaked
- 1 tbsp chopped shallots
- 1/2 tbsp chopped garlic
- 1/2 tbsp chopped lemongrass
- 1 tsp roasted coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp roasted cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp coriander root
- 5 peppercorns
- 1 tbsp chopped ginger
- 1 tsp chopped galangal
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/4 tsp tumeric powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp shrimp paste
Pound the dry ingredients (coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, curry powder, turmeric, salt) in a mortar and mix in afterwards all herbs (lemongrass, coriander root, ginger, galangal). Then follow with juicy ingredients (garlic, shallots, shrimp paste, chillis). Pound everything together until mixed well.
Thai Yellow Curry (Kang Ka Ree Gai)
- 70g chicken, cut into small pieces
- 1 tbsp curry paste
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 medium size potato, boiled and diced
- 1/4 onion
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp palm sugar
- 1 tbsp coconut or wok oil
- 1/2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp crispy shallots (for garnish)
(in the pic below, we have also added a sliced yellow pepper to our curry)
Stir-fry curry paste in oil, with cinnamon stick and butter, over a medium heat until fragrant. Add one cup of coconut cream and stir until oil surfaces. Add the chicken, onion and potato and stir-fry until the chicken is partly cooked. Mix in the coconut milk and season with the sugar and fish sauce. Boil the curry until the chicken and potatoes are cooked, then turn off the heat. Arrange with the deep fried shallots and fresh chopped coriander leaves, serve in bowls with rice.
If we inspired you to cook more Thai curries, then have a look at this great book: