Sweet coconut milk, spicy curry paste, and lots of chicken and hearty vegetables…this thai chicken curry with butternut squash & cauliflower is an unbelievably easy, delicious dish.
I never ate or cooked much Thai food before culinary school. One of our classes was focused on the cuisines of Asia, and the food of Thailand was my favorite. Curries in particular. Not only do I love coconut milk, and that is the base for most Thai curries, but the dish amazed me with how simple in preparation it was, yet full of so much complex flavor…the sweetness from the coconut, the depth from the soy and fish sauce, the tanginess from the lime. Everything balances out into a uniquely tasting, rich sauce that coats the seared chicken and vegetables.
The biggest flavor component is the curry paste. I’m using a red curry paste in this dish, but you can also make yellow curry pastes or even green curry pastes. Each is full of spice and deep, rich flavors. You can find curry pastes in most stores, but if you want to get truly authentic, I suggest making your own. Since one of the best parts about a curry is that it comes together very quickly, I would make the curry paste over the weekend, and then use it during the week to make the dish.
How to Make Red Curry Paste
Soak ½ cup of small dried red chile peppers and 8 dried guajillo peppers (both stemmed) in hot water for 15 minutes. Remove them from the water and set aside. Combine 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, and ½ teaspoon of black peppercorns in a skillet. Toast them over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant. Let cool and grind the spices until fine using a spice grinder.
In a blender, add the soaked chiles and the spice mixture, 6 sliced garlic cloves, 3 sliced shallots, 2 tablespoons of sliced lemongrass, 1 tablespoon of sliced galangal, 1 teaspoon of lime zest, 3 chopped kaffir lime leaves, 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro root, and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Puree until a smooth paste forms, adding water as needed (about ¼ of a cup). Transfer the curry paste to a container and store in the fridge until ready to use.Print
Thai Chicken Curry with Butternut Squash & Cauliflower
seared chicken and hearty vegetables served over lemongrass scented rice and topped with a creamy coconut thai red curry sauce
Lemongrass Scented Rice
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 4 cups chicken stock
- kosher salt
- 3” lemongrass stalk
- 1 ½ lbs skin-on chicken breasts and/or thighs
- kosher salt
- neutral oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 lb cubed butternut squash
- 1 lb cauliflower florets
- 2 tbsp red curry paste
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- watercress & mint leaves
Lemongrass Scented Rice
- Combine the basmati rice with the chicken stock and a pinch of salt in a small pot.
- Take the piece of lemongrass and bruise it with your knife, smashing it so that all the oils release. Add to the pot.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot. Cook for about 20-25 minutes until the liquid has absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove the pot from the heat and fluff the rice with a fork.
- Keep warm until the curry is ready.
Thai Chicken Curry
- While the rice cooks, season the chicken with a pinch of salt on both sides. Heat a large, heavy-bottom pot (or Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add enough oil to just coat the bottom of the pot.
- Working in batches, place the chicken into the hot oil, skin-side down. Allow the skin to sear and crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Turn the chicken over and brown on the other side. Remove the chicken from the pot and reserve.
- To the pot, add the onions. Sauté for a few minutes until slightly tender. Add the yellow bell peppers. Continue to cook until caramelized. Stir in the garlic and ginger. Cook for another minute. Transfer this mixture to a plate and reserve.
- Add a little bit more oil to the pot, along with the butternut squash. Sauté the squash until caramelized on all sides and just starting to soften. Transfer to a plate.
- Add a little bit more oil to the pot, along with the cauliflower. Sauté the cauliflower until caramelized on all sides and just starting to soften. Transfer to a plate.
- Add the curry paste to the pot and let cook in the oil for a minute or two. Whisk in the coconut milk. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Add the onion mixture, butternut squash, cauliflower, and chicken back to the pot. Simmer everything over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through and all of the vegetables are tender.
- Turn the heat on low and remove the chicken. Cut the chicken into chunks and add back to the pot.
- Right before serving, stir in the soy sauce, fish sauce, and lime juice. Serve the curry over the rice and garnish with fresh watercress and mint leaves.