Thai Panang Chicken Curry

Have you had panang curry yet? Panang curry is a rich and creamy, spicy yet balanced, peanutty coconut sauce.

I make my panang curry with lots of bell peppers and carrots, and optional tofu for extra protein. It’s a perfectly satisfying weeknight meal for cold days.

Thai Panang Chicken Curry

Thai panang chicken curry (also spelled penang like the northern Malaysian state) features a warm, rich red curry with flavor notes from Malaysia, Burma, and India. 
Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients in the Thai panang sauce. All of them require little to no preparation and are simply tossed in a food processor or chopper and easily blitzed. But without those ingredients, your dish will lack the rich, complex flavor it was meant to have.
Traditionally, this curry would be simmered on a stovetop or over a wood fire. For ease of preparation, this recipe gives directions for oven cooking, but it can be simmered on a stovetop if desired, being sure to cover it and stir occasionally until cooked.
Calories 954 kcal


For the Curry Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 small onion quartered
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 to 2 red chilis minced; or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chili flakes, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk (good-quality)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

For the Chicken

  • 1 pound chicken pieces breast, thighs, or drumsticks
  • 3 tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 1 red bell pepper or sweet red pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin
  • 2 makrut lime leaves or substitute bay leaves
  • 1/2 loose cup fresh basil leaves left whole or roughly chopped if leaves are large


  • Gather the ingredients.
  • To a food processor work bowl or blender, add tomato paste, quartered onion, galangal or ginger, garlic, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, fish sauce, shrimp paste, paprika, chili powder, coriander, chiles or cayenne pepper, turmeric cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, coconut milk, and lime juice. Process well.
  • Pour sauce into a casserole dish. If you’d like more sauce, add up to 1/2 cup good-tasting chicken stock and stir together.

Cook the Chicken

  • Heat oven to 375 F.
  • Add the chicken pieces to the casserole dish along with the cumin seed and lime leaves or bay leaves. Mix well.
  • Cover casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and add the tomatoes and peppers.
  • Stir well, then return to oven to bake another 15 to 20 minutes, or until both chicken and vegetables are cooked.
  • Taste test and then sprinkle with fresh basil leaves and serve with plenty of Thai jasmine rice (white or whole-grain).
  • Serve and enjoy!

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