Thai Jungle Curry – Kaeng Pa

Serves 4 | 20 mins cooking | 15 mins preparation

This is a recipe for the famous Thai Jungle Curry from the mountainous region of Chiang Mai. Traditionally made with whatever vegetables were found in the jungle and the meat or fish from the days hunt, though I am using chicken you can use the exact same recipe using any meat or firm fish.

This is a very spicy dish and it should NOT contain coconut milk, though some recipes you will find online adds it for some reason, it is better if you don’t

While you can use a generic red curry paste it won’t give you the right flavour and really you need to make your own, while it can take a little time with a pestle and mortar you can use a food processor to make in just a couple of minutes and is worth the extra effort to make it authentic.


For the curry paste

  • 25g Garlic
  • 25g Shallots
  • 25g Dried Chillies
  • 1/2 tsp Galangal (I used ginger this time)
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 1/2 tsp coriander stalks
  • 1tsp White pepper
  • 1tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1tbsp Coriander seeds
  • 1/2tbsp Shrimp paste

For the Curry

  • 6-8 Chicken thighs – chopped into bitesize pieces
  • 4 Thai aubergines – cut into quarters (or regular aubergine cut in chunks)
  • Small handful of pea aubergines
  • 1 long red chilli – sliced
  • Green peppercorns – if you can find otherwise leave them out
  • 4-5 Kaffir lime leaves
  • Handful of coriander leaves
  • Handful of Holy basil – if not use Thai or regular basil
  • 2tsp palm sugar – or regular white or brown sugar
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 2tbsp fish sauce

You can add any other vegetable you like or have to hand, e.g. baby sweetcorn, long/green beans, carrots etc


  1. To make the paste roughly chop all the paste ingredients and add to the blender, blend for a couple of minutes until you get a course paste (I added a small splash of vegetable oil this time as it was a little dry at first)
  2. Add a couple tbsp of vegetable oil into a medium hot wok and add your curry paste. Stir around the paste and allow it to fry out to release the fragrance and flavours from the spices about 30-60 seconds, this tastes a lot better than just raw spices.
  3. Add the water into the wok and stir to mix the curry paste. Bring the water to the boil, at this stage add the kaffir lime leaves, salt, sugar and fish sauce
  4. Add the vegetables and chicken and stir, bring back to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes or until the meat is cooked through.
  5. Turn off the heat and immediately stir in the sliced chilli, coriander and basil leaves, stir well and allow the herbs to wilt
  6. Taste and amend seasoning adding any extra salt, sugar or fish sauce as your taste prefers


Serve this with Jasmin rice, also nice with green papaya salad and Thai crispy omelette which helps to reduce the heat a little.

If your not into very spicy food then I would suggest just frying half of your curry paste and once you have added the water and bought it to a boil you can taste and decide if any and how much more of your curry paste you want to add at this stage

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