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Authentic Thai Red Curry
(Gaeng Phed)

Thai Red Curry, or Gaeng Phed, is a popular, authentic Thai dish that has its roots in the central and northern regions of Thailand. This flavorful curry is characterized by its rich, aromatic sauce made from red curry paste, coconut milk, and a medley of spices. With a variety of protein options and fresh vegetables, Gaeng Phed is a versatile dish that can be customized to suit individual tastes. In this recipe, we'll guide you through the steps to make an authentic Thai Red Curry that'll transport your taste buds to the Land of Smiles.

Makes 2 - 4 servings


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 4 tbsp red curry paste (preferably homemade, see tips)

  • 2 cups coconut milk (full fat)

  • 1 cup chicken broth (or water)

  • 1 lb (450g) chicken breast or thighs, sliced into thin strips

  • 1 cup bamboo shoots, thinly sliced

  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

  • 1 cup Thai eggplant, quartered

  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, torn

  • 1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)

  • 2 tbsp fish sauce

  • 1 cup Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped

  • 2 red Thai bird's eye chilies, sliced (optional, for extra heat)

  • Steamed jasmine rice, to serve



  1. In a large skillet or wok, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the red curry paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly until fragrant.

  2. Gradually pour in the coconut milk, stirring to combine with the curry paste. Add the chicken broth, and bring the mixture to a gentle boil.

  3. Add the chicken pieces and bamboo shoots to the skillet, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  4. Add the red bell pepper, Thai eggplant, and kaffir lime leaves to the curry. Stir well and let it cook for another 8-10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through.

  5. Stir in the palm sugar, fish sauce, and Thai basil leaves. Adjust the seasoning to taste, and add the sliced red Thai bird's eye chilies if desired.

  6. Remove from heat and let the curry sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. Serve hot over steamed jasmine rice.

Many of the authentic Thai ingredients used in this recipe can be found at local Asian grocery stores, international markets, or even online retailers. Here's a guide on where to find some of the key ingredients:

  1. Red curry paste: This can be found in the Asian or international aisle of most grocery stores or at local Asian supermarkets. For a more authentic taste, search for a Thai brand like Mae Ploy or Maesri. Alternatively, consider making your own red curry paste from scratch using the tip provided in the recipe.

  2. Coconut milk: Coconut milk is widely available in most grocery stores, usually in the Asian or international food section. Look for full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk for the best flavor and consistency.

  3. Thai eggplant: These small, round eggplants can be found at Asian grocery stores or international markets, particularly those that specialize in Southeast Asian ingredients. If you can't find Thai eggplant, you can use Japanese or Chinese eggplant as a substitute.

  4. Kaffir lime leaves: These fragrant leaves are often available fresh or frozen at Asian supermarkets. If you can't find them, you can substitute with a combination of regular lime zest and lemon leaves, although the flavor will be slightly different.

  5. Palm sugar: This natural sugar can be found at Asian grocery stores, international markets, or online retailers. If you can't find palm sugar, you can use brown sugar as a substitute.

  6. Fish sauce: Fish sauce is a common ingredient in Thai cuisine and can be found in the Asian or international section of most grocery stores. Look for a Thai brand like Squid or Tiparos for a more authentic flavor.

  7. Thai basil: This aromatic herb is typically available at Asian grocery stores, international markets, or farmer's markets. If you can't find Thai basil, you can substitute with regular sweet basil, although the flavor will be milder.

  8. Thai bird's eye chilies: These small, fiery chilies can be found fresh or dried at Asian grocery stores or international markets. If you can't find them, you can use other small, hot chilies like serrano or cayenne, but adjust the quantity to your desired heat level.

Remember that many of these ingredients can also be found online through retailers like Amazon or specialty stores like, which specialize in Thai ingredients.

Tips for a Better Thai Red Curry:

  • For a truly authentic taste, consider making your own red curry paste from scratch. This can be done by blending dried red chilies, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime zest, coriander root, shrimp paste, and salt in a mortar and pestle or food processor.

  • Feel free to substitute the chicken with other proteins like beef, pork, shrimp, or tofu. Just remember to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

  • Adjust the spiciness of the curry by increasing or decreasing the amount of red curry paste and Thai bird's eye chilies used.

  • Use full-fat coconut milk for a richer, creamier curry. Low-fat coconut milk can result in a less flavorful and thinner sauce.

  • Serve the curry with traditional Thai accompaniments like steamed jasmine rice, rice noodles, or roti bread.

With these tips in mind, you'll be well on your way to creating a truly authentic and delicious Thai Red Curry that's sure to impress your guests. Happy cooking!

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