A taste of Thailand: fragrant Thai green curry recipe

Posted on 9 March 2015

A year after visiting, I’ve had to pen a love letter to Thailand. There are many things that have got me hankering to return, but one that’s front and centre is a fragrant Thai green curry, which just isn’t the same back home.

Dear Thailand
You are vibrant.
Flamboyant, electrifying, striking, beguiling and downright sensuous.

From the fragrant food to the pungent streets, from the sweet fruit shakes to brightly coloured temples and iridescent seas, there’s nothing dull about travelling your stretch. Your children eat spicy food and that’s what I loved most about you. I lapped up prawn-laden tomato-coloured Tom Yum soup and relished the unidentifiable meat on sticks sold in the streets – still my most-missed delights.

Thailand street food - Melanie van Zyl

The one dish I’d order again and again in its many variations was the green curry. A dish I could bank on, with a side of egg-fried rice or the plain sticky white version, it created a cheerful parade and drummed along my tongue. It has a very particular smell though, and is just not easily replicated back home in South Africa. I’ve tried and tried many times, but after hours of Googling and grocery-store searches for ingredients from your bounty, I’ve had to hold my heart. My stove and ambition is not enough to create that aroma.

Thailand street food markets - Melanie van Zyl

Maybe because it’s mixed up with grimy Bangkok street kerbs and charcoal barbecues laden with sticky pork. Maybe it’s because my heart feels different when I’m on the road, travelling through an unknown country with heightened senses and an overwhelming arrangement of people, places and tastes to satisfy the curiosity you enkindled. Maybe it’s because I just don’t want to, because the memory of it all is far more bewitching. In the year since my trip to your shores, only once did a pair of chopsticks and a spot-on aroma take me pounding down memory lane and my heart went weak with joy. I’m not sure why it was perfect because it hasn’t happened again despite my (numerous) attempts and adjustments to the recipe.

I never thought I’d travel for the sake of aroma, but my heart hankers for that perfumed plate and I won’t be able to stifle it forever.

Until your spices dance their bouquet and we meet again.

Always yours,


Thai Green Curry - Melanie van Zyl


Ingredients for Thai green curry

  • 1 cup of jasmine rice
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cardamom seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • Cooking oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, squashed and diced
  • 1 green chilli, thinly sliced
  • 4 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 2 large eggplants (preferably Thai, but these can be hard to come by)
  • 1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 4 baby marrows, thinly sliced julienne style
  • 1 tin coconut cream
  • Roughly one cup of chicken stock
  • a packet of prepared green curry paste
  • Fresh lemongrass to stew
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Cooking instructions

  1. Rinse the jasmine rice thoroughly until the water runs clear and then put on the boil.
  2. Pop the cardamom and star anise on the top to flavour the rice. Keep an eye on the rice and add water if necessary until the rice is cooked and no longer crunchy.
  3. Fry up the diced onion, garlic, ginger and green curry paste in a small amount of oil on low heat for about 15 minutes. You want the flavours to infuse, so the slower the better.
  4. Pump up the heat and put the chicken breasts, baby marrow, red pepper and eggplant into the pan. You want to fry these up and brown the strips for a bit of colour.
  5. Once golden, open the coconut cream and pour over the curry.
  6. Pop in a bruised piece of lemon grass, bring to the boil and then turn down low to simmer.
  7. Add the chicken stock to create your preferred consistency and get to a sauciness that makes you salivate.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Scoop up a serving of jasmine rice, spoon over a generous splash of curry and dig in.


For more colourful photographs you can read about my two weeks in Thailand here.


As Getaway’s gear editor I’m always on the look out for new travel gadgets to test and review. If there’s anything you think I should check out, please let me know. I’m also blogging at melanievanzyl.com where you can follow my travels, photography and read about snorkelling on a postcard-perfect island in Thailand too.

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