Thai red curry recipe

Thai red curry in a glass bowl on wooden table


Thai Red Curry (gluten-free, opt. vegan, contains coconut)

by Wm. Josiah Erikson

NOTE: This is a very flexible recipe – almost any vegetables can be substituted or added, depending on what is in your fridge or to your taste. Additionally, the chicken in this recipe can be replaced with another meat, substituted with tofu or tempeh, or left out altogether. Jasmine or basmati rice is best, but regular white or brown rice is fine. If using brown rice, increase the water content by about ½-¾  cup and cooking time by approximately 15 minutes, or according to directions on the package.

For local folks, Thai basil and red curry paste are available from Mom’s House in Amherst or Tran’s World Food Market in Hadley if you can’t find them at one of the larger supermarkets. If you have food restrictions, be sure to check the list of ingredients, especially as some versions of red curry paste are made with fish.

A NOTE ON FOOD SAFETY: Whenever preparing raw meat, keep it refrigerated until ready to use. Slice it separately from any other ingredients and be sure to wash the knife, cutting board, counter top, and anything else that may have been in contact with the raw meat or juice thoroughly in hot, soapy water before re-use. Also, raw meat does not last long in the refrigerator; therefore, either use it within a day or two of purchase or freeze it for later use. Always smell any raw meat before using it; if it smells bad, don’t try to cook it, feed it to your dog, or anything else –  just throw it away and take note for next time.


Prep time: 5-10 minutes

Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Serves 4-6





4 c water

4 cubes bullion (chicken or vegetable) – optional, but really enhances the rice. If you don’t have bullion, add several dashes of salt to the water.

2 c rice



2 cans coconut milk, well-shaken

2 ½ heaped tablespoons of red curry paste (will give mild-medium spiciness – adjust to taste)

3-4 chicken breasts or thighs sliced into bite-sized strips – optional

1 med onion, sliced

1 bell pepper any color, sliced

1 c beans or snap peas (chopped or not, to taste)

½ small box mushrooms, sliced

1 c carrots, sliced

Thai basil – 3-4 sprigs

Salt and pepper to taste


chopped vegetables



  1. Bring the water and bullion (or salt) to a boil in a large pot; make sure the bullion cubes are thoroughly dissolved. Add the rice, stir briefly to “de-clump” it, cover, and reduce heat to simmer. While the rice is cooking, prepare the remaining ingredients. (Note: After the initial stir, do not stir the rice again while it is cooking. The rice is done when it is tender but still firm and all the water is gone from the pot. Just keep an eye on it and be careful not to burn the bottom of the pot once the water is gone!)
  2. Shake the coconut milk thoroughly before opening (important!!) and then pour into a large saucepan. Add the curry paste and mix thoroughly until paste is dissolved and the mixture is a uniform color.
  3. Add the onion to the coconut milk mixture and simmer for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken and carrots and simmer until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and carrots are softening, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the mushrooms, peppers, and peas or beans and simmer another 5 minutes.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste. If necessary, put the mixture on low heat and cover with a lid while waiting for the rice to finish cooking.
  7. Remove the rice from the heat and fluff with a fork.
  8. Scoop the rice into a bowl and add the vegetable mixture. Top with the Thai basil.




Thai sauces with veggies and chicken in a cast iron skillet

Reeve Gutsell is the Food, Farm, and Sustainability Program Coordinator at Hampshire College. She has a Master's degree in Resource Management and Conservation, as well as a long-term interest in the intersection of agriculture, environmental issues, social justice, and food systems. She enjoys the walking around the farm in all types of weather, and almost always finds something beautiful or interesting to explore.

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