Green Curry in Chiang Mai Thailand

Green Curry

Thailand is one of the easiest countries in Southeast Asia to travel to. It is relatively safe and has been basically set up as a first-stop for visitors to travel Southeast Asia and take off their training wheels. As far as food is concerned, there is a huge variety and contrary to popular belief, the fresh fruit there is worth trying.

traditional thai green curry

Cooking up a Curry

It’s also worth taking one of the many cooking classes offered in Thailand. I took a class with Smart Cook in Chiang Mai, weaseled my way into the kitchens of places that I stayed, and in homes of people that seemed to have an interest in food.

Other than Pad Thai, Green Curry is probably one of the first Thai Entrees someone will eat. It looks like a bowl of brightly colored green soup with little slices of red chillie on top.

Green curry is called “Kaeng Kiao Wan” in Thai and means literally “Soup Green Sweet”. Mirauti, author of the High Heel Gourmet, talks about a misunderstanding that Green Curry should be sweet. However, the word sweet is in reference to the green color. She is very diligent in her recipe creation and research and her blog is worth a read.

High Heel Gourmet also suggests that to retain the bright green color of the curry, you should puree the Thai Basil in water and then strain out the leaves. In addition, you would only add it after the curry is not being heated any longer as the heat can brown the bright green color.

traditional thai green curry

Curry paste ready to go!

It is important to know that the “Kiao” or Green part of green curry comes from the chillies and not anything else. The many times I have cooked green curry I generally still add Thai Basil, but I chop it up and put it right into the curry paste. I have not taken the time to puree it separately… yet.

The ingredients to this curry are not fixed and how it is seasoned greatly depends on who is cooking it. It is most often served along with rice but can also be served with round rice noodles or Roti. Also, the protein in the dish does not have to be chicken. It is also made with fish balls, pork, beef and tofu.This recipe tastes great and is the same one I learned to cook while in Thailand and serves 2, so you can double or triple the measurements accordingly. Once you make the Curry Paste as below, taste it. You can then change the heat or spiciness of the final dish by varying the amount of Green Curry Paste added. Enjoy!
Green Curry paste

  • 7 Thai chillies green
    • Add more if you want to increase the spice, but be warned: they build heat during the process and seasoning.
  •  ½ ounce Thai basil
    • This adds some flavor but also makes the color pop.
  • 1 tsp chopped Galangal root
    • This is often call Thai ginger, but do not be mistaken it does not taste the same as ginger.
  • 2 Tbsp chopped Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp chopped Shallots
  • 1 Tbsp chopped Lemon Grass
  • 1 tsp chopped Coriander root
    • Cilantro and Coriander are the same thing! Cilantro is the Spanish word for Coriander.
  • ½ tsp chopped Kaffir Lime peel
    • I often can not find these ugly little limes and have to settle for a normal looking lime when in the US.
  • 1 tsp chopped Turmeric
    • If you can find fresh Turmeric root use it if you can’t put in ½ tsp powder.
  • ½ tsp roasted Peppercorns
  • 2 tsp roasted Coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp roasted Cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Shrimp Paste
    • People say this doesn’t have to be refrigerated, but it stinks so much! I keep it in my refrigerator in a plastic bag.
traditional thai green curry

turmeric far left and small ginger center and Galangal right

  1. If the Peppercorns, Coriander Seeds, and Cumin seeds don’t come roasted, roast them over a medium heat until browned slightly.
  2. Put peppercorns, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds in a mortar and pound well. You have to pound out all the hard stuff first, or you will not get a consistent paste. Using a spice grinder also works. If you have to use any additional dry spices put them in at this time too.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, except the shrimp paste, and pound well until mixed. If you are doing this in a mortar it will be rather hard to get a fine paste quality. If you are creating this in a spice grinder, making the paste is much less of a work out.
  4. Add shrimp paste and pound until fine and smooth.
  5. Your paste is ready and you can make your curry. You can also store this paste for about two weeks in the fridge and it will still be awesome.
traditional thai green curry

Ingredents Preped and ready to add

Green Curry with Chicken

  • 1 red Thai chili sliced thin
  • ½ lbs boneless Chicken Breasts
  • 2 ounces cut up or sliced Eggplant
    • In Thailand you will most likely see curry made with a small, green colored egg plant. There is more than one variety. Use the one that tastes best to you.
  • 2 Kaffir Lime leaves, torn in half
  • 6 Sweet Basil leaves
  • 1 ½ cup Coconut Milk
  • 1 ½ Tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
    • Both the sugar and the fish sauce are used to flavor the dish. You may not want to follow the amounts in the recipe exactly. Sugar is your sweet and the fish sauce is both umami and salty flavor.
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
    • Another thing that internet says does not need to be refrigerated. (I refrigerate)
  • 1 Tbsp Green Curry Paste
    • More if you want to increase the spicy!
traditional thai green curry

traditional Thai Green Curry

  1. Put oil in a wok on low heat. Add Green Curry Paste bring it to a simmer and then some Coconut Milk to stop it from burning. Stir until fragrant.
  2. Add Chicken and stir until Chicken is cooked.
  3. Add the remaining Coconut Milk, Eggplant, and Kaffir Lime leaves
  4. Season with Sugar and Fish Sauce to taste
  5. Sprinkle with sweet basil leaves and turn off heat
  6. Garnish with red chillies sliced thin

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