Thai chicken curry Thai chicken curry

Chicken curry is a dish that I grew up with. But the chicken curry of my childhood was just a coconut milk based stew made yellow with curry powder. Homey and really comforting but, well… it lacked fire somehow. Later on, when I learned to cook, I would add combine a teaspoonful of cayenne powder with the curry powder. And, much later, I would learn to add the spices during the sauteeing stage and not after.

One thing I learned during a trip around Southeast Asia is that there are many, many ways to cook curried dishes — Indian-style curry has yogurt, Thai-style curry has coconut milk or cream, and that inclusion of potatoes is a European modification. Curried dishes can be quite dry or saucy and the color of the stew varies depending on the kind of curry paste used — yellow, red or green. I’ve already gotten my hands on the recipes for all three kinds of curry paste, I do intend to make them one of these days but, for now, let me just share with you this five-step chicken curry recipe (six, if you include the step when you serve the dish) as an update and addition to my 2005 chicken curry recipe.

Recipe: Thai chicken curry



  1. Prepare the herbs and spices.
  2. Thai chicken curry
  3. Finely slice two to three stalks of lemongrass. Finely slice an onion (two to three shallots would be better). Crush and roughly chop two to three cloves of garlic. Peel and slice a thumb-sized piece of ginger. Strip the leaves of a couple of sprigs of Thai basil. Separate the kaffir lime leaves.
  4. Thai chicken curry
  5. Heat the cooking oil in a thick-bottomed pot. A pot or pan with a thin bottom will likely cause scorching since you will be simmering the stew in a thick coconut cream.
  6. Saute the onion (or shallots), garlic, lemongrass and ginger until the onions start to turn translucent.
  7. Thai chicken curry
  8. Add the curry powder. Now, not later. Spices do have essential oils and you want those oils released for maximum flavor. Stir for about 30 seconds.
  9. Thai chicken curry
  10. Add the chicken pieces. Stir to coat each chicken piece with the curry. Cook, stirring often, until the chicken changes color.
  11. Thai chicken curry
  12. Pour in the coconut cream. Throw in the finger chilis, kaffir lime leaves and basil. Season with patis (fish sauce). Stir, cover and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes. Check the liquid after 20 minutes or so. If the mixture appears too dry, add a little water, no more than a quarter of a cup. Too much water and you’ll have a soup instead of a stew.
  13. If you want to add potatoes, add them after the first 20 minutes, bring to a gentle boil then continue simmering.
  14. Before turning off the heat, taste and season with more patis (fish sauce) if necessary.
  15. Thai chicken curry
  16. You’re now ready to serve your chicken curry. Place a chicken (and potato, if using) on top of hot rice, smother with sauce and serve at once.
  17. Alternatively, serve the chicken (and potatoes) in individual bowls with some of the sauce.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4


  1. Grace says

    hi ate connie…..i’m trying to find that sambal oelek, what kind of spice is it? malaysian, indonesian or thai?

    • housekeeper says

      Hi Ms. Connie!

      I live here in the US, and being away from the regular Filipino brands, I am not sure if I bought the right ingredient for this recipe. I read one of your posts that distinguishes coconut cream from coconut milk. So I specifically bought coconut cream for this recipe. However, when I opened the can of “coconut cream”, it was so thick and the color is that of (school) paste! I tasted it a bit, and it was very very sweet, like “runny” macapuno! I used coconut milk instead. Should I have used that “cream”? The label clearly said coconut cream, but I don’t know if that is the kind you used for this dish. Please let me know cause I plan to cook this dish again. Thanks and more power to this very helpful site!

      • says

        The difference between cream and milk is the water content. Cream is the first extract (kakang gata) without (or with very little) water added. Coconut milk is either diluted coconut cream or the second and third extracts with much water added. I don’t know how coconut cream/milk are labeled in the US as it depends a lot on their country of origin.

        • housekeeper says

          Thanks Ms. Connie! The brand I got is from Thailand, but I think it is the kind that is used for pastries. Regular coconut milk worked fine, and it was delicious! I took a pic of it, and will try to send it to you for the Reader’s Gallery. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  2. mamsi says

    Hi miss connie. love chicken curry . May i suggest you try putting curry leaves next time. It will SMELL so great. Curry leaves are very easy to grow and we use them a lot in indian dishes.. Around 6 to 7 leaves in a dish will do…

    • Natz San Mateo says

      Hello Mamsi,

      Where could I get curry leaves?

      I always thought that “curry” was a mixture of different spices and that it did not come from any particular tree.

      Thanks for your suggestion.

      • mamsi says

        Hi natz, curry leaves (kadi patta-in india ) are herbs. Currrry powder is a mixture of spicies.. The leaves are for flavor and aroma .I got mine in greenhills(tiangge area where plants are sold ) several years ago . They dont need a lot of work . Just water everyday..