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I tasted Thai food for the first time when I was in college.  I remember having Thai iced tea and loving how sweet and refreshing it was.  Then I had tom kha gai and thought how unusual (and delightful!) it was to be sipping spicy, tangy, coconut milk.  And I finished the meal with a bowl of yellow curry, which was so similar in some ways to stews that I had growing up, but was really so different.

The similarities were in the ingredients – chicken, potatoes, and onions – that form the base of a lot of western-style stews.  The thickness of the curry is also similar to many stews and the spiciness of yellow curry is more subdued than many other Thai curries.  I think this is why some Thai people say that yellow curry is a good dish for “farang” (the Thai word for westerners) to start with.

Yellow curry is made in the same way that many other Thai curries are made.  You start with thick coconut cream and heat it until the oil starts to separate from the milk.  Then you add the curry paste and cook until it’s nice and aromatic.  You cook the chicken in this curry paste, then add more coconut milk, water, and the vegetables, and adjust the seasonings.

You’re welcome to make your own curry paste, but the boyfriend and I have found that pre-made pastes generally work pretty well.  Just be sure that you get a brand that’s made in Thailand – our current favorite is Mae Anong.  With a good paste like this, you should be able to produce a respectable restaurant-quality bowl of yellow curry. 

I imagine that many “farang” are introduced to Thai food with yellow curry like I was.  And it’s a great place to start.  It can open the doors to many other types of curries – some fragrant, some peanuty, some sour, all spicy – and from there to other combinations of flavors that Thai food is so famous for.  So if you haven’t made Thai yellow curry at home before, I hope you give it a try!   

For some other great variations on Thai yellow curry, check out these recipes:

Yellow Curry with Chicken and Potatoes | Gang Garee Gai | แกงกะหรี่ไก่

Makes 3-4 servings

Yellow Curry with Chicken and Potatoes | Gang Garee Gai | แกงกะหรี่ไก่

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Prepare your ingredients. Slice the onion, baby corn, and chicken into bite-sized pieces. Peel, cut, and parboil the potatoes for ~5 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the top thicker cream part into a pan (approximately 1/2 cup). Heat this cream over medium heat until the oil just starts to separate from the milk. Then add the yellow curry paste and saute with the cream until it becomes fragrant.
  3. Add the chicken, coat in the curry paste, and cook until it's done. Then add the rest of the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil. Let cook until the consistency of the curry is what you prefer. You can use less water if you want a shorter cooking time.
  4. Add the potatoes, onions, and baby corn and cook until just done, but still firm. Adjust seasonings with fish sauce and sugar to taste. Some curry pastes will not need any sugar or fish sauce, and others will need more than the amounts specified here.
  5. Garnish with thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves and red peppers, if you like. Serve with jasmine rice.

More Thai Recipes:

Northern Thai Curry Noodles | Khao Soi | ข้าวซอย thumbnail

Northern Thai Curry Noodles | Khao Soi | ข้าวซอย

Green Curry with Chicken and Eggplant | Gang Keow Wan Gai | แกงเขียวหวานไก่ thumbnail

Green Curry with Chicken and Eggplant | Gang Keow Wan Gai | แกงเขียวหวานไก่

Coconut Milk Soup with Chicken | Tom Kha Gai | ต้มข่าไก่ thumbnail

Coconut Milk Soup with Chicken | Tom Kha Gai | ต้มข่าไก่

Green Curry with Fish, Eggplant, and Young Peppercorns | Gang Keow Wan Pla | แกงเขียวหวานปลา

Green Curry with Fish, Eggplant, and Young Peppercorns | Gang Keow Wan Pla | แกงเขียวหวานปลา

{ 52 comments… add one }

  • Amber June 11, 2012, 1:31 pm

    Thanks so much for getting back to me and for the reassurance on the paste. This is my first attempt at curry, so I was a little intimidated by choosing the wrong paste. I called around, and most of the local grocers had curries from the states so I knew those couldn’t be as good. We don’t have any Thai only grocers in our area, but we fortunately do have a few Asian markets. Uwajimaya was my pick. Thanks again for the great recipe and advice!!!

    Reply
  • Rachel June 11, 2012, 11:56 am

    Hi Amber! Mae Ploy is a well-recognized brand of curry paste that’s made in Thailand, so it should also work quite well. You’re right that the Mae Anong brand is harder to find – I can generally only find it at some Thai-specific grocery stores (and I’ve seen it online).

