How to Make Authentic Khmer Curry
This article will explain how to make authentic Khmer curry (Cambodian curry). It is a fun challenge if you can locate the ingredients or equivalent substitutes. Some of the ingredients are not easily found outside of Cambodia. But don't be discouraged, this dish is well worth the effort.
Please note that the measurements listed below are approximate and the instructions inexact. No one uses measuring devices in authentic Khmer cooking. The instructions written below coupled with the accompanying video should get you close to the authentic style, but don't be afraid to experiment. Have fun!
Chicken Curry Ingredients:
1.5 kilos salted chicken, chopped with bones (the bones add flavor)
1.5 kilos coconut milk (fresh if possible)
2.5 grams palm sugar (skor tnot)
1 gram ground long pepper (optional. Do NOT substitute regular black pepper)
1 gram bouillon powder (soup seasoning )
.5 grams curry powder (or substitute star anise. See notes below)
1 gram dried red chili peppers, seeds removed (for chili paste. See notes below)
Chopped carrots, potatoes, white onions, & green beans
Curry paste Ingredients:
2 fingers of turmeric
6 kaffir leaves
2 Thai red onions
1 whole garlic bulb
6 lemongrass sticks
1 yellow galangal root (see video/pictures for scale)
Important Notes on Khmer Curry Preparation
Curry Powder: We use half a packet of Vianco curry powder mixture in the video. The mass of a full packet of powder is 1 gram when weighed, despite what the packaging says.
You can consider using star anise in place of the curry powder. Star anise is regularly used in the local Cambodian recipe. Some guesswork is required on the number of seedpods to add.
Chili paste preparation: Choose large Thai chilies (or some equivalent). They should be relatively mild and not overwhelm the dish with heat. In Cambodia, whole (seeds removed), dried chili peppers can be purchased at the market by the gram. The chilies are soaked in water until soft (usually a few hours). Once they reach a consistency appropriate for a paste, they are crushed using a mortar and pestle. The resulting paste is what you see in the video and pictures below.
Vegan & Vegetarian Curry Option: This recipe can be followed to make vegan curry when the chicken is left out or replaced with an appropriate substitute.
Khmer Curry Cooking Instructions:
For the curry paste, prepare the turmeric, kaffir leaves, red onion, garlic, lemongrass, and yellow galangal to be crushed. Combine the ingredients in a mortar and pestle and crush to a paste.
Reduce a cup of coconut milk over medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the curry paste to create a thick sauce. Mix in the chili paste and palm sugar until consistent. Add the bouillon powder, long pepper, and curry powder. Thin the sauce with coconut milk as needed (too much coconut milk will limit the amount of flavor that the chicken can absorb). Add the chicken and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add thick chunks of carrots/potatoes and the remaining coconut milk. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Uncover and add onions and beans. Bring to a boil until vegetables are of a good texture. Turn off the heat and let cool for 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
View our khmer curry video above for a demonstration of how it's done. Good luck and happy cooking!
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