Thai Green Curry with Chicken Recipe (Gaeng Kiew Waan Gai)
The first time I cooked a bowl of curry was the first time I had tasted a bowl of curry. When eating Thai food at home and, well, in Thailand, I had always avoided curries. I assumed they were too hot. I assumed they were too spicy. I assumed, I guess, that I wouldn’t like the flavor. I’d instead opt, always, for a big plate of noodles or a stir fry. Give me pad thai. Give me pad see-ew. Give me cashew chicken. But never curry.
My first time traveling in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I took a Thai cooking class. At that class we learned to make many different Thai foods across many different courses. And one of those courses was curries. We could choose whichever of three curry recipes we wanted to make: green curry, yellow curry, or jungle curry. I chose the Thai green curry with chicken recipe (Gaeng Kiew Waan Gai) because, I suppose, it sounded the least offensive. I think I equated, in my curry-virgin mind, the red jungle curry with heat and the yellow with sourness. Green sounded rather neutral.
Cooking green curry involved spending a seemingly endless time grinding seeds and spices with a mortar and pestle until they merged together into a thick, olive-toned paste. That paste was then boiled with coconut cream and coconut milk to form the base for this Thai green curry with chicken and eggplant and onion and basil. The curry was creamy and spicy and salty and a little bit sweet. And, while it may have been the first curry I had ever made, had ever tasted, it was certainly not the last.
Thai Green Curry with Chicken (Gaeng Kiew Waan Gai)
Green Curry with Chicken (Gaeng Kiew Waan Gai)
- 2 Tbsp. green curry paste (packaged or homemade, see below)
- 100 g sliced chicken breast
- ½ cup coconut cream
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 tsp grated palm sugar
- 2 eggplants, quartered
- ¼ cup pea eggplant (Ma Kheau Phuang)
- ¼ cup sliced onion
- 1 large red chili, cut lengthwise and seeded
- 2 stems sweet basil
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
Green Curry Paste (Nam Prik Gaeng Kiew Waan)
- 4 big green chillies
- 1 Tbsp chopped lemongrass
- 1 tsp chopped galangal
- 1 Tbsp chopped shallot
- 1 tsp chopped garlic
- 1 tsp chopped finger root or galingale (Kra-Chai)
- ½ tsp chopped kaffir lime rind
- ½ tsp roasted coriander seeds
- ½ tsp roasted cumin seeds
- ½ tsp peppercorns
- ½ tsp shrimp paste
- ¼ tsp salt
- Make the green curry paste: Put all of the seeds in a mortar and grind with pestle into powder. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the shrimp paste) and pound together until everything is combined and smooth. Add shrimp paste and continue to pound to mix well. Put in jar and chill until needed (up to one month).
- Heat and reduce the coconut cream over medium heat. When it is boiling, add green curry paste and stir for a minute until fragrant.
- Add sliced chicken breast. Cook until almost cooked through. Add coconut milk, fish sauce, and palm sugar and bring to a boil.
- Add the eggplants, onion, and seasoning. Simmer on medium heat until the eggplants are cooked.
- Stir in sweet basil leaves and kaffir lime leaves and remove from heat.
- Serve garnished with red chillies with steamed jasmine rice.