Authentic Thai yellow curry with chicken is a delicious recipe. It's mild with a savory and creamy sauce of coconut cream, yellow potatoes, and chicken. This recipe is super simple, using only a few ingredients with minimal steps. It's perfect as a go-to dish for a busy weeknight meal. You can whip up for your family in less than 30 minutes!
What is Thai Yellow Curry?
Thai Yellow curry is one of the more popular dishes outside of Thailand. The curry paste is made from several aromatic spices and herbs, including dried peppers, shrimp paste, and curry powder. The bright yellow color yellow is from the ground or fresh turmeric. A fragrant rhizome that belongs to the ginger family. These ingredients are either mixed in a mortar and pestle or in a food processor to form a smooth paste that is then used to make many Thai curry recipes.
Yellow curry is Thai is Kaeng Kari, and Kaeng Kari Kai means Thai yellow chicken curry. There are many variations of yellow curry recipes. But today, we are making a simple but delicious curry with chicken.
Why this recipe works
- This recipe requires very few ingredients with minimal steps to make it. The curry can be put together for dinner in 30 minutes or less.
- Yellow curry is milder than many other popular Thai curries, making it a good recipe to introduce to newbies intimidated by the spiciness of Thai food. I used coconut cream and coconut milk, making this recipe super creamy and mild but flavorful.
- Easily adaptable with protein choices. You can use any protein—chicken, beef, pork, seafood, and tofu.
- Make a vegetarian Thai yellow curry by omitting the chicken and adding only vegetables. Super easy, healthy, and delicious too!
- Curries make a perfect breakfast the next morning! Reheat, serve with jasmine rice or bread, then serve with over easy fry egg on top. It's the best and most hearty breakfast EVER!
Homemade or Store-bought Yellow Curry paste?
Like all the other Thai curry pastes, yellow curry pastes can be made from scratch or bought from the Asian markets. Both options are wonderful. However, if you are new to Thai cuisine, I highly recommend starting with store-bought pastes until you are familiar with the flavor profile. Try out a few different brands to see which ones you like best.
My favorite brands are Mae Ploy, Aroy D, and Maesri—all are Thai brands and can be found in most Asian markets. Similar curry recipes, I think you’ll also love them.
Ingredients for Thai Yellow Curry
To make this authentic Thai yellow curry recipe, you’ll need a few ingredients to put it all together. Below is a photo of all the key ingredients.
Thai Curry Paste. I used the Mae Ploy brand. Each brand has a different flavor profile, some saltier than others so adjust with fish sauce, sugar, coconut milk, or water to find the right balance.
Coconut milk. Coconut milk makes a great base for the yellow curry sauce
Coconut cream. Gives the curry the extra creamy coconut milk flavors.
Water. Stock is a good option to elevate the taste.
Chicken. This recipe used chicken breast, but chicken thighs will work.
Potatoes. Gold potatoes work best for this recipe. They cook fast, and the creaminess adds wonderful texture to the curry.
Bamboo shoots. Gives authentic flavor to the recipe. Soak and rinse the sliced bamboo in warm water before using.
Onion. Use shallot or red onions as a substitute.
Sugar. Use brown, white, palm sugar, honey, or agave for the sweetness.
Fish sauce. Use lightly and add more later. Some brands tend to be saltier than others.
Garnishing options. Thai chilis (to increase your spice level), Thai basil, thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves,
How to make Thai yellow curry with chicken
Step 1. In a soup pot or a medium-sized Dutch oven, heat the oil to medium-high.
Step 2. Add the coconut cream to the pot and stir well together. Wait for the sauce to boil before adding more ingredients to the pot to help extract the flavors from the curry paste and coconut cream.
Step 3. Add chicken, potatoes, onion, and bamboo. Stir together well and cook for 4-5 minutes.
Step 4. Add the entire container of coconut milk to the pot and stir well together. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Step 5. Add the brown sugar and fish sauce, and stir well. Cook for 1 minute before adding water next.
