Thai Panang Chicken Curry

A bow of Thai panang chicen curry served with rice

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 3 to 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
580 Calories
31g Fat
41g Carbs
42g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 580
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 40%
Saturated Fat 17g 87%
Cholesterol 109mg 36%
Sodium 1211mg 53%
Total Carbohydrate 41g 15%
Dietary Fiber 12g 42%
Protein 42g
Calcium 354mg 27%
*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 panang chicken curry (also spelled penang like the northern Malaysian state) features a warm, rich red curry with flavor notes from Malaysia, Burma, and India. Traditionally, this curry would be simmered on a stovetop or over a wood fire, but this recipe gives directions for the oven to make cooking easier.

Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients in the Thai panang sauce; all of them require little to no preparation and are simply tossed in a food processor or chopper and easily pureed. Then the chicken, seasoning, tomatoes, and bell pepper are cooked in the sauce in the oven. Serve this curry with jasmine rice to make an authentic Thai meal that is simple to put together.

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"Fresh made curries are miles more delicious than pastes from a jar. This recipe yielded a generous amount of curry sauce, rich with complex spices and tomato. If I made this again, I would use a lot more ginger, Thai basil, and more shrimp paste." —Danielle Centoni

Thai Panang Curry Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • For the Curry Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal, or ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 to 2 minced red chilis, or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chili flakes, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 (13 1/2-ounce) can coconut milk, good-quality
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • For the Chicken:
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into large chunks, or skinless bone-in pieces (breast, thighs, or drumsticks)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin
  • 2 makrut lime leaves or bay leaves
  • 3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 loose cup fresh basil leaves, preferably Thai, roughly chopped if large
  • For Serving:
  • Thai jasmine rice (white or whole-grain)

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this Thai panang chicken curry is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for cooking.

Make the Curry Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make Thai panang chicken curry

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. To a food processor work bowl or blender, add all of the curry sauce ingredients. Process until smooth and creamy.

    A food processor with curry sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Pour the sauce into a casserole dish.

    A casserole dish filled with panang curry sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Cook the Curry

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Add the chicken pieces to the casserole dish along with the cumin seed and lime leaves or bay leaves. Mix well.

    A casserole dish filled with panang curry sauce and raw chicken

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Cover the casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes. 

    A casserole dish with Thai panang chicken curry cooked

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Remove from the oven and add the tomatoes and peppers.

    A casserole dish with Thai panang chicken curry sauce and chicken, with tomatoes and peppers

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Stir well, cover the dish, and return to the oven to bake another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken and vegetables are cooked.

    A casserole dish with baked Thai panang chicken curry

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Taste test, balancing out the flavors if necessary. Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves and serve with plenty of Thai jasmine rice.

    A bowl of Thai panang chicken curry served over rice

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Taste Test Tips

  • If not salty enough, add more fish sauce.
  • Add more coconut milk or a little yogurt if it is too spicy.
  • If it's too salty, add more lime juice.

What Is the Difference Between Panang Curry and Red Curry?

Because panang curry is red, these two Thai curries can be confused with each other. The main distinction is that panang curry is typically less spicy than red curry, and has a sweeter flavor.

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