Thai red chicken curry

We call this red Thai curry, but it can come out more green because of all the coriander. This recipe is what I remember from the last time I made it, which my husband said was delicious. I didn’t make a note of what exactly I did, but here goes – and don’t blame me if it’s dreadful – or unauthentic, for that matter!

Note that quantities, where given, are only approximate, and are dependent on taste.


Serves 2.

  • a little cooking oil
  • 2 tsps coriander seeds, crushed, or slightly less ground coriander
  • 2 tsps cumin seeds, crushed, or slightly less ground cumin
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, tough outer layer(s) removed and finely chopped
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 or 2 tsps galangal (fresh or from a jar) or root ginger
  • 1 tblsp tamarind paste, prepared according to packet, or one whole fresh tamarind, peeled, stoned and chopped
  • 1 onion, half sliced or chunkily diced, half finely diced
  • 2 or 3 lime leaves (fresh, from a jar, whatever)
  • Thai basil (fresh, from a jar, whatever)
  • 2 red chillis, chopped finely
  • half a red pepper, sliced or diced
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1 or 2 chicken breasts, sliced, or the equivalent in chicken breast fillets, whole, or the equivalent duck or raw prawns
  • 1/8 of a pineapple, if using duck, cut into pieces
  • bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped


  1. Warm the oil in a saucepan on a low heat and add the coriander, cumin, lemon grass, garlic, galangal and finely chopped onion. This is to warm the oils in the spices and bring out the flavour. It’s important they don’t burn.
  2. After a few minutes, add the rest of the onion, the lime leaves, the basil and the chilli.
  3. When the onions have softened, add the red pepper and tomatoes.
  4. When the peppers and tomatoes have cooked a little, add the coconut milk and bring to the boil.
  5. Bring the pan to a simmer, and add the chicken, duck or prawns, then the pineapple, if using.
  6. When the meat is almost cooked (the time will depend on the size of the pieces; prawns don’t take very long at all), add the fresh coriander and stir through.
  7. When the meat is cooked, it is ready.
  8. Thin it with a little water if you think it’s too rich and creamy.

To serve

Serve with sticky Thai jasmine rice.


  • Try using other fish, shellfish, meats or vegetables.
  • Keep the tough outer leaves of the lemon grass and put them in with the rice when cooking it for extra aroma.
  • Two birdeye chillis, with seeds, produces a curry that doesn’t burn your mouth off when you eat it, but is nicely tingly on the tongue. For less heat, try deseeding the chillis, using one chilli or using a milder chilli. Don’t take too much of the heat away, though, because it’s an important part of the dish. The coconut milk counteracts the heat, anyway. For more heat, just use more chillis.
  • If using ground spices, add these to the pan slightly later than the larger ingredients when warming them because they can burn more easily.
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