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    Thai Curried Chicken

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    Thai Curried Chicken

    This is adapted from a recipe in David Thompson's fascinating book, Thai Food (Pavilion; £25). The spice paste recipe makes more than you need but is awkward to make in smaller quantities so keep the remainder for a few days, covered, in the fridge. Use an electric coffee grinder to grind the spices as it's difficult to get a smooth paste in a blender.

    • Preparation time: 45 minutes
    • Cooking time: 20 minutes
    • Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes 60 minutes 5 minutes

    Serves: 2


    • Curry
    • 2 tbsp roasted, unsalted peanuts
    • 400ml can coconut milk
    • 1 tbsp demerara sugar
    • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
    • 300g skinless chicken breasts or thigh fillets, sliced
    • 3 tbsp fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
    • 4 dried kaffir lime leaves, snipped into fine shreds
    • 1 long red chilli, finely sliced
    • Handful of basil leaves
    • Spice paste
    • 6 dried Kashmiri chillies
    • ½ tsp coriander seeds
    • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
    • 10 white peppercorns
    • 2 blades mace
    • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
    • 2 tbsp finely chopped lemon grass
    • 1 tsp finely grated lime zest
    • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh coriander
    • 3 tbsp finely chopped shallots
    • 4 tbsp finely chopped garlic
    • Pinch of salt


    1. Start with the spice paste. Deseed the chillies. Put them in a bowl, cover with hot water and leave to soak. Meanwhile, put the coriander and cumin seeds in a frying pan, without oil, over a medium-low heat. Toast them until they smell fragrant, then set aside until needed.
    2. Meanwhile, grind the roasted peanuts for the curry in a small, electric grinder to form a fine but not oily meal. Measure out 1 tbsp of the ground peanuts and set aside (you won't need the rest).
    3. Drain the chillies, pat dry and roughly chop. Grind the toasted cumin and coriander along with the peppercorns and mace in the grinder. Tip out of the grinder, mix with the chopped chillies, the ginger, lemon grass, lime zest, fresh coriander, shallots, garlic and salt. Whiz the mixture into a fine paste, in batches, in the grinder.
    4. Heat the coconut milk in a wide saucepan over a medium heat. As soon as it begins to simmer, add 3 tbsp of the curry paste and simmer briskly for about 10 minutes, by which time the coconut milk should have reduced to a thick sauce and the spices should smell gorgeous. Season carefully with sugar and fish sauce, adding a little of each at a time - it's important to get the balance just right. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the chillies begin to release their colour, turning the sauce a pinky colour, then add the ground peanuts and simmer for another minute until the curry looks oily. Add the chicken and cook for 5-7 minutes or until cooked through. Add a little water if necessary.
    5. Once the chicken is cooked, stir in the ginger, kaffir lime leaves, red chilli and basil leaves. Remove from the heat. Serve with steamed Thai rice and stir-fried vegetables. You will find the flavour of the curry develops if it is left for a couple of hours, then reheated before serving.

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