Thai red curry recipe

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We call this red Thai curry, but it can come out more green because of all the coriander. This recipe is what I remembered from one time I made it, which Colin described as 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!

Red Thai curry

Quantities, where given, are only approximate, and are dependent on taste. Replacing the meat with vegetables, tofu, young jackfruit or seitan gives a vegan dish.
Course Main dish
Cuisine Thai
Diet Vegan
Servings 2


  • cooking oil a little
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds crushed, or slightly less ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds crushed, or slightly less ground cumin
  • 1 stalk lemon grass tough outer layer(s) removed and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped finely or crushed
  • 1–2 tsp galangal fresh or from a jar, or root ginger
  • 1 tbsp 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
  • 2-3 lime leaves fresh, from a jar, whatever
  • 1 bunch Thai basil fresh, from a jar, whatever
  • 2 red chillis chopped finely
  • 1/2 red pepper sliced or diced
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1–2 chicken breasts sliced, or the equivalent in chicken breast fillets, or the equivalent in duck or raw prawns, or the equivalent in vegan protein, jackfruit or other vegetables
  • 1/8 pineapple if using duck, cut into pieces
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander finely chopped


  • Warm the oil in a saucepan on a low heat and add the coriander, cumin, lemon grass, garlic, galangal, tamarind 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.
    cooking oil, 2 tsp coriander seeds, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 stalk lemon grass, 2 cloves garlic, 1–2 tsp galangal, 1 onion, 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • After a few minutes, add the rest of the onion, the lime leaves, the basil and the chilli.
    1 onion, 2-3 lime leaves, 1 bunch Thai basil, 2 red chillis
  • When the onions have softened, add the red pepper and tomatoes.
    1/2 red pepper, 1 handful cherry tomatoes
  • When the peppers and tomatoes have cooked a little, add the coconut milk and bring to the boil.
    1 tin coconut milk
  • Bring the pan to a simmer, and add the chicken, duck or prawns, then the pineapple, if using.
    1–2 chicken breasts, 1/8 pineapple
  • 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.
    1 bunch fresh coriander
  • When the meat is cooked, it is ready.
  • Thin it with a little water if you think it’s too rich and creamy.


Try using other fish, shellfish, meats or vegetables. Aubergines work well.
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, use only one chilli or use milder chillis. 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, use more chillis.
If using ground spices, add them to the pan slightly later than the larger ingredients when warming them because they can burn more easily.

I served this with:

  • Sticky Thai jasmine rice. Tip: keep the tough outer leaves of the lemon grass and put them in with the rice when cooking it.

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