Succulent chicken cooked in a thin sauce with vegetables and aromatics. This authentic Dairy-free curry recipe is mild and fragrant, made with coconut milk.
Compared to an Indian curry, Thai curry has fewer spices but a greater number of aromatics. This creates a fresher, brighter style of curry. A good Thai Green curry is a perfect balance of hot (chillies), sour (lime juice), sweet (coconut sugar) and salty (fish sauce). To me, the cornerstone to the dish is fresh lemongrass, which provides delicate and fragrant citrus notes. Their unique flavour cannot be replicated by using dried or pickled stalks from a jar, so you may need to make a trip to an Asian supermarket. Once sourced, they need to be bashed with a rolling pin or in a pestle and mortar to release the flavour, rather than chopped with blades. So resist the temptation to skip this step and throw directly into the food processor!
Tips & Tricks
- Check the coconut milk – the ingredients list should only contain coconut flesh and water. Do no use coconut milk which contains emulsifiers, thickeners or stabilisers. These are added to stop the coconut solids from separating, so you will not be able to scoop off any coconut cream.
- Pound the lemongrass stalks – chopping them with blades does not fully release their flavour.
- Fry the curry paste – this releases the flavour compounds, allowing the essential oils from the spices to dissolve into the cooking oil (they are not water soluble).
- Add liquid once the oil starts to separate – this means that all the moisture has evaporated, so the spices will quickly start to burn.
for the paste:
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 4 keffir lime leaves, fresh or dried (if you cannot find, replace with finely grated zest of 1/2 organic lime)
- 2 fresh lemongrass stalks
- 3-4 whole green bird’s eye chillies, stalks removed
- thumb-sized piece of root ginger (20g), peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 100g shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 medium bunch of fresh coriander (50g), leaves only (unless the stems are young and tender, in which case include)
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil / neutral-tasting oil
- juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons coconut palm sugar
for the chicken:
- 700g skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4cm pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
for the curry:
- 400ml (1 can) full-fat, pure coconut milk (unshaken and refrigerated, so the coconut cream can be scooped off the top)
- 1 small head of broccoli, core removed and chopped into bite-size florets (150g prepared weight)
- 1 small tin of bamboo shoots, drained (230g net, 140g drained)
- Make the curry paste. You can make the paste ahead, as it will keep for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. To store, spoon into a jam jar, press down to eliminate air bubbles, and then pour over a layer of neutral-tasting oil.
- Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the whole spices (coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns and lime leaves) and dry fry for 1 – 2 minutes, or until they release a fragrant aroma. Tip into a spice grinder and grind until finely ground (if you do not have a spice grinder, then use a pestle and mortar or the small bowl of a food processor). Set aside.
- Cut off the woody root tip of each lemongrass stalk until you reach the purple-tinted rings. Trim off the top third of the dry stalk. Remove and discard the loose, dry outer layer, to expose a denser inner stalk. Finely slice the stalk into rings. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and pound to release the fragrant oils. Scrape into the small bowl of a food processor.
- Add the remaining aromatics to the food processor (chillies, ginger, garlic, shallots and coriander). Blitz until smooth. If the paste needs loosening up, add a bit of the oil. Tip in the toasted spices, and the remaining paste ingredients (oil, lime juice, fish sauce and coconut palm sugar). Blitz to a smooth paste.
- Tenderise the chicken (optional). Put the chicken in a non-metallic bowl. Add the salt and lime juice, and massage into the meat. Cover, transfer to the fridge, and leave to marinate for 30 minutes – 2 hours (do not marinate for longer than this, as the lime juice will toughen the meat).
- Fry the paste. Open the can of coconut milk. The thick fat should have separated from the thin coconut water, and risen to the top of the can to form a solid white layer (coconut cream). Spoon out half of the coconut solids into the casserole, making sure you leave behind the coconut water that is in the bottom 1/4 or so of the can. Bring to the boil, and then fry over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously, until it starts to split and curdle as the oil separates out – about 3-5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and scrape in the curry paste. Cook until the oil starts to separate again, stirring frequently – about 3-5 minutes (it is important not to rush this stage, as it develops flavour and stops the spices from tasting raw).
- Simmer the sauce. Add the rest of the coconut milk (solids and water), and stir until blended. Bring to a simmer, and then add the broccoli florets. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken, and stir until evenly coated in sauce. Simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Stir occasionally, being careful not to break up the broccoli florets.
- Once the chicken is cooked, add the bamboo shoots. Cook until warmed through – about 2 minutes.
- Transfer into a serving dish and serve hot.