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A classic Thai dish not to be missed

is definitely Gaeng Khiew Waan

or Green Curry. Its rich flavour

has a strong kick of spiciness that

may challenge some palates, yet

every fragrant spoonful offers an

authentic Thai taste.

During the Ayutthaya period, locals in this central part

of Thailand adapted recipes from Gaeng Liang (spicy

mixed vegetable soup) and Gaeng Paa (hot and spicy

red curry) – both served as a base for new creations.

First came dishes like Gaeng Daeng or Gaeng Phed

(both are red curries) from existing recipes. Then

with more creativity, they invented a new meal for

the dining table – Gaeng Khiew Waan – by adding

a hand-pounded paste of green chillies, chilli leaves

and coriander roots as ingredients to make the curry

greener. It explains why they called it Gaeng Khiew,

or green curry. The word ‘waan,’ which means sweet,

does not come from a sweet taste, though. It’s the

Thai description for the soft green colour when fresh

coconut milk gets blended into the curry. This was

how the classic Thai recipe originated and is now

ranked at 19 out of 50 of the most popular dishes

across the globe.

In the old days, Gaeng Khiew Waan was prepared

using a salt base with the belief that the natural

sweetness from the coconut milk and meat was

enough to make it taste good. Ingredients used in the

making of Gaeng Khiew Waan include garlic, shallots,

lemongrass, coriander, chilli peppers, cumin and

galangal to lessen the meat odour as well as boost

the taste of the curry soup. With the exception of

ground spices and chillies; meat and ingredients such

as devil’s figs, Thai eggplants and bamboo shoots can

be substituted. When the curry is ready, sweet basil,

kaffir lime leaves and pieces of red chillies can garnish

the dish and give it a bold colour and beautiful


Gaeng Khiew Waan is normally made with various

kinds of meats – beef, pork, chicken, fish and fishballs –

and served with steamed rice or Khanom Jeen

(fresh rice noodles).

Gaeng Khiew Waan

Nutrition Facts:

This dish provides the average amount

of daily protein and is high in fat, but its

nutritional value makes Gaeng Khiew Waan

good for increasing vitamin, mineral and

protein intake. The dish is high in fibre,

from devil’s figs and other vegetable




(the easy and store-bought way that

skips pounding all ingredients in a

mortar to make the green curry paste)


• 2 cups of coconut milk

• 2-3 tbsp green curry paste

• 1/2 kg of desired meat,

cut into bite-size strips

• 1/4 kg small, round Thai eggplants

(makhuea proh), cut in halves or

quarters, or substitute with 2

long Asian eggplants, cut in

bite-size chunks

• 1/2 cup of small devil’s figs

(makhuea phuang)

• 2 kaffir lime leaves (bai makrood)

• Fish sauce (nam plaa) to taste

• 2 tsp palm sugar

• 1/2 cup fresh Thai sweet basil leaves

(bai horapha)

• Slivered chillies, adjusted to

desired hotness

Cooking Steps

Do not shake the can of coconut

milk before opening, so that the

cream remains on top. Spoon about

2/3rd cup of this thick cream into

a medium-size saucepan and heat

over medium to high heat. Reduce

amount of cream until smooth and

bubbly or until oil begins to separate

from the cream. Add the curry

paste and fry in the cream for a few

minutes to release the aromas.

Then add the protein of choice

and cook it just so and pour in the

remaining milk.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and

simmer 5-10 minutes uncovered

before adding the Thai eggplants.

Simmer a few minutes more, then

stir in the devil’s figs and kaffir lime

leaves. Season to taste with fish

sauce (may not be needed if the

curry paste is already salty). Add

palm sugar to balance and enhance

the spice and herb flavours to your

liking. Continue to simmer until

eggplants and devil’s figs are tender.

Stir in the basil and chillies (amount

based on preferred spiciness) and

cook another minute. Serve hot

over plain steamed rice or

khanom Jeen noodles.

The Benefits of Thai Herbs

and Spices:

Devil’s Figs

Amazingly a pain killer,

a haemostatic agent

(stops bleeding), alleviate

symptoms of ulcers,

bronchitis and arthritis

Kaffir Lime Leaves

Reduce inflammatory


Sweet Basil

Relieves heartburn, gas,

stomach distension,

encourages appetite

Thai Red and Green

Chilli Peppers

A laxative, carminative agent

(prevents formation of gas).

Relieves cold, phlegm and

creates appetite


Relieves colds and

improves the respiratory



An antibiotic, helps lessen

blood cholesterol,

cancer-fighting properties


Relieves gas, stomach

distension and phlegm


Relieves flatulence

and stomach distension

Coriander Root

A detoxifying agent, heals



Relieves gas and aids in



Is believed to fight cancer,

aids in digestion or

stomach upset and helps

improve bone health.

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