Green Curry (P-Mala’s Recipe)

Green Curry with Pork is a staple Thai dish. This is the second green curry recipe on the website, this one was taught to me by P-Mala, a cook for over 20 years. Her green curry was raved about, and she invited me over yesterday to learn from her how she makes it.


Curry Paste


  1. Prepare the ingredients for the curry paste. Slice the lemongrass into thin rounds, peel the skin off the garlic & shallots, slice the galangal and the magroot skin into thin slivers, and remove the stems from the chilies.
  2. In a stone mortar and pestle, start with the drier and harder ingredients first: add the galangal, magroot skin, lemongrass, peppercorns and salt. Smash together until a fairly uniform paste. This may take a few minutes.
  3. Add the wet ingredients: the garlic, shallots and chilies. Do not add the shrimp paste yet. Smash until fairly uniform. This is homestyle curry, so the curry paste isn’t meant to look perfect like at the market. It’s ok (and even preferred) to have it a bit ‘chunky’, but it shouldn’t be not mixed. See picture for finished product.
  4. When finished, add the shrimp paste and pound until mixed well.
  5. Slice the meat into thin slices (as shown in the picture) and set aside. If using fresh coconut milk, separate the head from the tail (milk from cream) and place in two different bowls. If using canned coconut milk, don’t shake the can. Skim the top cream off and place it in a bowl, and place the rest in another. You’ll probably need to thin out the rest with another can’s worth of water, since canned coconut milk is much thicker than fresh.
  6. Heat a wok over medium-high heat and add 1/2 cup of the coconut cream. It should be the same consistency of cow’s milk. If it’s a lot thicker, thin it down with water. Wait until it boils and the oil separates, this should take about 2 minutes.
  7. Add all the curry paste, and mix well. Keep stirring and flipping the paste so it doesn’t burn. You’ll need to cook the paste for about 3 minutes until it becomes quite fragrant and you begin to sneeze. As the paste dries out, and starts to stick to the pan, keep adding more coconut cream a few tablespoons at a time. Don’t let the paste burn.
  8. When the paste is finished cooking, add the meat and 1/2 cup of coconut cream. Cook the meat on medium heat for 15 minutes. Flip and stir every minute or two to prevent burning. If it’s too dry, keep adding coconut cream or milk. It should be a wet fry, almost a simmer. P-Mala said you’ll start to see a light green film, or oil rise to the top towards the end of the cooking time.
  9. Add the palm sugar, and mix well.
  10. Add the rest of the coconut milk (and water if using canned) and bring to a rapid boil. Then add the eggplants and long chilies, and boil for 2 minutes.
  11. Add the lime leaves and basil, remove from heat and serve.


Prepare the curry paste ingredients


Smash the dry paste ingredients


Smash in the wet ingredients


Prepare the vegetables and herbs


Prepare the pork


Fry the coconut cream

Add the Paste

Add the paste, then add the meat and cook

34 thoughts on “Green Curry (P-Mala’s Recipe)

  1. Riya —
    It is quite good. Actually when I ate the curry she made for me, I was sure that it was the best green curry I’ve tried in Thailand. So I’m quite happy to have gotten the recipe to add to the website!

  2. This looks absolutely delicious! I’ve never made curry paste from scratch (been too intimidated!) but this sounds like it’s not that difficult. I can’t wait to try it!

  3. Deborah –
    Green curry is fantastic. I think it’s my favorite Thai curry. I’m afraid if you try it at a Thai restaurant in the US it won’t be quite right. It’s hard to get authentic Thai food over there. 🙂

    Mango –
    It’s not that hard actually. I think it took me about 5 minutes to pound the paste total. Once you do it a few times I think you can whip out a curry from scratch in about 30 minutes. And the best part is you can make a ton of it and store it in the freezer. It freezes fine.

    Good luck, and let me know how it comes out!

  4. hey i love green curry too! just wondering, how many does this amount serve? in your opinion, how much difference will it make to the ingredients if im making it for 6-8 servings? I might use this if guests come to my house for dinner =D really brilliant.

