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No Curry Experience? This Easy Thai Yellow Curry is No Problem

Of the three major Thai curries — red, yellow and green — yellow curry is the most popular worldwide, thanks to its milder, sweeter taste. Our veggie variation is by Thai chef Pailin Chongchitnant of the mega-popular YouTube channel “Pailin’s Kitchen.”

Born and raised in Thailand and now based in Vancouver, Canada, Chef Pailin “Pai” Chongchitnant is one of the biggest names in Thai cooking on the internet. Just ask the whopping 1.35 million subscribers to her YouTube channel, Pailin’s Kitchen. Her cooking videos balance education with fun and ease, making authentic Thai cuisine accessible to people of any experience level, and she shared some key curry-making insight with CE. 

Clean Eating: What makes Thai cuisine special?
Pailin Chongchitnant: It treats all flavors — sweet, salty, sour and spicy — with equal importance. In any well-balanced Thai meal, all these flavors will make an appearance. We’re also big on fresh herbs. Thai curries also have a light consistency, usually soupy or brothy, not rich and thick like Indian curries.

CE: How do you choose the spices used in your cooking?
PC: I always choose curry pastes made in Thailand. The ingredient list shouldn’t have anything other than herbs, spices, salt and shrimp paste. If the name of the brand is Thai, that’s even better.

CE: What are your top tips for building an authentically Thai curry?
PC: I’ve provided a delicious, authentic optional curry paste recipe, but don’t stress too much over making curry paste from scratch — it’s a lot of work, and most Thai cooks don’t do it either. Make sure you buy a good paste, as per the tips above. If you do make it from scratch, get the right ingredients for the best flavors. If you have to make multiple substitutions or omissions from the paste recipe, it’s probably better to buy it premade.

A lot of Thai curry recipes will ask you to sauté the curry paste in oil and then add coconut milk. But traditionally, we sauté the curry paste in reduced coconut milk, so no oil is used. Using reduced coconut milk adds so much more flavor and richness, and you’re using a healthier fat than oil.

If you want to go all in and become a from-scratch expert, you can make Chongchitnant’s Chef’s Signature Yellow Curry Paste from scratch. Or, if you’re in a hurry, you can skip it. This curry is totally adaptable depending on how much time you have.

And you can tweak the ingredients to suit your preferences or nutritional needs too. For a more protein-rich meal, Pailin recommends subbing half the veg for tofu or chicken.

Thai Yellow Curry with Fall Vegetables

  • 1⁄2 oz dried mild chiles, such as guajillo or puya
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted
  • 3⁄4 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
  • 1⁄4 tsp white peppercorns
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 2-inch piece lemongrass, bottom half only, finely sliced (TIP: Remove fibrous outer layers and slice tender inner portion.)
  • 1 1-inch piece turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 1⁄2-inch piece galangal, roughly chopped
  • 1 1⁄2-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped shallots
  • 3–4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fermented shrimp paste, optional
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bulb and pale green parts, sliced lengthwise and bruised with a knife
  • 5 tbsp yellow Thai curry paste (TIP: Try store-bought, or make our homemade version. If using homemade, skip Step 1 and omit garlic, ginger and lemongrass from this recipe.)
  • 1 15-oz BPA-free can full-fat coconut milk, divided
  • 1 1⁄2 cups unsalted vegetable or chicken stock, or as needed
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1–2 tbsp Thai tamarind paste or Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1⁄2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 cups peeled and cubed yam or sweet potato
  • 2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (or unpeeled and cubed kabocha squash)
  • 1⁄2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1⁄2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, pierced with the tip of a paring knife
  • crispy fried shallots, for garnish (TIP: Purchase premade fried shallots, or try our recipe.)
  • fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish

  1. In a medium pot on medium-low, heat oil. Add garlic, ginger and lemongrass and cook until fragrant, stirring, 1 minute.
  2. Add curry paste; stir until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add one-half of coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Stir in remaining coconut milk, stock, fish sauce, tamarind and sugar. Return to a simmer.
  3. Stir in yam, squash and onions. Loosely cover and cook on medium-low, 5 minutes. Stir in cauliflower and simmer 15 minutes more, or until veggies are tender. (TIP: Vegetables should be submerged; add more stock or water as needed.)
  4. Adjust fish sauce and tamarind paste to taste. Turn off heat and stir in tomatoes. Set aside, 4 to 5 minutes. Top with shallots and cilantro. Serve with jasmine rice.

  • Serving Size 1⁄4 of recipe
  • Calories 446
  • Carbohydrate Content 49 g
  • Cholesterol Content 1 mg
  • Fat Content 28 g
  • Fiber Content 7 g
  • Protein Content 8 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 23.5 g
  • Sodium Content 585 mg
  • Sugar Content 16 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 1 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 1 g

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Vegetarian,curry,Freezable,Gluten-Free,Vegetable Curry

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