Bring Thailand to your kitchen and make Tom Kha Gai

17 Apr

Bring Thailand to your kitchen and make Tom Kha Gai

3 mins read

A taste tingling coconut flavoured, sweet and spicy thick curry-like soup consisting of succulent chicken is known as Tom Kha Gai. Is your mouth watering yet? This dish derives from the South of Thailand with an influence from Laos. It’s referred to as a staple dish for local villagers who use fresh coconuts to produce their own coconut milk. Our partners allow their travellers to participate and make this dish. They gather the coconuts, crack them open and grate the coconut to make the curry. Here is a travellers experience from our partner of grating the curry:

Gaggenau sat on the floor with a basketball-sized, lime green coconut in front of her. We gathered around to learn the art of extracting the fruit from the tough exocarp first, to get to the delicious inner seed that we’d use in preparing our lunch.
Skillfully, Gageena palmed the giant ball in her left hand, and turned it away from her in quick motions, as she hacked at the tough shell with a knife that resembled a small sickle. Her slices ran the length of the outer shell; the crescent-shaped cuts pulled back to reveal the fibrous white mesocarp that she again, peeled away to expose the hard, woody layer that protects the meat of the inner seed. There it was, the fresh from the tree, the brown seed we were eager to taste!
With one swift blow, Gageena cracked open the coconut’s inner fruit; it’s a seed, the prized, brown ball before us, with an axe. She said this coconut was “not too old, but not too young”, so the meat would still be hard, but a little bit sweeter than the meat of an older coconut, one which the villagers prefer to harvest for making milk. To Gageena’s left, she placed the halved coconut seed on a small wooden plane, about eighteen inches long by ten inches wide. It had three wooden feet supporting its incline to a low height, just a few inches off the floor.

The homemade, coconut meat shaving tool was then placed in front of her, angling up and away with it’s sharp, serrated blade located at the perfect arms reach from her seated position. Gageena cupped one-half nut with both hands and rhythmically ran the bright white coconut meat across the jagged blade, sprinkling fine snowflake shavings to the large plate below. This looked easy and fun! We each took a turn at extracting the coconut meat from the seed’s shell. To our surprise, the task was not easy for our novice group. Gageena’s rhythm, her turning the cupped nut in her hands, while she moved the meat across the razor-sharp blade, was a honed skill that would require much practice to achieve. We had fun with that right after lunch!


Sounds exciting right? Want to visit the tastebuds of the Thai and bring Thailand to your kitchen?

Here is how to make Tom Kha Gai:


Serving Size: 3- 4 people



  • 2 x chicken breasts(if you are vegetarian, this can be changed to any vegetables that you wish)
  • 500 ml of coconut milk
  • 1 x chunk of galangal
  • 3 x stalks of lemongrass
  • 1 or 2 onions
  • 2 x tomatoes
  • 6 x kaffir lime leaves
  • Mushrooms
  • 5 – 10 chillies
  • ½ teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • Small bunch of cilantro




  1. First, take a chunk of galangal and cut the root part into slices. Next cut off the bottoms, pull

off the outer layer, and then slice it into small strips.


  1. Turn on the stove to a medium heat then add coconut milk into the pot.


  1. Wait until the coconut milk boils, then add sliced galangal and lemongrass and wait until it boils again. Bring down to a simmer.


  1. Next, add chicken that is already cut into pieces. Now maintain the lower heat until the chicken is cooked and stir the soup. Then add sliced chillies, sliced oyster mushrooms, shred Kaffir lime leaves and onions.


  1. Wait for 5 minutes add half teaspoon of salts, stir the soup again.


  1. Finally, add tomatoes and cilantro. If it is not salty or sour, you can add more salt or lime juices. Serve in a bowl with steamed rice.



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