  5. yeah, kanom jeen noodles are available here.

    so which means to say every amount i’d just have to triple the flavour, the same for the curry paste? afraid it might be too spicy though with that amount of small chillis

  6. Jasdekdee-
    Triple everything, the paste, the meat, the coconut milk, etc. Green curry is meant to be very spicy. This recipe is for Thai-level heat, and actually, compared to Jett’s Mom’s recipe it’s rather mild. If you (or your guests!) don’t like to eat Thai-level spicy, simply lower the amount of chilies, but keep the rest of the ingredients at the same amount. You could take away about 25% or so and it would still taste OK.

    And, eating this dish with rice is probably less spicy than Khanom Jeen noodles.

  7. I enjoyed making Green Curry with you on my recent visit to Thailand.
    The step by step preparation was really interesting but the best part was
    shopping at the open market down the street for all of the fresh vegetables and listening to you speak to the vendors and the big smile on their faces!
    The fresh coconut milk that the vendor made by shredding the coconut in the
    shredding machine and then ‘pressing it’ to make the milk with the cream settling at the top was unbelievable. This dish was spectacular and adding the cream of the coconut and then the milk really made the difference. I only wish I had a market like that down MY street!!! I had 2 big helpings!!! 😉

  8. Great recipe. I used it before, but later forgot the name of the site, and had to settle for making mediocre green curries for a few months. The recipes in books (or other websites) really don’t compare. I’d better bookmark the page this time! thanks very much

  9. I finally took the time to make this curry after having it bookmarked for months, and I must say – well worth the wait!! It’s fantastic and spicy – can’t wait for leftovers tonight! 🙂

  10. I have spent the last 4 years working back and forth in Thailand and the US and finished making this. UNREAL. I LOVE the thai green curry and really miss it when I return home. When you go out to order it nothing coes close to what you get in Thailand but this is the real deal!

    Took me some time to find everything but I know what I am doing now so I am sure it will only get better!

    Khap kun khap p-mala ขอบคุณที่ทำให้โลกใบนี้มีชีวิตชีวา

  11. Would it be alright to substitute the pork with other meats–or even tofu–or is the pork the most complementary to the recipe?

  12. I’ve learned to make green curry according to a recipe by Chat Mingkwan (Buddha’s Table). Besides all the ingredients that are listed here for green curry, Chat adds cumin & coriander seeds.
    Now I’m wondering; the traditional green curry doesn’t have cumin & coriander seeds, or is it a regional difference/variation???

  13. I spent the summer of 2008 working in Thailand and fell in love with this dish (it was always served with chicken?)…but now here in the US, every time I order it, it’s too sweet or too spicy and never the right color. It’s always so yellow! 🙁 I’ve tried making it myself using a green curry paste from the market, but it never comes out delicate enough. I can’t seem to make it creamy enough either and it always turns out such a dull green/brown color. I’m so frustrated!

    Everyone seems to think this recipe is the “real deal”, but I’m reluctant to try it. Any thoughts on what key elements make this recipe stand out from others?

  14. I love this recipe! The curry paste looks beautiful and the recipe sounds so authentic. It looks amazing and so aromatic! I can’t wait to try it. Thank you for sharing.

  15. How much does it affect the flavour if you use regular (western) eggplant and not the thai and pea? I have to drive to the other side of the city to the asian market to get those.

    Also, when you say it freezes well, do you just freeze the paste or do you make the whole curry and then freeze that?

    I can’t wait to try this out!

  16. I decided to make the trek all the way across town and got everything I need except the makroot. What sort of flavour does that add? Would regular lime zest be similar enough?

    I was also told by the lady at the asian market that regular eggplant tastes the same as pea eggplant. Anyone able to vouch for this? I did get the thai green eggplant so I’m excited to try those!

    1. hi matt-

      do they have lime leaves? that’s the same leaf that comes from the magroot plant, also sometimes called “kaffir lime”. if you add more of them to the curry when you cook it, it may make up for the flavor. i wouldn’t substitute regular lime skin – just leave it out.

      regular (purple italian) eggplant does not taste like pea eggplant whatsoever. if you can’t find it, just leave it out. maybe add some extra thai eggplants instead!

