A Guide to Thai Curries You NEED to Try!
Thai cuisine is famous all over the world, and with good reason. Whether you like it spicy and fiery or mellow and fragrant, there’s a Thai curry for everyone just waiting to be discovered. Our guide to Thai curries will cover it all, but don’t blame us if you get hungry halfway through reading!
Ask anyone what they love about Thailand, and it won’t be long before food is mentioned. Often, it’s right at the top of the list! With its mix of cheap and cheerful street food, sumptuous barbecued seafood and crunchy fried insect snacks, eating here is never boring.
The real stand-out stars of the show, though, are the curries. Colored all the different shades of the rainbow and with a diverse range of spices to boot, they can take you on a culinary tour of the land of smiles. Here’s our guide to the best curries that Thailand has to offer.
Thai Green Curry: The Classic One
You may have had this from your local takeaway, but don’t be fooled. Eating this cooked in the traditional way in Thailand is an amazing experience which leaves lackluster western interpretations to shame! The green color comes from the spicy green chili base, and the creaminess comes from the lashings of coconut milk that are added on top. Throw in some fresh vegetables and some chicken or prawns and you have a fresh, hot flavor sensation. The traditional and best!
Thai Red Curry: The Savory One
Red curry is primarily made from- yes, you guessed it- red chilis! Spices are crushed down with lemongrass and ginger to create a rich paste that’s then combined with the chilis and fried off with fish paste. Coconut milk brings a touch of creaminess and the odd kaffir lime leaf gives a bit of tang. Red curry is a bit less spicy than its green counterpart so it’s a good way to ease your way into Thai cuisine.
Thai Yellow Curry: The Rich One
Continuing our tour of the rainbow of Thai curries, yellow curry is a bit different. Instead of a chili base, this one has more of a nod to Indian cookery with a blend of mustard seeds, nutmeg and kaffir lime being added to turmeric for a very different flavor profile. Richness is bumped up with coconut cream as well as coconut milk being added in. Modern chefs might call this fusion cooking- we just call it delicious!
Penang Curry: The Nutty One
Originally formulated in nearby Malaysia, Penang curry is a nut-flavored delight. Its base ingredients are similar to the red curry described above, but a satay-style peanut sauce is added to create a milder, more mellow taste which is great with a bit of chicken and baby corn thrown in. You might not see this one on every menu but grab the opportunity to try it when you can, you won’t regret it.
Another Indian-style curry, massaman is a great choice if you want to feel healthy and virtuous. Potatoes and vegetables are added to this light and mild sauce, with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg giving a real depth of flavour. The ubiquitous coconut milk is added near the end of the cooking time, along with kaffir lime leaves and a sprinkling of peanuts. This is a speciality in central and Southern Thailand which shouldn’t be missed.
PS: At Bodega Bangkok, we actually hired one of our in-house chefs specifically for their incredible massaman curry so give it a shot!
The Choices of Thai Curries are Endless
There are as many versions of these Thai curries as there are food stalls in Thailand, and they’re all good. One of the great joys in life is trying as many as you can so what are you waiting for? Grab a spoon and get stuck in! It’s also worth noting that pretty much all Thai curries can be made vegetarian, you just need to know how to order it! If you fit into that category, you might want to check out our 15 minute guide to practical Thai phrases.