    Reply
  • Amber June 11, 2012, 10:39 am

    Have you tried Mae Ploy curry paste before? I’d really like to make this tonight, but cannot seem to find the Mae Anong paste anywhere! I even called around to our local Asian markets; they have Mae Ploy and one other. Or any suggestions on where to find Mae Anong brand?

    Reply
  • Raven May 14, 2012, 2:20 pm

    Wow, this looks insanely delicious! Trying it this weekend and making notes to my Thai recipe: http://www.cookeatdelicious.com/thai-recipes/thai-yellow-curry-recipe.html
    Thanks!

    Reply
  • Rachel April 26, 2012, 8:47 pm

    Kate, I wouldn’t recommend using curry powder as a substitute for curry paste. Curry paste has additional herbs in it which make a huge difference in the richness and taste of the overall dish.

    Reply
  • Kate April 26, 2012, 10:49 am

    Can Curry Powder be used in stead of curry paste?

    Reply
  • Sarah April 24, 2012, 6:04 am

    I made this last night and it was SO good! Thanks :)

    Reply
  • Smitha April 16, 2012, 8:26 am

    I LOVE yellow curry! This recipe looks easy enough…gonna try it tonight And hope it comes out tasting as amazing as your pic looks!
    Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
  • Jon Hart April 16, 2012, 2:42 am

    Hey
    Great dish Rachel – I tried a YC the other night for the first time I’ve given it a go and it came out deluxe.
    Hey, I notice you have created this site in TypePad – why did you choose it over WordPress? Your layout simple and functional – did you require custom CSS? What theme did you start with?
    My only comment is that by inserting ads on the RHS, you poison the visuals.
    Really nice site, balance of images and text.
    Cheers
    Jon :)
    PS: Whilst a different subject, have a look at http://www.radiohotlap.com – a light-hearted look at the world of motor racing, cool emerging technologies, gadgets and BBQ’s, Aussie Style. Wordpress.

    Reply
  • Rachel February 27, 2012, 7:11 am

    I’m really glad he liked it, Carol!

    Reply
  • Carol February 26, 2012, 7:58 pm

    My husband is Asian. He is very picky about his Curry. I was able to get most of the ingredients at the local store. Found yellow curry in China Town of St. Louis, MO. He came home and was very pleasantly surprised by dinner. Thank you for the recipe. He wants me to frame it, because it was so good. I added to my recipe folder.

    Reply
  • Rachel February 20, 2012, 10:30 pm

    Thanks, Jessie. I haven’t posted a recipe for massaman curry yet, but it’s certainly on my list of things to do.

    Reply
  • Jessie February 20, 2012, 7:09 am

    Hi Rachel,
    This looks delicious! I just ordered my curry paste to try this out. I especially like your “Pantry” feature, it’s great to have recommendations about which ingredients are the best. Do you have a recipe for a massaman curry? I’d love to see one!

    Reply
  • emma February 19, 2012, 8:17 am

    oh man, what a find this blog is. I’m an australian in portugal, where there is no thai food whatsoever. Can you imagine a life without thai? It’s just wrong. I rely on a stock of pastes, bought on OS trips. You can get coconut milk here, but then forget all the herbs, and noodles are priced for millionaires only. The husband (a pom) is a convert to asian food (I like to make vietnamese & lao dishes and a laksa occaisionally, all thoroughly improvised) and certainly thai curries compete for the A list ahead of Indian. Thanks for your blog and mouthwatering photography. Keep up the good work.
    Must go and defrost some chicken. I’m substituting potato for sweet potato… Yum!

    Reply
  • Bill February 16, 2012, 7:52 pm

    Hi. First time cooking Thai. Your directions made it simple. I used tofu instead of chicken. For Darcia above, I pressed the water out of the tofu and added just like the chicken with no trouble. This was fantastic. I had this dish at a local Thai restaurant and this came out every bit as good. Thank you. Now…what to try next…..

    Reply
  • Rachel February 12, 2012, 9:30 pm

    Hi Erica, I’d probably just add a little less curry paste. Good luck!

    Reply
  • Erica Williams February 9, 2012, 9:31 pm

    I tried this last night and it was tasty, but the curry was a little too spicy for my tase. How do I cut down on the heat? Do I add more coconut milk? Or is there another ingredient that I should use?

    Reply
  • joe January 31, 2012, 1:40 pm

    i made this last night – it wasn’t very sweet, kind of had a bitter taste…ended up adding about 3 tablespoons of sugar before it had the flavor I’m used to…anyone had similiar experience.

