Thailand is known for their delicious curries and if you are traveling through the country, you don’t want to miss the great variety of curries available.
Here is our quick run down of what makes each Thai curry unique.
Considered to be the spiciest curry in Thailand, it is also sweet thanks to the high amount of coconut milk that is added to the dish. The base is made with fresh, young green chilis which makes green curry hotter than other curries and in our opinion one of the best tasting!
While still spicy and a bit sweet, this plays to your savory taste buds more than green curry. The color comes from the bigger red chilies used to create the base. The chilies are crushed with garlic, lemongrass, shallots, ginger and fish paste and added to coconut milk. Red curry is spicier and less rich than yellow curry.
The yellow curry base is made of plenty of tumeric, cumin yellow mustard seed, nutmeg, kaffir lime leaves and juice. While you will find different variations across Thailand, yellow curry contains coconut cream in addition to the coconut milk, and has a rich taste with a sweet, milder flavors than the red and green curry.
While very similar to red curry, Penang is usually seasoned to be less spicy than red curry and has the added ingredient of peanuts that gives it a sweeter flavor.
Masaman doesn’t pack as much heat as the other curries, so it’s a good place to start if you want to try something less spicy. It’s heavily influenced by Indian curries and is by far the sweetest of all the curries. The base is made of cardamon, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, and generally comes with chunks of potato and topped with peanuts. You’ll find a lot of this Chiang Mai.
Khao Soi Curry Soup
Hailing from Northern Thailand, my favorite curry soup is Khao soi. While very different from the other curries on the list, it is a must try when you’re in Thailand! It’s a coconut milk, soup-like dish, similar to yellow or massaman curry but a thinner consistency. It’s topped with egg noodles and served with chicken or beef. This is one of the dishes that represents the Burmese influence on the cuisine in Northern Thailand
Have you tried any of these?
Which is your favorite Thai curry?
Great pics! This is making me hungry!
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) says
I’m so happy that after diligently working on my spice tolerance, I can now eat Thai curries in Thailand no problem. On our first visit back in March 2013, I found them a bit too spicy to really be enjoyable, but now I can order them without a second thought and enjoy their rich, complex flavors.
Really, I think the moral of the story, however, is that when it comes to Thai curries, there is no wrong choice! All are SO DELICIOUS!
NZ Muse says
Thanks for breaking it down! I had no idea and learned a TON from this. Agree with Steph, all are delicious 🙂
Thai green curry is my favourite meal in the world! Next time I’m in Thailand I really need to try Khao Soi, it looks amazing.
This is so useful, particularly with regards to how spicy different curries are – I’m not really a fan of anything too spicy! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Scott n Emily says
Sooooo can’t wait to eat all these. Thanks for the guide.
I love all of these curries! Great post!
Linda Bibb says
I absolutely ADORE Thai curries, so much so that I can’t tell you which one I like the most! That said, I think it might be important to note that shrimp paste is a popular ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine, as many people need to avoid shellfish.
Green curry is not the spiciest curry. It is one of the milder curries with some sweetness. You probably had the northern or northeastern versions of the curry. Their versions are saltier and spicier than the original one from central Thailand. In fact, their green curry is taste pretty much like the red curry in terms of spiciness. and the saltiness. Palm or coconut sugar is used to enhance the sweetness of the coconut milk which is used in abundance in the curry.. I have eaten these curries since I was a child. Originally, the green curry is not as salty but sweeter and creamier than the red. Bird chillies are not the only type of chillies used in the paste. Green cayenne peppers are also used to provide the colour but not the spiciness of the bird chillies.
There used to be Kaho Soi flavor ramen (by Mama, I believe), but, alas, no more, and it’s very hard to find in Thai restaurants abroad. But I’m addicted, and so was my girlfriend after trying it once.
Cannot get my wife to eat Indian curries due, mostly, to the cooking smells. Should I get her to try Thai and which one for a start. She likes the heat of Mexican so it isn’t about heat.
James Wood says
This information is glorious. I used to think “curry” was some kind of yellow spice in a little jar. Talk about tip of the iceberg. Later, for years I’ve looked at Thai menus, knowing I really liked curries, but what are they? How do they differ. I knew how much I favored the penang variety. I’m going to print this page and see if my challenged brain can memorize it. The ultimate goal will be to schlep my poor self to the home base: Thailand. Thank you, Caroline!
Esther Joy says
Thanks for the info! I love red, green, and yellow, but have not tried the other Curry’s!
I will stay away from green and panang curries when I visit Thailand for a month! Massaman and yellow seem to be more my style. I have always loved the orange and yellow curries in Indian restaurants but I had a green curry at a Vietnamese restaurant once and it was like eating lava! Pure heat. I like flavor, not just heat.