I learned to make this Thai Green Coconut Curry in Chiang Mai, Thailand, by man named Basil! Catalina and I travelled to Chiang Mai to experience a day in the life of a Mahout (elephant caregiver). Before we go any further, if you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai, or Thailand for that matter, you MUST go to Patara Elephant Farm. It was by far one of, if not the pinnacle, highlights of our 5 week journey throughout South East Asia. You’ll spend the day caring for beautiful, rescued Asian elephants, trekking through the Thai jungle with them, feeding them, bathing them, swimming in rivers with them and eating on banana leaves. It’s the closest you’ll get to living a scene from the Jungle Book. Amazing experience!
It was during our stay in Chiang Mai that a fellow traveller recommended doing a Thai cooking class. We both have a deep love of Thai food and culture that goes back many years so we jumped at the idea of it. Basil’s Thai Cookery School had outstanding reviews on Trip Advisor (see for yourself) and he had availability the next day so we signed up. Along with Patara, Basil’s was one of the best decisions we made on our trip. The day consisted of a guided trip to the local market to source our produce and learn about the different Thai ingredients. Basil know’s his stuff and gave us a rundown of the ingredients, their tastes, flavour profiles, textures and even their medicinal qualities. H discussed turmeric’s anti-inflamatory properties and the fact that ginger is a natural stomach pain reliever. I loved every second of the market and couldn’t wait to start cooking. Basil’s was, and still is, my only “formal” cooking education! That makes Basil the best cooking instructor I’ve ever had!!! Thanks dude!
We were allowed to create three dishes from a menu card. I chose Green Papaya Salad, Green Coconut Curry and Sticky Rice with Mango. Everything we made that afternoon was unbelievably delicious. In fact, the green coconut curry was the best I’ve ever had to date. It was pure magic! All of the spices, flavours, aromatics and textures harmoniously married together in the creaminess of the coconut milk. It was enough to make me swoon! I was in love… with the curry of course! Though Basil’s a good-looking dude, no doubt!
One thing I will point out is that Thai recipes can be extremely unhealthy. I was very surprised to learn just how much sugar and refined oils were used in Thai cuisine. Basil’s weren’t too bad though! I eased back on a bit of the sugar when I cooked in the class. The beauty, however, is that Thai recipes easily adapt to Paleo-friendly versions without losing any flavour. Just about any Thai recipe, curry or otherwise, that calls for Palm sugar or white sugar can be replaced with honey. The same goes for recipes that call for vegetable oil, which can be replaced with coconut oil. In fact, I would even go out on a limb and say that they taste better with coconut oil and honey!
If you are on a round of Whole30, you can make this Green Curry by omitting the honey. You will of course lose some of the sweetness in the sauce but it will still be delicious.
Instead of traditional white jasmine rice, try it with my cauliflower rice recipe. But leave out the lime and cilantro on this one. Or, serve it overtop shredded cabbage. Yum!
The recipe I’m sharing here is my Paleo friendly version of Basil’s Green Coconut Curry. It is an adapted recipe to which I owe Basil a great deal of gratitude. I’ve been making it over-and-over for the better part of a year! Coconut Curry is the gift that keeps on giving. Every time it tastes a little bit different, a little bit better. Feel free to play around with the accompanying vegetables but PLEASE remain true to the technique.
4 Secrets to Amazing Thai Curry:
- The Curry Paste: You need an excellent curry paste for this recipe. You can make your own and I have provided Basil’s recipe here for you to try. It is amazing and easy enough to do by hand with a bit of elbow grease. Or, you can buy good curry pastes at the store. I like Arroy-D brand. Just please be sure to pick one that is all-natural and has the ingredients listed in Basil’s paste. The paste is unavoidable and forms the foundation of the dish.
- Toasting the paste in the oil is CRUCIAL: You must release the essential oils from the paste for maximum flavour. Also, be sure to cook the chicken in a little bit of coconut milk before adding the veggies. It is important to continuously taste for seasoning before you add the veggies because once their in, there’s no going back.
- Prepare, wash and cut all of your veggies and meat before you begin. This dish comes together very quickly and can easily burn if your stuck chopping stuff while you’re cooking.
- Grab some Kafir Lime leaf and Thai basil: these two ingredients are often overlooked in homemade Thai curries. Thai basil (or Holy Basil) is becoming more readily available but Kafir Lime leaves can be a bit tricky. I recommend heading to the nearest Asian grocery store.
Give it a go and let me know what you think in the comments below!