    Reply
  • Rachel January 13, 2012, 9:32 pm

    I’m so impressed that you made your own paste, Darcia! I don’t have a set time to cook the curry paste, but I guess its generally about a minute or two, just enough to let all the flavors come out but without burning it. And I’ve never made this with tofu, but I would imagine adding it in place of the chicken and using less water for shorter cooking time would work well. Thanks for stopping by!

    Reply
  • Darcia January 11, 2012, 7:01 pm

    At what point does the coconut milk cream and curry paste smell “fragrant?” I mean, I thought it smelled really good instantly, but still left it to cook a while since I thought that that was what you meant. I’m curious, though, if there’s a rough time for the paste and cream to saute. I couldn’t wait to make it and so I made my own paste so I could have it for supper (my Asian store was out of paste!). My order of paste is coming Saturday and I’m already planning to have it then to see the difference between the the real paste and my own creation. =) One other question, I always get the tofu yellow curry when we eat out, so do you have any directions for adding tofu if you were making that type? Thanks, Rachel!

    Reply
  • Rachel January 7, 2012, 3:37 pm

    Thanks for the suggestion, Veit. I’m actually working on that right now :)

    Reply
  • Veit January 5, 2012, 11:27 pm

    Hi Rachel,
    Great recipe! It would be fantastic if you could have a print feature added to your recipes that would allow to print the recipe (and comments) only. Just a thought.
    Veit

    Reply
  • Rachel January 2, 2012, 6:44 am

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Phil! I appreciate your suggestions. I agree with you that yellow curry shouldn’t be too dilute and ours doesn’t generally turn out that way, but of course feel free to adjust the water content so that yours doesn’t either.
    I believe that many Thais also eat yellow curry with ahjaad, a chilled salad of cucumbers, shallots, chilis, vinegar, and sugar (same recipe as here: http://www.rachelcooksthai.com/home/2011/10/chicken-satay-one-year-later.html). This helps to boost the flavor of the yellow curry, as it is usually not cooked with kaffir lime leaves and/or basil like many of the other Thai curries are.
    Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll look forward to hearing more about your journey with cooking Thai food in the future! It’s certainly been an adventure for me so far :)

    Reply
  • Phil December 29, 2011, 11:15 am

    I’m also going to chime in on the “too much water” theme with Dan… if you put 2 or even 2 cups of water in with the curry paste/coconut milk it takes a long time for it to boil off and thicken and in that time the chicken gets overcooked and dried out/tough. I also dont like my curry soupy and as one who has traveled to Thailand and had yellow curry and all other types countless times I have never had it once cooked soupy unless at a really poor quality Americanized Thai restaurant. Should be just a bit thicker than gravy a little oily and not make the rice soggy in my humble opinion.
    Lastly, the above recipe is about 1/4 the authentic spiciness level and again seems Americanized. Might want to add an option for those who like it spicy, like add some chili!! ;)
    Oah and adding a bay leaf or an additional sprig of lemon grass really makes it pop!
    Just some friendly suggestions here. I applaud you for your Thai adventures and your blog. I will be coming here often as I undertake the journey of teaching myself how to cook Thai. Happy NY!

    Reply
  • Rachel December 11, 2011, 8:52 pm

    Hi Kayle, if you click on the link for yellow curry on my “pantry” page, you can buy the brand I use online. Otherwise, there are generally other brands available at most Asian markets like Ranch 99 and such… Good luck!

    Reply
  • Kayle December 10, 2011, 11:31 pm

    Help!!! Where do I find yellow curry paste. I can’t wait to try…..

    Reply
  • Rachel November 13, 2011, 8:49 pm

    Hi Will – Yellow curry is by nature not as spicy as other Thai curries like green or red, but if you wanted to spice it up, you could pound a few red Thai chili peppers with the paste before using.

    Reply
  • Will November 13, 2011, 7:11 pm

    Suggestions for spicing it up?

    Reply
  • Rachel November 6, 2011, 12:58 pm

    Sure Alycia, fish works really well with curry.

    Reply
  • Alycia November 6, 2011, 8:31 am

    Can I use fish instead of chicken?

    Reply
  • Rachel October 11, 2011, 8:23 am

    Hi Dub, you could use salt instead of fish sauce in a pinch :) I’m not sure it would be a 1:1 conversion, so just taste as you go. And it might not be necessary at all because some curry pastes already have plenty of salt in them.

    Reply
  • dub11 October 10, 2011, 8:04 am

    This sounds yummy,, have everything except the fish sauce?? reckon I could get away with not using it???

