Thai Yellow Curry with Chicken and Shrimp

Makes 4 large servings

This is one of my favourite curries.  No, I lied.  This is my favourite curry!  It has such a beautiful balance of salty, tangy, spicy and sweet that you’ll want to lick the bowl clean.  It’s also a full bodied, aromatic, vibrant and texturally rich curry that just gets better and better the longer it’s in the fridge.  You can’t go wrong with that, can you?

What’s the secret to its rich and creamy texture and outstanding colour, you ask?  My addition of mango pulp.  Yep, that’s the secret ingredient.  You won’t find that in any Thai restaurant menu.  This, along with coconut milk, is what gives this Thai yellow curry with chicken and shrimp such a full body, rich texture and creamy consistency.  It’s so lip smacking good you’ll want to eat it every day.

People tend to shirk away from making Thai curry pastes and sauces from scratch as they are widely available in most supermarkets.  However, I promise that this home made – from scratch – version is so much more flavourful, fragrant and delicious than the versions made with out-of-the-jar pastes that your taste buds will thank you for days.  No lie.  Also, it only requires a few additional ‘special’ ingredients and these you can pick up at your local Asian food store or even well stocked supermarkets.  Without further delay, let’s get started.


Recipe – Thai Yellow Curry with Chicken and Shrimp


For the sauce:

  • 10 -20 dried red chilies (according to taste and broken in half, seeds and stem discarded and soaked in a cup of warm water)*
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, sliced
  • 2 medium shallots, chopped
  • 2” piece of galangal, chopped (can be substituted with ginger)
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed and sliced
  • 10 small dried shrimp or Thai shrimp paste (optional)
  • ¼ cup ripe mango, chopped or pulped
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut cream dissolved in ¼ cup of water or ¼ cup of coconut milk

*I would suggest going easy on the chili if you’re unsure as to how spicy your chilies are or are unfamiliar with how much spice you can handle.  You can always add more ground chili at the end if not spicy enough.  Just remember though, in order to achieve that balance of flavours that Thai cuisine is renowned for, it has to have at least a decent amount of spice!

For the Curry:

  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • Small piece of tamarind pulp, dissolved in ¼ cup of warm water
  • 1 – 1 ½ cup coconut milk (thin with water if too strong)
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, cut in half and beat with flat edge of knife to release flavour
  • 2 small chicken breasts, sliced thin with the grain
  • 10 large tiger shrimp (optional)
  • ½ cup broccoli florets (optional)
  • 1/2  cup carrots and/or red pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil, for cooking
  • Few stalks of coriander, roots trimmed, for garnish
  • Water, if needed to thin out curry (optional)


  1. In a blender first add the soaked dried chilies – now rehydrated – with a tablespoon of the water they have been soaking in and blend for a few seconds.
  2. Add the lemongrass and blend for a few more seconds, adding enough chili water to keep the blades moving smoothly.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients in the ‘For the Sauce’ section and blend until mixture is smooth and velvety.  Pass through a strainer or sieve if necessary to remove lumps.*
  4. Heat oil in a wok or heavy bottom pan for a few seconds and then add the yellow curry sauce mixture and lemongrass stalk and stir fry until fragrant, 2 – 4 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken and cook until opaque, 2 minutes.
  6. Add coconut milk, tamarind mixture, brown sugar and shrimp (if using) and cook until chicken is cooked through and shrimp is opaque, 5 minutes.
  7. Add vegetables (if using) and warm through, 1 – 2 minutes.
  8. Check consistency and thin out with water if too thick.
  9. Cook for an additional minute to ensure shrimp has cooked through (if using).
  10. Test seasoning and adjust according to taste.  Add more sugar if too spicy or sour, more fish sauce if not salty enough and more lime juice if too salty.
  11. Ladle into four bowls, garnish with coriander and serve with hot Thai jasmine rice on the side and watch the bowls get licked clean.

*If you want to store this mixture in the fridge for future use, add all ingredients except for the coconut cream and water/coconut milk and blend as instructed until it reaches a paste like consistency.  This will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

This sauce is so versatile that you can use it to make a variety of different Thai yellow curries.  For a vegetarian version, omit the dried shrimps or shrimp paste and throw in deep fried tofu into the mix to replace the chicken.  Add some extra vegetables and you have a great, well rounded vegetarian meal.  Add some potatoes and baby corns to bulk up your curry if you’re running low on meat.  Add mussels and shrimp for a delicious seafood version.  Thin curry with water or thin coconut milk and warm up some flat rice noodles in this Thai yellow curry soup for an all in one meal.  There are so many possibilities.


3 thoughts on “Thai Yellow Curry with Chicken and Shrimp

  1. Pingback: Asian Recipe | emilykarn

  2. Pingback: Butter Chicken Kothu Roti | Silk Route Chef

  3. Pingback: Weekly Menu Saturday 9th August 2014 | Not for Coco

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