Spicy, Rich and Creamy Panang Curry with Coconut Milk, Bell Peppers and Basil leaves…! Pair it up with your favourite protein and serve on a bed of steamed White Rice, Yummy Yum…!!!
This is my faaavourite Thai Curry, inspired from my honeymoon trip to Thailand! Since then, whichever Thai restaurants I go to, this dish would be my first choice. After seeing me repeating the same dish every time, my husband suggested me to try preparing it at home. It was about time, and that’s how all this came together…
It is said “Great Ingredients make Great Food”, and that’s exactly how I feel about this recipe. A simple and authentic curry in 30 minutes time; it’s so comforting, packed full of flavours, with the aroma of the leaves, richness from the coconut milk, spiciness of the paste, saltiness from the fish sauce, and sweetness of the sugar. If you need some extra spice – add some serrano peppers! And the best part of this recipe is, I managed to pull it off in restaurant quality style, trust me!!!
The hero of this dish is the Panang curry paste which is prepared from dried chili peppers, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime zest, coriander root, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, garlic, shallot, shrimp paste, salt and peanuts. I have used a store bought paste due to the unavailability of all the ingredients in my nearby grocery stores. If you are allergic to peanuts by chance, most of the store bought Panang curry paste omits the use of peanuts so as to keep it safe for everyone.
The authentic curry calls for kaffir lime leaves, which is an inevitable part of Thai dishes especially soups, curries or stir fried dishes. If you are planning to add Kaffir lime leaves in your curry, make sure you remove its stem and chop leaves into a julienne cut (cut into long thin strips). Generally people tend to discard it if left as a whole. The zest of lime is also a substitute for kaffir lime leaves (6 leaves = 1 tbsp zest). And like me if you couldn’t get these leaves, using Thai basil leaves instead is another good option. Basil is not an exact substitution, but it has a unique flavour which stands up to Thai dishes.
The dish is usually made with any protein which is also cut into thin strips. That helps in ensuring a proper cook quickly as the dish is not boiled long since it contains coconut milk which may split. The concentration of coconut milk has to remain very thick to give the richness to the curry. For vegetarians, alternatives for fish sauce will be vegetable stock or soy sauce. Tofu can be used in place of meat.
I highly recommend you to read the “Notes section” below for the variations.
Enjoy this Thai delicacy…!!!
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Prep time: 25-30 minutes
- 1 lb chicken tenderloin / breast (cut into thin strips)
- Oil (as required)
- 2 tbsp panang curry paste (store bought)
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp light brown sugar (or palm sugar)
- ½ cup bell peppers (sliced)
- 3 tbsp water
- 8-10 Thai basil leaves (plus extra for garnish)
- Heat a pan with little oil and start sautéing the panang curry paste on a medium flame until it is aromatic (for 2 mins). Make sure not to burn the paste.
- Add the thick part of the coconut milk (4 tbsp), saute well until the oil starts to separate.
- Add the chicken pieces, basil leaves, and the rest of the coconut milk along with a little water.
- Bring the heat to low, add bell peppers, fish sauce and brown sugar, and allow it to cook for 5-7 mins. Turn off the heat when the chicken is completely cooked.
- Garnish with additional basil leaves.
Serve with steamed white rice/ fried rice.
- For Vegetarians, substitute protein with tofu, and fish sauce with vegetable stock or soya sauce. Use gluten free soya sauce like tamari to make this recipe gluten free.
- If you are preparing the Panang curry paste on your own rather than a store bought one, you may need to increase the quantity of the paste to 4 tbsp because store bought paste is usually concentrated.
- Palm sugar (authentic ingredient) can be replaced with light brown sugar or sugar.
- Kaffir lime leaves (authentic ingredient) can be replaced with lime zest (6 leaves = 1 tbsp zest) or with Thai basil leaves.
- Fish sauce / soya sauce already has plenty of salt in it, so season only if necessary.
- Use Serrano peppers for extra spiciness.
Interested in more Thai recipes? Check these out: