Photography Credit: Elizabeth Stark
Few dishes are as satisfying as a freshly made green curry.
The curry paste itself, made here with fresh cilantro stems, lemongrass, shallot, chilies, and ginger, is a treat to inhale.
Made into an easy rich curry dish with chicken, coconut milk, fresh herbs, and lime, you’ll have a stunning dish to admire, smell, and taste.
Fresh curry paste requires home cooks to source a few obscure ingredients, but the prep is quite simple. The reward for this work lies in the flavor – fresh green curry has a vibrant flavor that a store-bought paste just can’t match.
Makrut (aka kaffir) lime leaves will likely be the trickiest ingredient to find. They lend a ton a of citrusy pop to the curry paste. They are available in many specialty stores mixed in with the fresh spices that are sold in clam shells. There’s really no substitution for this ingredient, so just leave them out if you have trouble finding them.
For ease, this recipe uses skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Even though they are without skin, I like to sear the chicken thighs at the start of cooking to render some of the fat and give the chicken some color and flavor.
Thai Green Curry Chicken Recipe
You can substitute 2 heaping tablespoons of store-bought green curry paste for the homemade paste in this recipe.
You can also substitute regular sweet basil if Thai basil is hard to find.
For the green curry paste:
- 2 teaspoons cumin seed, lightly toasted
- 2 teaspoons coriander seed, lightly toasted
- 2 medium mild green chilies, seeded and chopped
- 1 medium shallot, chopped
- 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- Zest of 1 lime
- 4 fresh makrut (kaffir) lime leaves, torn
- 1 5-inch piece lemongrass, pale yellow portion only, chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro stems (reserve the leaves for the curry)
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
For the chicken curry:
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 shallot, sliced thin
- 1 can whole coconut milk, shaken
- 1 medium bell pepper, cut into strips (or use a mix of colors as I did here)
- 1/2 pound green beans, ends trimmed
- 1/4 cup chopped Thai basil leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 4 large lime wedges, to serve
- Cooked white or brown rice, to serve (optional)
1 Toast the spices for the curry paste: Set a small skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and toast, shaking the pan often until the spices have darkened slightly and are fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
Set aside to cool, and then grind with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder.
2 Make the green curry paste: Pulse to combine the cumin, coriander seed, and remaining curry paste ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Scrape down sides, then process continuously until the mixture is smooth. Spoon into a container with a lid and refrigerate until needed.
This paste is best used right away, but will keep in the fridge for 3 days; it makes enough for two recipes and can also be frozen.
3 Sear the chicken: Salt the chicken on both sides, then slice across the grain into 1/2-inch thick strips. Set a large skillet over high heat. Add the coconut oil, and then chicken.
Sear until golden on all sides, about 5 minutes total. (It’s fine if the chicken is not totally cooked through at this point.) Transfer the chicken to a plate.
4 Prepare the coconut curry: Lower the heat to medium high. Add shallot and cook for 1 minute. Stir in 2 heaping tablespoons of the green curry paste and cook 1 minute more.
Add 1/4 cup of the coconut milk, stirring well to scrape up any brown bits. Then add remaining coconut milk and bring mixture to a gentle boil.
5 Simmer the curry with chicken and veggies: Add chicken pieces, sliced peppers, and green beans. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a gentle simmer for 20 minutes.
At the end of cook time, stir in cilantro and basil.
6 Serve the curry: Serve over rice. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and a lime wedge.
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