    Reply
  • Rachel October 3, 2011, 8:35 am

    Thanks, Maria! Just keeping this blog up keeps me pretty busy outside of my day job, but I’ll keep videos in mind for the future :)

    Reply
  • Maria September 29, 2011, 8:08 pm

    Hey Rachel!
    I love the fact how it is easy to follow the recipes you created and the pictures to show what ingredients to buy and use so that I could buy them myself in a Thai marketplace. I don’t have to be a noob and ask around how to make Thai food.
    I hope you make more recipes and keep this going!
    It would be awesome if you made a youtube video! I would totally subscribe to you :)

    Reply
  • Rachel September 27, 2011, 6:02 pm

    Great to hear, Sana!

    Reply
  • sana September 27, 2011, 12:05 pm

    I just made it and we loved it. My kids normaly dont like Thai food, but this dish they loved it. Thanks.
    Sana

    Reply
  • Sana September 27, 2011, 1:54 am

    I will make this diss tonight for my and the kids.
    I will let you know how the taste was. Keep up the good work.
    Sana from the Netherlands

    Reply
  • Rachel September 26, 2011, 8:08 am

    Thanks for the feedback Dan. The amount of water really depends on how long you cook it for (and hence how much evaporates). If it’s too thin, just leave the curry on the stove for a little longer when you have just the chicken in until it’s the consistency you want – then you can add the veggies and season.
    The best thing about cooking for yourself is that you can determine how thick you want your curry to be!

    Reply
  • Dan September 25, 2011, 5:23 pm

    Just tried this reciped. It’s not bad, but there seems to be too much water. It really dulls the coconut flavor.

    Reply
  • Rachel August 25, 2011, 8:44 pm

    Rachel – sorry for not specifying the servings! Most recipes on this blog make 3-4 servings – one for me, one for the boyfriend, and one to two for dinner guests or lunch the next day.

    Reply
  • Rachel August 25, 2011, 8:40 pm

    Reese – thanks for the opportunity to share it!

    Reply
  • Rachel August 25, 2011, 8:41 am

    How many servings are in this recipe? It looks delicious.

    Reply
  • Reese@SeasonwithSpice August 24, 2011, 3:22 am

    Hi Rachel,
    We just want to say a big thank you for sharing this delicious Thai curry on Season with Spice for the curry event. We’re sure many will find that it is not difficult to cook up a bowl of curry at all. This Thai curry is very similar to Malaysian curry too. The only difference lies on the fish sauce.
    Love all your Thai recipes and stories!

    Reply
  • Rachel August 2, 2011, 6:00 pm

    Hi Souda – yep, you’re right about the curry and the noodles! the recipe for pad kee mao is actually coming up next…

    Reply
  • Souda July 31, 2011, 7:40 pm

    ooooo yum! is this called ” gang ga lee” ? I have to try this!!! how about drunken noodles? is that pad kee Mao ??

    Reply
  • Rachel July 18, 2011, 10:39 pm

    Thanks everyone! Lisa – I also have a kaffir lime tree and love using its leaves as much as I can…

    Reply
  • daryl July 18, 2011, 6:50 am

    Making this right now with the addition of cauliflower. Smells great! @Sasha, the yellow curry is pretty much the Thai version of an Indian curry. Most people would describe it as “mellow” compared to the red or green. Make sure you taste first before adding sugar, since some of the pre-made yellow pastes can be cloyingly sweet to begin with.

    Reply
  • lisaiscooking July 18, 2011, 6:34 am

    The color looks so great! I just decided I want this for lunch. Love the sliced lime leaves on top. I have a tiny kaffir lime tree and love using the leaves!

    Reply
  • kristina July 16, 2011, 4:13 pm

    I will absolutely be making this! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Sasha @ The Procrastobaker July 16, 2011, 2:04 pm

    What a stupidly easy recipe! Thai curry paste is a great stand by to have for a quick but deceivingly tasty evening meal, and i have both green and red here but have never had the yellow version! if you could describe it, how would you say they compare? Lovely recipe thank you, will definitely try it out if i get my mitts on some yellow stuff!

    Reply
    • Rosemarie August 7, 2014, 1:54 am

      I’ve used red curry paste in the past because I myself can’t find yellow curry paste. It still taste good, but I had to put half of what is called for as the red curry is too spicy for my family.

    • Sherri February 28, 2015, 3:14 am

      You can buy the yellow at this place…Mae Ploy yellow curry is what we buy…it is very good…I have learned to make chicken curry and use the yellow…its fabulous!!! Hope you go and get some!!!

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