I absolutely love Thai cuisine, especially Thai curries, green, red, yellow, I love them all.
I love that they’re packed full of fresh and vibrant ingredients and, I especially love the warmth from the chillies, it’s so comforting and satisfying.
Understandably, a lot of diners are confused as to what the differences are between green, red and yellow Thai curries and, consequently, use the well-known “eeny meeny miny moe” method when choosing a Thai curry!
So, originally, and traditionally, it was as simple as a Thai green curry was made with green chillies, a Thai red curry was made with red chillies and a Thai yellow curry was made with … yes, you guessed it … yellow chillies. However, over time these curries have evolved and, consequently, so have their flavours.
Surprisingly, these three Thai curries are quite similar when it comes to their main ingredients, chillies (obviously), coriander, cumin, galangal, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, peppercorns, shallots, however, there are additional ingredients which allow each curry to morph into a green, red or yellow Thai curry.
Thai Green Curry
A Thai green curry is, or should be, the hottest of the three Thai curries. A Thai green curry will, most likely, give you curry sniffles, but don’t be put off by its spiciness because the coconut milk really cuts through the heat and adds an element of sweetness. A Thai green curry derives its green hue from, not just the chillies, but also basil and coriander.
My recommended vegetables when creating a Thai green curry are bamboo shoots, green bell pepper/capsicum, eggplant, onion and peas.
Thai Red Curry
Contrary to common belief, a Thai red curry is not the hottest of the three Thai curries. That said, a Thai red curry still packs a punch, with red chillies and peppercorns being two of the key ingredients. A Thai red curry derives its fiery hue from the red chillies.
My recommended vegetables when creating a Thai red curry are bamboo shoots, green beans, red bell pepper/capsicum and onion.
Thai Yellow Curry
A Thai yellow curry has a more mild and sweet flavour, largely because it contains both coconut cream and coconut milk. The addition of coconut cream creates a richer and creamier curry. A Thai yellow curry derives its yellow hue from both the yellow chillies and, turmeric/turmeric
My recommended vegetables when creating a Thai yellow curry are carrot, onion and potato.
So, taking all the above into account, the spice-o-meter verdict is, a Thai green curry is HOT, a Thai red curry is MEDIUM-HOT and a Thai yellow curry is MILD-MEDIUM.
TOP TIP: when cooking a green, red or yellow Thai curry, you can easily reduce its heat/spiciness by deseeding the chillies.
Finally, whilst there’s some really delicious store bought Thai green, red and yellow curry pastes, I would highly recommend making your own. Admittedly, it’s a little time consuming but, surprisingly simple, the depth of flavour is unrivalled and, there’s something really therapeutic about pounding the ingredients with a mortar and pestle.