  17. I substituted milk and coconut juice for the coconut milk which worked fine. Only thing is that because it has less fat than the coconut milk it is spicier. You can add sour cream or something to cut reduce the heat. It has to be something with fat so skim milk won’t help but can be something which has less saturated (‘bad’) fat than coconut milk.

    1. Matt –

      Thanks for the comment, but I do not recommend to the readers to use cow’s milk. Like you said, it doesn’t have enough fat, so the flavors will not come out when you fry it. This dish is meant to be made with coconut cream & coconut milk. If you’re worried about the fat in coconut milk, do what Thais do and don’t drink the juice, just fish for the vegetables and meat inside the curry and eat that with the rice 🙂

  18. Sawasdee na krap 🙂

    It is very nice to se genuine recipes and not westernised recipes 🙂 I have taught myself Thai cooking over 10 years, then refined my techniques with cooking classes and by living with my Thai friends in small villages in Mae Hong Son province of north west Thailand.

    The variety of techniques between provinces is astounding.. and I love them all! Aroy mak mak 😉

    Gang kaew wan mu and gang ped pla are my two favourite curries.. and there are so many more to explore and practice it makes my mind boggle!

    In a restaurant scenario, or street stall in Thailand, curries are cooked quite quickly when prepared fresh, but becuase I largely cook for myself or friends, I take my time, allowing the paste to diffuse its flavours into quality oil for up to an hour or so before adding cocount cream and further allowing to blend over low heat for up to another hour. I never add any ingredients until everthing is prepared, becuase these meals, as for many, are all about timing (and it is timing that you will just have to intuitively develop 😉

    I have quite a number of tips, mostly self-discovered, and some taught by old Thai ladies in remote mountain villages, to enhance the WOW factor, and to enhance the individual key ingredients (such as bai makroot (kaffir lime leaf), king (ginger), chillies (prik) gratiem (garlic), and da krai (lemongrass)). (of note is that I will use king in curries and galangal in soup style dishes such as Tom Yam Goong (prawn) or Tom Ka Gai (chicken) – galangal is much hardier than king and lends itself better to cooking with higher temperatures, im my experience).

    Oh, ok.. one tip – after I serve gang kaew wan to each plate, over artistically formed servings of jasmine rice, I will squeeze the juice of half an ordinary lime over each dish.. of course, the amount should be ‘to you taste’, but it really sets your taste buds into a culinary tizz!!!

    As for coriander, there is a traditional Thai coriander that I find much milder, more delicate and palatable than ‘western’ coriander (although you will see both in Thailand). Thai coriander is referred to in english as ‘spiky coriander, given its long broad and spiky leaves, with a similar scent (western coriander is much to bitter for my personal liking). (I know you can get spiky corainder at Rustys Markets – mostly Hmong and Thai vendors – in Cairns).

    From north to south, east to west, as I said there are many different styles of Thai food, based on centuries old traditions. In the south ingredients seem to be well pounded/pureed whilst in the north ingredients are much ‘chunkier’! Flavous much more coarse but without that bitter strong spice of real southern curries (eg. Hat Yai) – not to say that northern curries cant be extremely hot!

    Personally I love very hot curries, and I delight in Thai street stall cooks looking dumbfounded at me as I hurriedly devour their prik rich dishes 😉

    My favourite Thai dishes include the wide variety of nam prik dishes (chillie sauce). Nam prik Ong(a northern dish) is particularly delicious dish made with tomatoes and minced pork (mu).

    Another delicacy of the north-west provinces is nam prik khua sai (literally translated means chilly sauce fried sand). Its a combination of chillies, garlic, onion and shrimp fried to a grainy texture and stored dry (never refrigeraed. Its absolutely amazing with fresh Kow Nee-o (sticky rice) and grilled pork, and enjoyed with fresh prik, gratiem and topped off with responsibly consumbed shots of Low Kow (traditional rice whisky – locally made, not mass produced). Of course, you have to be sitting with your Thai friends, talking Thai (to your best ability!), on the footpath as you take in the ambience of a northern Thai village, children playing and laughing, cousins, uncles, grandparents and neighbours included 😉

    Enjoy Thai food and Thailand everybody.. and remember, forget the pub talk about Thailand.. travel throughout the provinces, show humbleness and respect for all those who you meet.. and you will have the most remarkable and unforgettable experiences of your entire life.. with NO EXCEPTION 😉


  19. Oh, a couple more comments about various things that others have stated in their comments:

    Firstly, NEVER be afraid to try any Thai dish! You will achieve the greatest advances as a result of your greatest failures.. 🙂 You will learn, by trial and error, what does and doesnt work, sometimes with spectacularly positive results!

