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)
618 Calories
28g Fat
35g Carbs
61g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 618
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 28g 36%
Saturated Fat 20g 100%
Cholesterol 147mg 49%
Sodium 1307mg 57%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 61g
Vitamin C 95mg 477%
Calcium 121mg 9%
Iron 8mg 46%
Potassium 1523mg 32%
*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 red chilis, minced, 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 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed, preferably Thai basil, chopped if large

For Serving:

  • 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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