Thai green chicken curry

Thai green curry.
Thai green curry. Photo: Murdoch Books

This dish is a classic of Thai cooking. It is hot and fragrant from the curry paste and perfumed with makrut (kaffir lime) leaves and Thai basil. Green pastes can vary, but they should be pungent rather than piercingly hot, and built around chillies, galangal, coriander and lemon grass.


Green curry paste

1 tsp white peppercorns

2 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp shrimp paste

1 tsp sea salt

4 stems, white part only, lemon grass, finely sliced

2 tsp galangal, chopped

1 makrut (kaffir lime) lea, finely shredded

1 tbsp coriander root, chopped

5 red Asian shallots, chopped

10 cloves garlic, crushed

16 chopped long green chillies, seeded


500ml (2 cups) coconut cream (note: do not shake the tins)

2 tbsp shaved palm sugar (jaggery)

2 tbsp fish sauce

4 makrut (kaffir lime) leaves, finely shredded

1 kg chicken thigh or breast fillets, cut into thick strips

200g bamboo shoot, cut into thick strips

100g snake beans, cut into 5cm lengths

1 handful Thai basil


1. Dry-fry the peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and shrimp paste wrapped in foil in a frying pan over medium–high heat for 2–3 minutes, or until fragrant. Allow to cool. Using a mortar with a pestle, or a spice grinder, crush or grind the peppercorns, coriander and cumin to a powder.

2. Put the shrimp paste and ground spices with the remaining curry paste ingredients in a food processor, or in a mortar with a pestle, and process or pound to a smooth paste.

3. Put the thick coconut cream from the top of the tins in a saucepan, bring to a rapid simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and cook for 5–10 minutes, or until the mixture 'splits' (the oil starts to separate).

4. Add 4 tablespoons of the made green curry paste, then simmer for 15 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the palm sugar, fish sauce and makrut leaves to the pan.

5. Stir in the remaining coconut cream and the chicken, bamboo shoots and beans, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Stir in the Thai basil and serve.