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Northern Thai Curry Noodles | Khao Soi | ข้าวซอย

Northern Thai Curry Noodles | Khao Soi | ข้าวซอย

In the fall of last year, I introduced a little sidebar poll where you can vote for which recipe you’d like to see featured on this blog next.  You guys made a great choice in voting for Thai-style chicken and rice (khao man gai) on the inaugural poll.  And I have to say, you did it again with another fantastic choice of Northern Thai curry noodles (khao soi) this time!

Khao soi is a dish that both the boyfriend and I get super excited about.

Northern Thai Curry Noodles | Khao Soi | ข้าวซอย

As you can imagine, growing up in Chiang Mai, the boyfriend basically grew up on this dish.  Since he was still a child when he left Thailand and came to the States, he doesn’t remember everything about his childhood in Chiang Mai.  However, eating khao soi is one of the memories that still stands out vividly in his mind.  He tells me stories of ordering khao soi and other noodle soup dishes for lunch basically whenever he wanted because there was a noodle stand within the Prince Royal’s College school grounds where he went to elementary school.

Unfortunately, khao soi hasn’t been quite so easy for us to find here in San Francisco.  That isn’t to say we haven’t tried!  We’ve visited a large majority of the Thai restaurants in the greater Bay Area on our search for khao soi, comparing each bowl we find to the ones the boyfriend grew up eating.  And we’ve found a few that have come close, including Toomie’s Thai Cuisine in Alameda, DaNang Krungthep Thai Restaurant in Albany, and Dusita Thai in Santa Clara.

 Northern Thai Curry Noodles | Khao Soi | ข้าวซอย

All of these restaurants are a bit of a trek from where we are, so I was really happy when you guys suggested that khao soi be included on the sidebar poll and then again when it was chosen as the next recipe to be featured!  I had never attempted to make it at home before — I think because it seemed like it would be hard to get “just right” — but your votes helped me get over that hurdle and try it.

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve made several attempts at this noodle dish recently.  I started with a fairly simple recipe for the curry soup base, but quickly realized that it needed more flavor as well as more complexity of flavor.  So in my second attempt, I upped the amount of curry paste and added in fresh tumeric, ginger, coriander seeds, and black cardamom seeds to really boost the flavors and turn it from a simple curry paste into something much more complex.  Another attempt was necessary to get the condiments, noodles, and chili sauce just right.

 Northern Thai Curry Noodles | Khao Soi | ข้าวซอย

But I have to say that all of these attempts were well worth it!  We wound up with an absolutely delicious bowl of khao soi.  And although it wasn’t exactly what the boyfriend remembered from his childhood days, it was close enough to bring back all of those wonderful memories.

Northern Thai Curry Noodles | Khao Soi | ข้าวซอย

Northern Thai Curry Noodles | Khao Soi | ข้าวซอย

Makes 4 servings

Northern Thai Curry Noodles | Khao Soi | ข้าวซอย


    Curry Paste:
  • 4 Tablespoons red curry paste
  • 4 Tablespoons ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black cardamom seeds
  • Curry Soup:
  • Khao soi curry paste
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 and 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon thin soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 16 ounces fresh egg noodles
  • Roast Chili Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 Tablespoons shallots
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic
  • 12 dried red Thai chilis
  • Accompaniments:
  • 1/4 cup shallots, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup preserved sour mustard green, sliced
  • 1-2 limes, sliced
  • Roast chili sauce
  • A few stalks cilantro


    To Make Your Curry Paste:
  1. Dry roast the coriander and hulled black cardamom seeds, then grind them together in a spice/coffee grinder.
  2. Peel and slice the ginger and tumeric. Pound together in the mortar and pestle.
  3. Add the red curry paste and pound until the ginger and tumeric are fully incorporated. Then add the curry powder and ground coriander and black cardamom seeds. Again, pound until the curry paste is smooth and everything is incorporated.
  4. To Make the Curry Soup:
  5. Open a can of coconut milk and gently scoop the top layer of cream (~1/2 cup) into a large pot. Heat over medium high heat until you start to see an oily sheen. Add the khao soi curry paste and stir into the coconut cream. Cook until the curry paste has completely absorbed the coconut milk.
  6. Then add the chicken drumsticks and coat in the curry paste.
  7. Add the rest of the coconut milk, chicken broth, and water. Let boil gently (uncovered) for 45 minutes to an hour until the chicken is cooked through. The sauce will condense down and become rich during this time.
  8. Season with palm sugar, light soy sauce, and dark soy sauce to taste.
  9. To Make the Roast Chili Sauce:
  10. Slice the garlic and shallots finely.
  11. Heat a small pot of oil over medium heat.
  12. Fry the garlic, shallots, and dried red chilis separately in this oil. Remove and save the oil.
  13. Pound the fried garlic, shallots, and chilis together in the mortar and pestle. Add back 2 Tablespoons of the frying oil to form the chili sauce.
  14. To Serve the Khao Soi:
  15. Boil 12 ounces of egg noodles until they are al dente.
  16. Fry the remaining 4 ounces of egg noodles in oil until golden brown.
  17. Place the boiled noodles in the bottom of the bowl and scoop a chicken drumstick and the curry soup over the top. Top with a handful of fried noodles.
  18. Serve with shallots, preserved mustard greens, lime slices, roast chili sauce, and a stalk or two of cilantro.

