7 must-try Thai curries

Thai curries are known for their depth of flavour with a mix of aromatic spices helping to make them so tasty. Thai curries also come in different colours and with a range of spiciness so even if you try one that is not to your liking there is sure to be one that you fall in love with. Check out our suggestions for seven different Thai curries to try during your next trip to Thailand. 

Green curry 

A flavour-packed sweet green curry (gaeng khiao wan) is one of Thailand’s most famous dishes. This is a dish which originates from Central Thailand, but can be found on menus across the country from Chiang Mai in the north to Phuket in the south. The most commonly used protein in a green curry is chicken (gai), but alternatives can include pork (moo) or beef (nuea).

Gaeng khiao wan gai
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Pea aubergines give the curry added texture while the all-important curry paste gives the broth its colour. An all-time classic Thai dish, be sure to try gaeng khiao wan during your travels in Thailand.

Red curry

This is another popular curry dish that can be found on menus across Thailand. Red curry (gaeng pet) is typically spicier than the sweeter-tasting green curry with the enticing redness of the dish derived from the chillies used. Chicken is often used as the main ingredient in a red curry, but you can also find varieties that include beef, duck or seafood.

Gaeng pet gai (red curry with chicken)
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Yellow curry

The distinctive colour of the yellow curry comes from the turmeric used. Known as gaeng kari, this should not be confused with the more pungent gaeng leuang (aka gaeng som) which is a popular Southern Thai dish. Gaeng kari is a good choice if you don’t like your food too spicy, but still like it to pack in the flavour.

Massaman curry

The ever-popular massaman curry (gaeng massaman) regularly pops up on lists of the world’s best food. In 2020, CNN Travel nominated massaman curry as the number one dish in their list of “The World’s 50 Best Foods”. 

Massaman gai
(Photo: Nawamin Pinpathomrat)

The precise origins of massaman curry are open to debate, but this is a dish with a Muslim influence and is associated with Southern Thailand. Unusually for Thai cuisine, this curry uses potato to go with the meat which is normally beef or chicken. Gaeng massaman is a mild curry with subtle flavour added by spices including cinnamon and cardamom.

Panang curry

Out of all the different Thai curries, panang (you may also see it written as ‘phanaeng’ or ‘panaeng’) is probably the creamiest and richest. This is a versatile dish and in Thailand’s coastal locations you may see it served with a choice of fish, crab or shrimp instead of the more common beef, chicken or pork. 

Panang gai
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Khao soi

Khao soi seems to be one of those Thai dishes that tourists love as much as locals. Often described as Northern Thailand’s signature dish, khao soi is a tasty combination of soft and crispy noodles in a tasty curry broth. Khao soi is usually served with chicken (khao soi gai), but other varieties can include beef or pork instead. 

Khao soi gai
(Photo: Roy Cavanagh)

Khao soi is served with a side dish that normally includes lime, pickled cabbage, shallots and dried curry paste. You can find khao soi in towns and villages throughout North Thailand with  Chiang Mai offering the biggest choice of venues to sample this delicious curry. 

Hinlay curry

With its origins in neighbouring Burma, gaeng hinlay is a curry dish found throughout North Thailand. Stewed pork belly and ribs are cooked with a variety of aromatic spices, including ginger, to make this a rich, comforting food which is best eaten as part of a shared larger meal.

Gaeng hinlay
(Photo: Shutterstock)
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