Step 6. Add the water using the emptied coconut can or cartoon. I like to get all the coconut milk out from those empty containers and get that little extra flavor. (: Cook for 2-3 more minutes until the potatoes are soft.
Step 7. Adjust the flavor here. If your curry is too salty, add a small amount of sugar and stir well. If too sweet, add a touch of salt or fish sauce to your liking. Remove from the stovetop and let cool for 10 minutes before serving over rice.
That's it! Enjoy!
Kitchen Notes & Helpful tips
- You can adjust the flavor of your curry by adding more water, sugar, coconut milk, or cream when cooking. Those ingredients will help balance out the saltiness.
- Also, the more curry paste you use, the saltier and spicier your curry will be, so make sure to use less fish sauce, as you can always add more later.
- For added natural yellow color, add a ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric to your finished curry before serving. It's fun and colorful for impressing guests. (:
- Canned bamboo shoots come in different cuts, sliced, stripped, or whole. Cut the whole into long thin bite size pieces for cooking.
- All canned bamboo shoots have brine water to preserve it. Drain the liquid, then soak the shoots warmly for 5-10 minutes to help remove the tin-like flavor.
- You can add additional vegetables for healthier options. My recipe doesn’t call for many vegetables since I wanted to keep it simple. However, you CAN easily add your favorite veggies to the recipe. My favorite vegetables are zucchini, bell peppers, eggplants, squash, carrots, water chestnuts, snap peas, and cauliflower.
Can I freeze cooked curry?
Yes. Cooked Curry freezes very well. Store the curry in air-tight containers and freeze it for 4-6 months. Freezing curry in small individual batches is perfect for meal prep, making it a perfect option for a quick, easy night dinner. Or you can freeze a large batch for a family meal, all you need is to add rice, and your dinner is ready.
Can I freeze curry and rice together?
Absolutely. Rice is excellent for freezing and can be kept in the freezer for months. Rice and curry together make the perfect pair for freezing options.
What can I substitute for bamboo shoots?
Bamboo shoots are one of those unique ingredients that you can’t substitute. It adds a unique texture to the recipe, so try not to skip it. You can find a small jar in your local grocery store in the international aisle. Either skip it entirely or use a different ingredient.
What does Thai yellow curry taste like?
Thai yellow curry is typically made with coconut milk, which adds a rich and creamy taste to the curry. It's then seasoned with fish sauce and sugar, making it savory and sweet when all mixed. The fragrant spices add a taste of warmth with the perfect amount of heat, making yellow curry a well-balanced Thai dish.
Can I use other types of starchy vegetables besides yellow potatoes?
This yellow curry recipe calls for gold potatoes. It cooks the fastest. But you can use any potatoes you like! If you use sweet potatoes, though, be sure to reduce the amount of sugar called for in the recipe. Pumpkins and squashes are also excellent substitutes, so experiment away! Just a little note, cook those starchier potatoes and squash just a bit longer to be sure they are cooked completely. Use a fork to test how tender it is, or take a small bite to see how you like the texture.
Is yellow Thai curry hotter than green?
NO. Yellow curries are typically not as spicy as Thai green or red curries. It also depends on the brands of curry pastes you use. Some are spicier than others. If making homemade curry pastes, you can control the spice level with how much dry red chili you use.
Is Thai yellow curry the same as Indian curries?
Thai yellow curries are similar to Indian curries but not quite the same. Thai yellow curry often uses coconut milk as a thick and rich base with more added vegetables making it milder and sweeter than some Indian curries.
The spices used in yellow curries like turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, and fennels are used, and these spices are often found in Southern Thai dishes, which hugely influence Malay and Indian cuisine.
More homemade Thai curry pastes to try at home
To elevate your curries, try making homemade curry paste. It's easier than you think. Check out these Thai curry pastes you can make at home.
- Authentic Thai yellow curry paste
- Authentic homemade Thai red curry paste
- Authentic Thai green curry paste
- Prik Khing curry paste
- Authentic homemade Choo Chee curry paste
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