    Someone mentioned substituting milk for coconut milk.. not a great idea as the milk can react and curdle with lime juice and the acid of the chillies, unlike the coconut milk (and besides, the coconut milk/cream has such a unique flavour that it just cant be replaced 😉

    Someone else mentioned their curries being brownish and not bright green, remember to use plenty of quaily oil at the start to encapsulate and carry your ingredients – and I use lots of purple thai basil (which is still quite green) in my paste to make a rich bright green curry paste that clings to the oil and sits beautifully in the coconut cream/milk. Pound the basil leaves well to release the colour and flavour!

    The two flavours that I add ‘to taste’ during the cooking process are the juice of fresh lime and nam pla (fish sauce).. I add them just after I add the vegetables.. then test and adjust as the meal develops.

    Another way to lighten and brighten the appearance of your gang kaew wan is to add some fresh coconut cream at the end of the dish, lightly drizzled over your curry – hey.. im giving up more of my tips.. whats going on here?? 😉

    Western egplant, as Cee says, is nothing like Thai eggplant.. so forget it lest you will have a disaster on your hands!!! The best western substitue for Thai eggplant is zucchini.. yep!

    Another trick is to add common western mushrooms, in very large chunks, they will add a wonderful texture and they really absorb the citrus flavours and will excite the palate of the biggest mushroom haters on the planet!!!

    For those who want to cook for more than 2 or three at a sitting, be careful becuase the dynamic of heat and timing COMPLETELY CHANGES when cooking with much greater volumes of ingredients.. you will need to practice this and accept that you will overcook and undercook ingredients until you get it right! If you use pork (mu), add the pork when you add the vegetables, if you use fish (and I recommend trevally, king fish etc – ie. firm fleshed pelagic fish – add the fish closer to the end just as the vegetables are starting to soften.

    Your curry is cooked when the vegetables have softened, but still retain a slightly crunchy texture 😉

    Im an Aussie, and by the sounds of it we have the same issues in Thai restaurants here as in the US.. being that most curries arent so hot, and they are largely FAR too sweet! You can always counter this by asking for “Thai Hot” (you will rarely see this mentioned on the menu); and if sweetnes is the issue, well, you will just have to ask for less sugar next time! (I use about a level table spoon of fine raw brown sugar right at the start).

    Pracice makes perfect folks.. and my green and red curries are not perfectly traditional, but they have delighted friends from across the globe including my Thai chef friends! Respect the traditional ingredients and methods of releasing and combining the flavours.. and great results will follow :))


  20. Just finished serving up this masterpiece, I missed a few ingredients and the taste was slightly off but still exeptional none the less.

    It brings me back to the best times I’ve spent in Thailand. Thank you for this.

  21. The shrimp paste ruined the entire curry paste which originally smell so great, perhaps the amount of shrimp paste is too much. I will suggest to add a little after the curry is fully cooked. That’s why the others commented their green curry is brownish.
    I made green curry without shrimp paste, I think that is better than with shrimp paste. Not because I dont like shrimp paste, but it suppressed totally the aroma of other ingredients.


  22. Our family LOVE’s Thai green curry with chicken!!! But I haven’t had much success finding all of the ingredients. I can’t seem to find Thai basil, even our local Asian market doesn’t get it in that often. Can I substitute basil for Thai basil?

  23. Hi,

    is it ok to use shrimp or chicken in this recipe instead of pork……i tried this in a thai resturant and was really tasty.

    thanks for the answer in advance.

  24. If I make this for guests who are not used to Thai-level spicy, what would you recommend as a non-spicy (or less spicy) second dish, to “balance it out”?

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