This Thai Panang Curry is one of my favorite dishes from Thailand. It’s made with Panang curry paste – which is easy to find in the grocery store – coconut milk, fish sauce and kaffir lime leaves. Add chicken and veggies, if you like, and serve it over rice.
There’s something really soul satisfying about Thai Panang Curry. It’s warming and filling, not to mention deliciously aromatic. All the flavors you love about Thai food are in this bowl: aromatic curry paste, coconut milk, lime leaves, fish sauce and basil.
I learned to make this curry in Chiang Mai, Thailand, at a cooking class with a lovely local chef. She took us to the market to pick out the ingredients and taught up about the spices that go into a Panang curry. Since there are so many different curries in Thailand, this was a very useful lesson.
It’s a great meal to make when you’re trying to cut down on meat consumption too, because you can dress it up with as many vegetables as you like. If you want to add a protein, chicken, beef, tofu, or shrimp are the typical choices.
What is Panang Curry?
You might know there are many different types of curry paste in Thailand. Panang curry is one of them. It’s always been my favorite. It differs from red curry in that it includes mungbean in the paste.
It’s also slightly sweeter and less spicy than red or yellow curry. If you’re new to curry, or don’t like strong or spicy flavors, Panang curry is for you!
The ingredients include red chile, lemongrass, shallot, salt, garlic, galanga, mungbean, shrimp paste, kaffir lime peel, coriander, cumin, and pepper.
Where to Buy Panang Curry Paste
You can make your own Panang curry paste with this recipe, if you have a mortar & pestle. It takes quite a bit of grinding, but it’s very satisfying work. I usuaully skip to the conclusion and just buy Mae Ploy Panang curry paste. I’ve found it in most large grocery stores, or specialty Asian markets.
I also really like the Maesri brand. It comes in a tin and there’s enough in the can to make two of this recipe.
Another brand that’s good is Lobo. If you can’t find Panang curry, you can also make this recipe with red curry or yellow curry. These have just slighly different taste and spice level, but are similar.
Ingredients You’ll Need
There are a few ingredients in this recipe that you’ll have to source from a larger grocery store ore specialty store, but if you can’t find them there are easy substitutions.
- Panang curry paste – store-bought or homemade
- Cooking oil – peanut or vegetable
- A can of coconut milk – not the kind in the jug that you drink. I also don’t recommend low-fat coconut milk.
- Thai or regular basil
- Fish sauce
- Thai palm sugar – you can use regular sugar, brown sugar, or demerara sugar
- Kaffir lime leaves – these are the hardest thing on the list to find, but they smell heavenly and add a great aroma to the dish. If you can’t find them, it’s okay to leave it out.
- Protein (if you want) – chicken, beef, tofu or shrimp
- Veggies: Red and green bell peppers and onions/shallots are most typical, but try butternut squash, zucchini, tomato or anything else you like
- Steamed rice to serve it with
- Lime wedges and red chilis, for garnish
How to Make Panang Curry
You might think it must be difficult to make such a flavorful, aromatic curry, but it’s actually super easy. You’ll need a wok or large pan.
Set the pan on the stovetop over medium high heat. Add the cooking oil and curry paste. Mix that around the pan until the aromas bloom. It’s about to smell really good in your kitchen!
Then add the coconut milk and whisk it all together. Add in the chicken and onion and allow it to cook through. When it’s just about done, add in the rest of the vegetables and basil. Let it simmer for just 2 minutes. It’s ready!
Serve it with rice to soak up the sauce. I have also served this with Thai rice noodles and it’s equally delicious.
If you’re looking for a low-carb way to eat this dish, serve it over bean sprouts! For more low-carb recipes, visit our sister site, Delightfully Low Carb.
For dessert, try this Mango Rice Pudding recipe. It’s a fun sweet ending to the meal.
Other Recipes to Try
If you haven’t heard about Imperfect Foods, check it out here (our referral link). We’ve been ordering it for over a year now. It’s great produce and it makes us happy to help build a kinder, less wasteful world.
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Thai Panang Curry
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon Panang curry paste
- 1 can coconut milk 12-14 ounce can
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Thai palm sugar or white sugar
- 2 kaffir lime leaves optional
- 4 oz thinly sliced chicken, beef, tofu or prawns if desired
- 1/2 onion thinly sliced
- 1 large red/green bell pepper cut into thin strips
- 8 leaves Thai or regular basil
- Steamed rice to serve it with optional
- lime wedges and red chilis, for garnish
- Heat a wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Add the cooking oil and the curry paste. Fry until the aromas bloom, about 1 minute.
- Add the coconut milk and whisk until smooth.
- Add the fish sauce, sugar, and kaffir lime leaves.
- Add in the onion, bell peppers and protein (if adding) and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Serve over rice or noodles with a squeeze of lime juice and red chilis, if desired.
- I like to use half a green bell pepper and half a red bell pepper to add extra color, but this isn’t necessary, so the recipe calls for just one red bell pepper.
- Adding the kefir lime leaves gives the sauce an extra lime flavor that elevates it. However, it’s difficult to find these leaves, so it’s not necessary to add them. You can add a squeeze of lime juice instead.
- If you can’t find Panang curry paste, that’s okay. You can use this recipe with any type of Thai curry paste: green, red, yellow, etc.
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.