34 comments… add one
  • Carlos Herranz Conde June 14, 2018, 9:09 am

    I have being doing a profesional Thai cooking course in Chiang Mai the past few months. I can send you the best khao Soi recipe ever.

    Do not use red curry paste, the ingredientes for khao Soi paste are very different and also neeed to be roasted before pounding.

    Also you need to do khao Soi massala mix to add to Paste which is made with 18 different dry spices.

    The massala is very important, is the same used for hang lay curry, northern curry for Chiang Mai. I am sure your boy knows it. It uses coriander, cumin, turmeric, white peppercorn, long Javanese black pepper, sand ginger, Galanga, Indian dill, dill, fennel, Indian cardamon, red cardamon, Thai cardamon, cinnamon…

  • Tony May 5, 2017, 4:57 am

    I haven’t changed my mind at all this is a really excellent recipe for Khao Soy.

    If anyone is interested I’ve just updated my article on Khao Soy and its origins in Chiang Mai at http://breadtagsagas.com/food-in-chiang-mai-6-2017-update/and the original article athttp://breadtagsagas.com/food-in-chiang-mai-3-khao-soy These provide context to this most exciting dish and food experience.

  • Prema June 14, 2016, 8:09 am

    good khao soi recipe

  • Kaylan April 13, 2016, 7:32 pm

    This is crtasyl clear. Thanks for taking the time!

  • Tony April 3, 2016, 1:10 am

    Hi I just updated my Khao Soy article on Chiang Mai that shows where Khao Soy comes from and how it is enjoyed in its original context. I’ve included a link to this article since I posted. I think your presentation, the recipe and description are excellent.


    Regards Tony

    Regards Tony

  • Nicola January 18, 2016, 12:18 am

    I want you to know how much enjoyment my family and I have had from this recipe. We have made it countless times and it’s still a treat every time. In fact, I even made it for a Thai-themed superbowl party and everybody loved it. Thank you!!

    • Rachel January 18, 2016, 4:33 am

      That’s so great to hear, Nicola! Thanks for letting us know :)

  • Tony November 13, 2015, 2:29 am

    This is just a courtesy to tell you that I enjoyed your post on cooking Khao Soy and linked you to an article I wrote on Khao Soy in Chiang Mai some months back.
    Regards Tony

  • Brandon October 1, 2015, 1:26 am

    Hi there. I made this what seems like ages ago when the recipe came out and while it was incredibly delicious, it was painful to eat! Now I can handle spicy foods easily, it just seemed very imbalanced over-the-top spicy. Has anyone else had that experience?

    Thinking of cooking it again soon! ;)

  • Mollie June 1, 2015, 3:43 am

    Hi Rachel,
    Which khao soi curry paste do you recommend? Can’t wait to make this!


    • Rachel June 1, 2015, 2:45 pm

      Hi Mollie, I make my own paste by adding fresh ginger, turmeric, and other spices to a pre-made red curry paste, as above. I haven’t yet come across a pre-made paste that I like quite as much as this. Best of luck!

  • bao-kim tran May 20, 2015, 11:55 am

    Dear Rachel,

    I have really enjoyed following your blog! In your opinion, which restaurant out of the 3 has the best Khao Soi? My husband and I would like to go try this weekend:). We will also go to the Thai market you recommended….Thank you for sharing these places with all of us!


    • Rachel May 21, 2015, 9:42 am

      Hi Bao-Kim,
      Thanks for the kind note! If you’re going to the markets in Oakland, then I’d definitely recommend you stop by DaNang Krung Thep in Albany. Hope you guys enjoy!

  • ทิมทันจูมิ้งอันอุอิ June 24, 2014, 7:35 am

    ขอบคุนสำหรับสูตรคร่า พวกเราซาบซึ้งชวิงชวิง บุยยยย

  • Ameera May 1, 2014, 8:30 am

    Hi Rachel
    No need to say this is a restaurant style authentic dish..i hv eaten khao soi in a thai fine dine restaurant and i m totally in love with this dish…please could you tell me which curry powder ??? im in London we do have indian shops here is that curry powder you reffering to ?? if i cant find it can i skip it ??X

  • Jennifer Ferreira January 11, 2014, 7:07 pm

    I just wanted to say thank you for posting this recipe. I tried khao soi at a restaurant called Tampopo in Manchester,UK and since I moved away from there I’ve been trying to find a recipe to replicate it. Your recipe worked superbly. I look forward to trying more of your recipes soon.

    • Rachel January 12, 2014, 5:06 am

      Great, Jennifer! I’m so glad it turned out for you!

