Thai Jungle Curry From Chiang Mai

Thai Jungle Curry From Chiang Mai

The Spruce / Ali Redmond

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 3 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1000 Calories
71g Fat
23g Carbs
79g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3
Amount per serving
Calories 1000
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 71g 91%
Saturated Fat 38g 188%
Cholesterol 392mg 131%
Sodium 2228mg 97%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 79g
Vitamin C 92mg 459%
Calcium 249mg 19%
Iron 13mg 75%
Potassium 1833mg 39%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Thai jungle curry is a famous dish from the mountain city of Chiang Mai. It is made with ingredients found in the jungles of Thailand. Chicken is used in this version, but pork or other red or wild meats would work well too.

You will notice the lack of certain curry spices like turmeric, coriander, and cumin, which are standard in most recipes. That doesn't mean this curry is lacking in flavor, though. It still has a great spice and the coconut milk adds to the thickness and flavor of the sauce.


  • 4 to 6 skin-on chicken thighs, or breasts or drumsticks

  • 1 to 2 cups eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces

  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, optional

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, for garnish

  • 1 cup basil fresh, for garnish

For the Jungle Curry Sauce:

  • 1/2 onion, diced

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh galangal, or fresh ginger, thinly sliced

  • 2 tablespoons lemongrass, fresh or frozen, minced

  • 6 cloves garlic

  • 1 teaspoon makrut lime leaves, cut into slivers with scissors, or 1 teaspoon grated lime zest

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1 to 2 chile peppers,or 3/4 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste

  • 1/2 lime, juiced

  • 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste, or additional tablespoon fish sauce

  • 1 can coconut milk, good quality

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons brown sugar, optional, to taste

  • 1 tablespoon green peppercorns, optional, jarred with vinegar (available at most Asian food stores)

Steps to Make It

While this curry is traditionally made in a wok by simmering the meat in the sauce, it's easier in the oven where it won't burn or dry out. Also, you may have to make an adjustment to the shrimp paste because they vary greatly. If your paste is very thick or dry, use only 1/2 teaspoon. If it's moist and falls easily from a spoon, add up to 1 teaspoon.

If you don't have a food processor or chopper, you can still make the curry sauce. Finely mince the ingredients and then stir them together in a bowl with the coconut milk.

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat oven to 375 F.

    Thai Jungle Curry From Chiang Mai ingredients

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  2. Place all of the curry sauce ingredients in a food processor. Process well to form a sauce. For smaller choppers, use only a little of the coconut milk—just enough to keep the blades moving—and add the remainder later with the chicken.

    all of the curry sauce ingredients in a food processor.

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  3. Place chicken in a casserole dish and pour the curry sauce over it. Mix together. Cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour. 

    curry poured over the chicken in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  4. Remove curry after 45 minutes and add the vegetables, then return to the oven to bake for the remaining 15 minutes.

    chicken with curry and vegetables in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  5. Check the curry after 1 hour, ensuring the chicken is well cooked. If needed, return to the oven for another 10 minutes or until chicken is well done.

    Thai Jungle Curry From Chiang Mai in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

Serving Jungle Curry

Before serving, stir the sauce well and do a taste test. If it's not salty enough, add a little more fish sauce, 1/2 tablespoon at a time. If it's not spicy enough, add more chili or chili sauce; too spicy, add a little coconut milk or plain yogurt. If it's too sour for your taste, add a little more sugar.

Jungle curry can be served right in the casserole dish. For more formal occasions, scoop the curry into a serving bowl or onto individual plates. Top with generous amounts of fresh coriander and basil. A small "branch" of green peppercorns makes a pretty garnish. Serve with plain rice or easy coconut rice.