Coconut Curry Chicken with Thai Basil

Oct 7, 2018 | Healthy Living, Recipes

I discovered Thai basil in the market recently and then found this delicious recipe by Elise Bauer. The spiced, flavorful yellow curry with onions and coconut milk is my kind of comfort food: warming and bright, and best served in a big bowl over jasmine rice. If you don’t have Thai basil, you can use the regular kind. The basil, fresh ginger and lime juice add liveliness and keep the curry from being too heavy. Serve some steamed broccoli, carrots, or green beans with each portion, if you like.

This spice mixture is fairly mild, but you can add more cayenne or another jalapeño for more heat. And as the authors note, taste a tiny piece of your jalapeño to check its spiciness; some are much spicier than others. I used ghee—or clarified butter—which is wonderful for cooking because it has a very high smoke point (making it healthier) and a rich, buttery flavor. Plus it’s shelf stable and can be stored with your cooking oils. The original recipe offers canola or rice bran oil as alternatives, but avocado oil is another mildly flavored, healthy option for high-heat cooking.


1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
small pinch of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or more
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1.5-inch pieces

1 large onion, sliced into thin half moons
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 to 2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons Indian ghee or avocado oil
14-oz can coconut milk (classic, not light)
juice of 1 lime, or to taste
handful of fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly torn


  1. In a small bowl, mix the salt, coriander, cumin, ground cloves, cinnamon, ground cardamom, black pepper, cayenne, and turmeric.
  2. Heat the ghee in a wok, deep sauté pan or dutch oven on high heat. When the ghee is very hot, add the onions and jalapeños and stir to coat with the cooking oil. Cook for about three minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, but leave them undisturbed long enough that the onions can sear. Then stir in the ginger, garlic and spices and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the coconut milk and chicken and stir to combine. The chicken should be well coated in coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. When the chicken is tender, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil and lime juice, adding more lime juice or salt to taste, if necessary.
  5. Serve over jasmine rice.


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