Thai Red Chicken Curry


From time to time, we have requests from our lovely readers for Thai curry. There are a quite a few types of curry that can be adapted to be keto-friendly. For today’s we post will talk about the most common curry you would find in any Thai restaurant, Red Curry.


Like all ethnic food, Thai food outside Thailand is always different from food you get in Thailand. The main reason is that some ingredients are not available outside the country and another reason being that the food are adjusted to suit foreigners’ taste bud. I am by no means an expert cook. The recipe given here, to the best of my knowledge, is how Thai curry is made. It might be different from what you have made or tasted, or maybe not. We have found that even in Thailand, the food these days are very sweet. There is sugar in everything. In this recipe we are trying to make it keto-friendly without compromising its authenticity.

If I were to make a proper curry, I would have to use fresh coconut milk and make curry paste from scratch. (I’ll be happy to post a recipe for curry paste if anyone would like it.) As of now let’s make it simple and use what’s readily available in your local stores. One word of advice is for you to try to buy products that are made in Thailand. They are of better quality and you get a more authentic flavor.

This curry recipe is just a basic guideline. The amount of ingredients can vary according to your preference. Nothing is written in stone. Your ingredients will be different from mine. Especially, when you use store-bought curry paste, not all two are the same so just use this recipe as a guide and feel free to make adjustment to suit.

The long and short of our curry ingredients are down below.

Let me direct your attention to that bunch of little green things on top of the picture below. They are pea eggplants. They might not be available in your area so please feel free to use any type of eggplant you can find. The common variety found here are in the picture below. All can be used in curry but the larger the eggplant, the milder the flavor.

The green leaves you see are sweet basil which is crucial. Thai curry is not complete without these beauties. You don’t need much because a little bit goes a long way. You can use your normal basil but it will not taste the same. Sweet basil has a distinctive aroma with a touch of licorice scent. It has purple flowers and the stem is also purple. Mine looks a bit sad because it’s been sitting out for a few days.

I threw in a few kaffir lime leaves and peppercorns here as well but it’s optional. There is chicken breast meat for convenience’s sake. But for more flavor you can use chicken thighs or drumstick on the bone. Traditionally, people would use whole chicken and cut them up in small pieces but who has the time to do that these days? You see we have a carton of coconut cream (250 ml). If your coconut milk comes in a can, it’s fine too. When you buy coconut milk or cream, pay attention to the label and try to get the one that contains no emulsifiers or thickening agents. You will find out why later in the post.

Above are two most popular brands of coconut milk/cream. We prefer the one on the right. It said ‘coconut cream’ on the carton. It’s somewhat thicker than regular coconut milk but won’t solidify when refrigerated. If you use something similar to the one on the right, you might need a little bit more coconut milk, maybe 25% more.

Once you get all your ingredients ready, let’s get started. Once again this is how Thai people make curry. It might be different from what you’ve seen on TV or read elsewhere. First we have to boil down the coconut milk on low heat till it reduces and turns into oil. Then you use that oil to sautée curry paste till well combined. The pictures below show the progression of the process. It goes counter-clockwise, starting from the bottom left.

If your coconut cream contains thickening agents, it will turn into goo instead of oil. In that case you would need to add 1 – 2 tablespoon of coconut oil to help it along because you need the oil to sautée the curry paste.

Once you have got your curry paste well mix with the oil, turn up the heat and in goes the chicken. You won’t have to thoroughly cook the chicken. Just sautée till it is opaque then pour in the rest of the coconut milk. Crank up the heat to high and let it come to rolling boil for a few minutes to make sure chicken is cooked (notice the layer of fat floating on top, that’s a good sign) then add the eggplants. Let it come to boil again and at this point, give your curry a little bit of taste. We normally don’t add much salt because our curry paste has a fair bit of salt in it already. If it’s not salty enough then yo add salt, or fish sauce if you like. I personally don’t like fish sauce so I would normally use chicken stock cube. According to my dad, red curry would need no sweetener because the coconut milk already has enough sweetness in it. But I sometimes sneaked a smidgin of palm sugar in it to balance the flavor. I add no sweetener to this recipe but it’s your choice. You need to recalculate your macros if you do.

We don’t cook our eggplants for too long because we like them crunchy. Once the curry comes to boil again you would add all the herbs and turn off the heat. Just press all the fresh herbs down and let the residual heat cook them through.

And there you have it. We don’t add any other vegetables of any kind but if you like your veggies, feel free to make it your own. The color of our curry is not bright red due to the curry paste we used. We got ours from the lady at the market who makes her own curry paste. Different brands gives out different colors but if kept for too long the paste will turn dark in color.

I hope you find this post helpful. There is so much more to curry making. This is only a rough guide. I will probably need to do a separate post just on curry alone. Please let me know if you are interested in learning more. I don’t know everything but I’m happy to share with you what I know.


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