Thai food is a taste explosion in every bite. With my Thai food curry recipes, you can prepare fresh, spicy, salty, sweet and sour, with a variety of textures and temperatures, Once you’ve tried my Thai food curry recipes, you’ll never go back to plain old meat-and-potatoes cooking again.
Thai food has more intensity, more flavors, more aroma, spices, and textures than any other kind of food. If you like Asian food, you’re going to fall head-over-heels-in-love with Thai food!
Thai Food Curry Recipes
There are two main types of Thai curries: coconut-based and non-coconut based. Those using coconut milk mostly have similar initial steps which include separating the coconut oil and mixing curry paste into coconut milk. These first 2 steps are keys to perfecting your curry dishes. For instance, if you are making green curry, red curry, matsaman, or gaeng kari, the very first step is bringing creamy coconut milk to a boil until the oil starts to separate. You do not want to boil too long because you will break the coconut milk and it will look like little white balls. After adding curry paste into the coconut milk, stir until the green or red oil separates and floats to the top.
Frequently stirring curry paste is required because you do not want to burn the paste. Curry paste may stick to a cooking spoon, so make sure to remove it from the spoon. During this process, if the coconut milk is getting dry, add some little water at a time to keep the curry paste from burning. After adding vegetables, do not overcook them.
Thai cuisine uses various types of curry paste. A Thai curry dish is made from curry paste, coconut milk or water, meat, seafood, vegetables or fruit, and herbs. Today there are four main curries in Thai cuisine:
Curries in Thailand mainly differ from the curries in Indian cuisine in their use of ingredients such as herbs and aromatic leaves over a mix of spices.
The spiciness of Thai curries depends on the amount and kind of chili used in the making of the paste. Even within one type of curry, the spiciness can differ widely.
Thai food curry recipes start with a very intense and fragrant curry paste or sauce, usually made by hand with pestle & mortar. Once the paste/sauce is made, Thai curry is extremely easy to create, simply by adding any variety of meat, seafood, vegetables, or tofu and cooking it in the oven (like a casserole).
Origins of Thai Curry
The roots of Thai cuisine can be found both in regional tastes and flavors as well as in the influence of cooking styles from nearby cultures. Thai food recipes are influenced by Indian and Malaysian spices and dishes. Thais were quick to add these wonderful flavors to their own unique version of curry.
The word “curry” refers to dishes using either an Indian-style or Indian-influenced curry powder that is made with spices that are common to Indian dishes but less often used in these proportions in Thai cuisine. Thai people use the word “gaeng” to refer to curry dishes. Thai food curry recipes refer to preparing a watery dish to be eaten with rice and utilizing shrimp paste, onions or shallots, chilies, and garlic as essential ingredients. Although “gaeng” is also defined watery, the thickness of the sauce can vary considerably from broth-like to that of a thick stew, and it can even be a completely dry dish, for example, phat phrik khing and khua khling, which are stir-fried dishes with a curry paste.. Gaeng som and Geang pa are examples of the more broth-like curries. Matsaman and gaeng khua resemble stews. Even noodle dishes such as khanom chin nam ngiao are also seen as Thai curry dishes as they all use curry pastes in their preparation.
Thai curries are eaten in combination with rice. Long-grained jasmine rice in central and southern Thailand and sticky rice in northern and northeastern Thailand, and sometimes with noodles. Certain Thai curries can also be eaten with roti, the Thai version of the Indian-style fried flat bread from Malaysia called roti canai.
Thai curry ingredients
- Curry paste
- Thai curries are always made with a curry paste. Common ingredients used in many Thai curry pastes are:
- Shrimp paste
- Chillies; depending on the curry these can be dried or fresh, red or green
- Onions or shallots
- Coriander (cilantro) root
Coconut milk is not included in this definition and many Thai curries, such as gaeng som and gaeng pa, do not feature it. Curries in northern Thai cuisine, with only a few exceptions, do not use coconut milk due to coconut palms not growing well, if at all, in the climate of the Thai highlands.
Depending on the type of Thai food curry recipe, additional ingredients for the paste can include spices such as turmeric, pepper, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, and cumin, or other ingredients such as boiled fermented fish, and fingerroot. Ingredients are traditionally ground together with a mortar and pestle, though increasingly with an electric food processor. With many curries, the paste is first stir-fried in cooking oil before other components are added into the dish. This allows certain flavors in the spices and other ingredients in the curry paste to develop that cannot be released at the lower temperature of boiling water.
Thai food curry pastes can be made at home from the bare ingredients, bought freshly made at markets in Thailand, or they can be had packaged at shops and supermarkets.
