Gang Gai Khao Mun (Thai Chicken Curry)


Sweet, sticky coconut rice colored and flavored with green herbs pairs with this creamy Thai chicken curry from chef Nok Suntaranon. The foundation of the curry is a vibrant from-scratch curry paste — the same one used at Kalaya in Philadelphia (one of F&W's Best New Restaurants in 2020). Making your own curry paste requires a little sourcing, but the resulting flavor is well worth the effort. The curry paste freezes well for future batches.

Gang Gai Khao Mun (Thai Chicken Curry)
Photo: Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen
Active Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 40 mins


Kalaya Curry Paste

  • cup trimmed and thinly sliced lemongrass (from 2 large stalks)

  • cup thinly sliced shallot (from 1 large [1 1/2-ounce] shallot)

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper (about 1 1/2 ounces)

  • ¼ cup peeled and thinly sliced fresh turmeric root (from 1/3 cup whole turmeric)

  • 2 tablespoons paprika

  • 1 ½ tablespoons black pepper

  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground white pepper

  • 1 tablespoon peeled and thinly sliced fresh galangal

  • ½ tablespoon ground turmeric

  • 8 garlic cloves

  • 5 makrut lime leaves

  • 3 to 4 fresh red Thai chiles

  • ¾ cup water, divided

Coconut Rice

  • 2 cups packed fresh cilantro leaves and stems (from 1 [2 1/2-ounce] bunch, trimmed) 

  • cup coconut milk (from 1 [14-ounce] can, well shaken and stirred)

  • ½ cup chopped pandan leaves (about 1 ounce) or chopped fresh cilantro

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 ½ cups uncooked jasmine white rice

  • 1 ½ cups water

  • ¼ cup sliced shallot (from 1 large [1 1/2-ounce] shallot)

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

Chicken Curry

  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar

  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste

  • 1 (13 1/2-ounce) can coconut cream, divided

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8 thighs), cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces

  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk, well shaken and stirred

  • ¼ cup fish sauce

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish

  • 3 makrut lime leaves, plus more for garnish

  • 2 fresh green long hot peppers (about 2 1/2 ounces) (such as cowhorn hot peppers), sliced (about 1 cup)


Make the Kalaya curry paste:

  1. Combine lemongrass, shallot, crushed red pepper, sliced turmeric, paprika, black pepper, white pepper, galangal, ground turmeric, garlic, lime leaves, and Thai chiles in a food processor, and process until vegetables and herbs are very finely chopped, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup water; process until mixture looks creamy (it will still be coarse), about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Scrape down sides of processor bowl, and stir mixture. With processor running, pour remaining 1/4 cup water through food chute, processing until mixture is smooth but slightly gritty and paste-like, about 2 minutes. Set aside 1/2 cup Kalaya curry paste in a small bowl. Store remaining paste in an airtight container in freezer up to 2 months.

Make the coconut rice:

  1. Process cilantro, coconut milk, pandan, sugar, and salt in a blender until very smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside. Place rice in a medium bowl, and add water to cover. Agitate rice with your fingers until water turns cloudy. Drain water, holding rice back in bowl with your hands. Repeat process until water runs clear, about 3 times. Stir together rinsed rice, blended cilantro mixture, 1 1/2 cups water, shallot, and garlic in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium, stirring occasionally. Cover and reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring bottom and edges of pan occasionally to prevent sticking, until liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let steam until rice is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Uncover; gently fluff rice using a fork. (Rice will be sticky.)

While coconut rice cooks, make the chicken curry:

  1. Heat a medium-size heavy-bottomed pot or a Dutch oven over medium-low. Add palm sugar, shrimp paste, reserved 1/2 cup Kalaya curry paste, and half of the coconut cream (about 3/4 cup), and cook, stirring often, until curry sauce is fragrant and bubbly and palm sugar is dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in chicken pieces and coconut milk. Increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Gently boil, stirring occasionally, until chicken is tender and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers at least 165°F, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in fish sauce and salt. Stir in remaining half of coconut cream (about 3/4 cup). Remove pan from heat. Stir in basil and makrut lime leaves.

  2. Top chicken curry evenly with long hot peppers; garnish with additional basil and lime leaves. Serve alongside coconut rice.

Make Ahead

Kalaya curry paste can be stored in an airtight container in freezer up to 2 months.

Suggested Pairing

Citrusy, bright dry Riesling: Marietta Old Vine Riesling

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