I learned to make this Whole30 Thai Green Coconut Curry in Chiang Mai, Thailand, by a man named Basil! Back in the summer of 2014, Catalina and I travelled to Chiang Mai while backpacking through South East Asia. It was the trip of a lifetime and we still look back on it today!
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. Cooking at 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. He 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 cooking class was, and still is, the only “formal” cooking education I’ve ever had! 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 while Thai food is absolutely delicious, many recipes can be extremely unhealthy! I was very surprised to learn just how much sugar and refined oils were used in Thai cooking. Basil’s weren’t too bad though! I eased back on a bit of the sugar when I cooked in the class.
The beauty for those hoping to recreate their favourite Thai dishes in a Paleo and/or Whole30 way, is that Thai recipes are easily adaptable with a few clever substitutions. Just about any Thai recipe, curry or otherwise, that calls for Palm sugar or white sugar can be replaced with honey and or a homemade date syrup. 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 natural sweeteners!
If you are on a round of Whole30, you can make this Green Curry by making a very simple date syrup. Simply steep 4 dates in a 1/2 cup of boiling water until softened. Then blend until smooth and creamy. I promise, your taste buds will never know the difference!
To keep things clean, try serving the Whole30 Thai Green Coconut Curry with my cauliflower rice recipe. But leave out the lime and cilantro on this one. Or, serve it overtop shredded cabbage. Equally delicious!
I really can’t give enough credit to Basil. This Whole30 Thai curry wouldn’t have been possible without him! Basil, I know you’ll probably never read this, but thank you! I owe you a great deal of gratitude. I’ve been making this curry over-and-over for years now! I’m telling you, coconut curry is the gift that keeps on giving. Every time it tastes a little bit different, a little bit better.
I encourage you to play around with the accompanying vegetables but PLEASE remain true to the technique taught to me by Basil!
4 Secrets to Amazing Whole30 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.
- Note: if you can’t find Kafir lime leaf, substitute lemon grass stalks. If you can’t find Thai basil, substitute any basil available.
Give it a go and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Basil's Thai Green Coconut Curry - Paleo
Basil's Green Curry Paste
- 15 large green chilies
- 2 small thai bird chilies
- 2 tbsp chopped shallot
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 1 tsp chopped galangal (thai ginger)
- 1 tbsp chopped lemongrass
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander root
- 1/2 tsp chopped kaffir lime skin
- 1 tsp roasted coriander seed
- 1 tsp roasted cumin
- 5 white peppercorns
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp shrimp paste
Basil's Green Coconut Curry - Paleo
- 1 tbsp compliant green curry paste such as Arroy-D or Thai Kitchen
- 100 gr sliced chicken Substitute turkey, shrimp or dense veggie like squash
- 1 Chinese eggplant cubed
- 1/2 green bell pepper cut into 1/2 inch irregular squares
- 1/4 cup basil leaves Use Holy Basil, Regular Basil or Thai basil.
- 2-3 kaffir lime leaves (stems removed) Or, substitute lemongrass stalks.
- 1.5 cups full fat coconut milk
- 1.5 tbsp honey or substitute 1/4 cup homemade date syrup
- 1 tsp compliant fish sauce such as Red Boat
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
For Homemade Green Curry Paste
- With a mortar and pestle, pound cumin, coriander seeds and peppercorns together. Add in chilies and salt and bash.
- Once chilies are finely bashed, add all of the remaining ingredients except the shrimp paste. Pound until broken down into a fine paste.
- Once the ingredients are smoothly bashed, add the shrimp paste and continue to pound with the pestle until thoroughly combined.
- The green curry paste is now ready to be used in a variety of dishes including coconut curries and soups. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for a few weeks. Maybe longer?
For Date Syrup
- Add 4 pitted dates to a wide-mouth mason jar. Pour in 1/4 boiling water. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and let steep until very soft (approx. 8-10min). Using and immersion blender or regular blender, blend until smooth and creamy.
For Thai Green Coconut Curry
- In a large wok or sauté pan, heat 2 tbsp coconut oil over med-heat. Add green curry paste and stir continuously until the scent of the curry paste perfumes the air (approx. 30-60 seconds).
- Add ½ cup of coconut milk and continue to stir until a green oil surfaces (approx. 1-2 minutes).
- Add sliced chicken and stir continuously until cooked and no longer pink in the middle (approx. 3-4 minutes).
- Add remaining coconut milk and stir to combine. Add eggplant, bell peppers, bamboo shoots, lime leaves (or lemongrass) fish sauce and honey (or date syrup). Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook until the eggplant have softened and fork tender (approx. 6-7 minutes).
- Remove from heat, add basil leaves. Stir gently.
- Serve overtop of cauliflower rice or shredded white cabbage. Garnish with a few more sprigs of fresh basil.