Thai Panang Chicken Curry Recipe

Thai Panang Chicken
The Spruce
  • 90 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 3-4 Portions (3-4 Servings)
Ratings (88)

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. 

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 blitzed. But without those ingredients, your dish will lack the rich, complex flavor it was meant to have.

Traditionally, this curry would be simmered on a stovetop or over a wood fire. For ease of preparation, this recipe gives directions for oven cooking but it can be simmered on a stove top if desired, being sure to cover it and stir occasionally until cooked.


What You'll Need

  • 1 pound chicken pieces (breast, thighs, or drumsticks)
  • 3 tomatoes (cut into wedges)
  • 1 red bell pepper (or sweet red pepper, sliced)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (or substitute bay leaves)
  • 1/2 loose cup fresh basil leaves (left whole or roughly chopped if leaves are large)
  • Curry Sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 small onion (quartered)
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger, 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 whole cumin
  • 1 to 2 red chilis (minced; or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chili flakes, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk (good-quality)

How 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. To a food processor work bowl or blender, add tomato paste, quartered onion, galangal or ginger, garlic, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, fish sauce, shrimp paste, paprika, chili powder, coriander, chiles or cayenne pepper, turmeric cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, coconut milk, and lime juice. Process well.
  1. Pour sauce into a casserole dish. If you'd like more sauce, add up to 1/2 cup good-tasting chicken stock and stir together.

Add the Chicken

  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Add the chicken pieces to the casserole dish along with the cumin seed and lime leaves or bay leaves. Mix well.
  3. Cover casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes. 
  4. Remove from oven and add the tomatoes and peppers.
  5. Stir well, then return to oven to bake another 15 to 20 minutes, or until both chicken and vegetables are cooked.
  6. Do a taste test and add more fish sauce if not salty enough or more coconut milk or a little yogurt if it is too spicy. If it's too salty, add more lime juice.
  7. Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves and serve with plenty of Thai jasmine rice (white or whole-grain).
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 580
Total Fat 31 g
Saturated Fat 17 g
Unsaturated Fat 7 g
Cholesterol 109 mg
Sodium 1,211 mg
Carbohydrates 41 g
Dietary Fiber 12 g
Protein 42 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)