Most Thai curries are made with meat, fish or shellfish as their main ingredient. Vegetables and fruit, but also certain tree leaves, flowers, and banana can be added. Ingredients in Thai food curry recipes are dictated by regional and seasonal availability. Both pork and chicken are easily available in Thailand, and so are many varieties of fish, and shellfish, both freshwater species from the many rivers, lakes and rice paddies, as well as saltwater species from the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. Other traditional ingredients in Thai food curry recipes include frogs, snakes, snails, wild birds and game, such as deer and wild boar. Commonly used vegetables in curries are Thai eggplant, yardlong beans, and different types of squash and pumpkins.
Fresh kaffir lime leaves, fingerroot, or fresh herbs such as Thai basil are often added to Thai curries. Kaffir lime leaves are often cooked along with the other ingredients but fresh herbs such as Thai basil are not added until the last moment to preserve the full taste and serve as a contrasting note to curry flavors. Fish sauce is used when cooking the curry, but it is also available at the table as a condiment. Sliced green sour chillies, sugar, and salt are also available at the table for those that prefer their curries more salty and spicy. Besides lime juice, tamarind juice can also be used as the souring agent for some Thai food curry recipes. To achieve the most fragrance from the ingredients in a curry paste, the curry paste is often first fried together with vegetable oil or coconut oil that has separated from the coconut cream, before adding in the other ingredients.
Popular Thai curries
- Gaeng kari, or yellow curry.
- Gaeng khae, a curry of northern Thai cuisine.
- Gaeng khiao wan, or green curry.
- Gaeng pa, or jungle curry, in addition to the curry paste, uses whatever is available in nature.
- Gaeng phet, or red curry.
- Gaeng som, or sour curry, with every region having its own variety.
- Gaeng matsaman, or Muslim curry.
- Khao soi, a Burmese influenced curry noodle soup from northern Thailand.
- Phanaeng, Penang curry, is creamy and generally mild.
- Phat phrik khing , or stir-fried chili ginger, but this Thai curry actually does not contain ginger.
Cooking Thai food is easy. You can watch our videos on my YouTube channel for easy Thai food recipes. Perhaps your first attempt did not turn out like the ones in pictures or taste like at the restaurant. Well, do not give up on cooking Thai food. Some Thai dishes may seem difficult because of a long list of ingredients and instructions. Thai cooking is all about ingredients and preparation. The secret is to have all the ingredients ready before starting to cook. Always use fresh ingredients and abundant vegetables, exotic fruit, seafood, and add a nice decoration such a flower on the dish. You can watch our video with examples of Thai food decorations.
Ingredients are the most important part of authentic Thai cooking. If you live in Thailand or in Southeast Asia, finding fresh Thai ingredients is easy. But if you live somewhere else, finding fresh ingredients can be difficult or troublesome especially for those who do not live in a city. If you decide to make Thai dishes, first invest a little of your time getting to know the ingredients. Then find the nearest Asian grocery store. If you like, call to see if they carry ingredients you are looking for. You could also order some ingredients online and save your driving time. If you cannot find fresh ingredients, try frozen and canned foods. In my opinion, most frozen products are the next best thing to fresh food. However, always try your best to find fresh produce, as it will be a good start to cooking authentic Thai dishes.
To prepare Thai food, you will need a good wok, a mid-sized pot, and a mid to large mortar. It is easier to cook Thai food using gas stoves. In Thailand, gas stoves are commonly used. Electric stoves are uncommon and not very popular because heat may not be distributed evenly. However, as you can see in my videos, we use an electric stove to cook our food. You can use either gas or electric with my recipes. Regarding the mortar, it depends on one’s desire. If you are going to cook Thai dishes very often, having a mortar will be very handy in your kitchen. Otherwise, using typical kitchen tools like a knife and cutting board can accomplish the same goal. Food processors or blenders offer another option when it comes to making pastes.
Preparation is also one of the keys to authentic Thai cooking. As mentioned above, Thai food focuses largely on ingredients and preparation. Preparation, in particular, is essential to authentic Thai food. You will spend more time preparing ingredients than you actually spend cooking. For instance, it may take about 30 minutes to prepare all the ingredients for a Thai curry, but you only spend about 15 minutes cooking. A typical Thai dinner consists of 4-5 communal dishes. It may take up to 2 hours to prepare all ingredients, but only 1 hour to make. Thais like their meat in bite-size pieces. Fresh vegetables require time to wash, cut and maybe pad dry. Pounding spices and fresh herbs are also common for many dishes. Don’t be discouraged by this because, after preparation, you will enjoy all these wonderful Thai dishes and impressed everyone with your cooking.
About jose on demand
jose on demand is a channel about our passion for food, cooking, travel, and lifestyle.
Watch all my videos for great food and travel experiences with Jose Lopez @joseondemand
Canon XA11 Professional Camcorder
► Please become a Patreon. Visit my Patreon page
► Please donate through PayPal so we can continue this project