  • Shifa October 22, 2013, 7:00 pm

    Hi Rachel
    I just want to say, what you’re doing is amazing! It’s not easy to find authentic Thai recipes that do justice to the original flavour. I was born in Thailand, but living in Canada, never learned the little details about Thai cooking. I love that you have it all in this recipe, down to the crispy fried noodles in the pictures! I would show my mum, except she would probably get a bit jealous that your recipe is more thorough than hers;)

    • Rachel October 23, 2013, 12:23 am

      Haha, thanks so much for the sweet comment, Shifa!

  • Jason October 11, 2013, 5:20 pm

    Hi Rachel! I found your blog because I was looking for khao soi receips online. I myself lived in Chiang Rai for about 3 months a long time back, and I have ALWAYS loved Northern Thai cooking. :D Two quick comments/questions to share with you:
    (1) Have you tried Jet Tila’s recipe (http://laist.com/2013/04/05/chef_jet_tilas_khao_soi_recipe_for.php)? I haven’t tried it, but I was wondering if you had and if it has the same complexity that you were looking for.
    (2) I bounce between LA and SJ a lot, and there’s a couple of good places for Khao Soi in Thai Town in LA, but I think this one is probably the one that a lot of people talk about: http://www.yelp.com/biz/spicy-bbq-restaurant-los-angeles?q=khao+soi .

    Thanks for always posting your wonderful recipes! :))

    • Rachel October 12, 2013, 1:02 am

      Hi Jason, thanks for the comment! I haven’t tried khao soi at Jitlada or Spicy BBQ, but will definitely put it on my list next time we’re down in LA!

  • Linda August 23, 2013, 3:32 pm

    Hi Rachel,
    I just returned from Chiang Rai and vowed to try to duplicate the Khao-Soi that we had at a local noodle restaurant. My friend, who was with me in Thailand, forwarded your blog and it looks like it will be very close to what we experienced. I’m excited to try it and many of your other recipes. Thanks for the posts!

  • Greg July 30, 2013, 10:29 am

    Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for the link, it looks like a good paste recipe and I can source most of the ingredients locally so that always helps. Have bookmarked your blog and will continue to look with interest. Thanks again.

  • Greg July 26, 2013, 9:58 pm

    Hi Rachel,
    I spent a several years as a Chef in south east Asia back in the late 90’s and I lived in Phuket for about a year. But my greatest food memory was a trip to Chiangmai Mai and a Khao Soi I had at the night markets. It was incredible. On my return to my kitchen in Phuket I asked all of the local Chefs to make me this dish if they knew how to. A few said they could but the result was a hotel style dish that lacked the gutsy rustic favours I ad experienced. In your recipe it calls for red curry paste, is this traditional to your knowledge or is this a short cut so that home cooks will not be put off by making the paste for Khao Soi from scratch? Thanks again for the recipe I will be trying it next week in our annual Curry Cup 2013, a little comp we have each winter with 12 other couples at someone’s house.

    • Rachel July 28, 2013, 6:13 am

      Hi Greg, thanks for visiting! I believe the traditional version starts with a curry paste made from scratch. There are a few sites that have recipes for this (Austin Bush’s blog is the only one coming to mind right now – http://www.austinbushphotography.com/blog/how-to-make-khao-soi.html). Best of luck at the Curry Cup 2013!

  • Duncan Idaho May 28, 2013, 4:01 am

    Thanks for the recipe. I grew up in Chiang Mai also and went to PRC from 1st grade to 6th. Went to Satit CMU from 7th to 11th, finished 12th grade in Georgia. I now live in Washington State. Tammy is right about having to go to Portland for good Khao Soi, also there’s a good place there for khao Mun Gai.

    • Rachel May 28, 2013, 4:12 am

      Thanks Duncan! I’ve heard of the khao mun gai food cart and am really curious to try the khao soi one too!

  • Tammy April 20, 2013, 3:13 am

    Still a bit away from California, but there’s a great food cart in Portland that does Khao Soi!

    • Rachel April 21, 2013, 5:09 pm

      Ooh, I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time I’m there! Thanks, Tammy.

  • Sue March 14, 2013, 8:14 am

    Hi Rachel, I just found your website and would love to keep up with your wonderful recipes, but I do not see an email subscription, nor will the Pinterest button work from my tablet. I tried to “Search” for you under your blog name, but never saw your boards, just recipes others had posted. I love Thai and am excited about some of the recipes I’ve already seen!

  • Fawn at Cowen Park Kitchen March 13, 2013, 4:41 pm

    This was my absolute favorite dish when I visited Chiang Mai. It’s also hard to find here in Seattle, and I’m hesitant to mar my good memories with a potentially off version here. Might have to do this one sometime…

  • Cate March 11, 2013, 5:41 am

    This looks unreal. I cannot wait until I get to Thailand in my around the world cooking journey. And your photos are so beautiful! I can’t wait to look through your archives to get some inspiration :)

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