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A bowl of jungle curry with baby corn, Thai eggplant, long beans, and chicken, with a plate of jasmine rice on the side.
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Thai Jungle Curry with Chicken

A water-based curry bursting with so many veggies and herbs it's like a "jungle" in a bowl. With no coconut milk this curry is light and healthy, but still satisfying because of the bold flavours. Oh and it's HOT.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Thai
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Equipment

  • mortar and pestle

Ingredients

Quick-Fix Jungle Curry Paste

  • 4-5 Tbsp red curry paste
  • 3-5 green Thai chilies or as many as you can take
  • 2 Tbsp fingerroot (grachai) chopped
  • 2 Tbsp lemongrass thinly sliced

Jungle Curry

  • 2 Tbsp neutral oil
  • 12 oz boneless skinless chicken thigh cut into strips
  • cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1-2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp finely chopped palm sugar
  • 4.2 oz long beans 2-inch pieces
  • 8 baby corn bite-sized pieces
  • 4 Thai eggplant cut in 4 or 6 wedges
  • 2 stems young green peppercorns (optional)
  • ¼ cup julienned fingerroot (grachai) (optional)
  • 4-5 makrut lime leaves
  • 2 spur chilies julienned (see note)
  • 1 cup holy basil leaves
  • 1 ½ Tbsp toasted rice powder (see note)

Jungle Curry Paste from Scratch

  • 0.7 oz mild dried chilies such as guajillo or puya
  • 3-5 green Thai chilies or as many as you can handle
  • 1 tsp coarse grain salt
  • ¼ tsp white peppercorns
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, bottom half only thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp galangal finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fingerroot (grachai) finely chopped
  • 1 tsp makrut lime zest finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cilantro roots or stems finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp shallots finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fermented shrimp paste (gapi)

Instructions

For the quick-fix jungle curry paste:

  • If you don't want to make it too spicy, remove the seeds and pith from the green chilies, then pound them in a mortar and pestle until fine. Add grachai and lemongrass and pound into a fine paste.
  • Add the red curry paste and pound to mix. The curry paste will last in the fridge for a few days and can be frozen for a few months.

For the curry:

  • In a heavy-bottomed pot, add the oil and the curry paste and saute over medium heat for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the chicken and toss with the curry paste, then add the stock and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the chicken is fork tender.
  • Once the chicken is done, add the sugar and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce and stir to mix. Add the eggplant, long beans, baby corn, young peppercorns, and makrut lime leaves and simmer for a few more minutes until the vegetables are done to your liking.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the holy basil and spur chilies or bell pepper, using just the residual heat to gently cook and wilt them. Taste and adjust seasoning with more fish sauce as needed.
  • Serve with jasmine rice, enjoy!

For from-scratch jungle curry paste:

  • Grind the dried chilies into a powder using a coffee grinder.
  • In a heavy-duty mortar and pestle, add the green chilies, salt, and white peppercorns; pound into a fine paste.
  • Add the lemongrass, galangal, grachai, makrut lime zest, and cilantro roots; pound into a fine paste.
  • Add the ground chilies and pound to mix.
  • Add the shallots and garlic and pound into a fine paste.

Video

Notes

  • Spur chilies or prik chee fa are large mild red peppers which we use to add colour to many dishes. You can substitute red bell pepper or any other medium-to-mild red peppers.
  • To make toasted rice powder, simply toast 1 ½ Tbsp uncooked jasmine or sticky rice in a dry saute pan over high heat, stirring constantly, until it has a deep brown colour. Then grind in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.