20 Minute Panang Chicken Curry
A simple Panang chicken curry that you can throw together in under 20 minute! The perfect weeknight dinner recipe!
20-minute weeknight dinners are my love language!
And this Panang chicken curry hits all the high marks. Creamy, smooth, tangy yet sweet curry loaded with tender chicken, peppers, and Thai basil. Keep it simple and server it over a bowl of steaming rice and just add it to the weekly rotation because the crowds gonna go wild.
We’ve had nothing but rain here in our part of Houston lately, and come September, all I want is comfort food. Bring on the Texas-style chili, the Mexican chicken noodle soup, and now, my Panang chicken curry.
How to make Panang Chicken Curry:
Thai food is some of my favorite things to make because:
- those flavors are a party in my mouth
- involves coconut milk
- it’s comfort food!
Today’s Panang chicken curry is loosely based off of the one from our favorite Thai restaurant in Houston. They keep it pretty straightforward (just meat and curry) but I like to add red bell pepper and a sliced shallot into the mix because the flavors work so well with the sweet and spicy, peanut-flavored curry.
I’ve been making Panang curry for years but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how they got it to have this deep, rich and tangy flavor. I tried everything! Lemon juice, lime juice, lemongrass but time after time, I couldn’t make it like theirs. Until now. The number one ingredient that gives Panang curry it’s classic tang? Tamarind paste. It’s the stuff we use when we’re making pad Thai, so I thought, huh, why not add a smidge to our Panang curry as well? And it did the trick. It gives the curry a nice and dark, slow-simmered, tangy flavor one that lime juice wasn’t providing.
What you need to make panang chicken curry in 20 minutes:
- Panang curry paste
- fish sauce
- tamarind concentrate
- creamy peanut butter
- sliced veggies
- coconut milk
A note about Panang curry paste:
There are a variety of Panang curry pastes available on the market, the one I use it called Mae Ploy. Keep in mind that traditional Thai brands of curry paste will always stretch further than brands like Thai Kitchen which are readily available in mainstream grocery stores.
If you use a curry paste from an Asian supermarket, I suggest starting with 1-2 tablespoons of curry paste (2 if you can really handle spicy food.) Brands that are more readily available in most grocery stores seem to be less potent, so you’ll want to use 2-4 tablespoons of curry paste depending on your spice preference.
How to make Panang Chicken Curry at home:
You’ll notice we’re not using any oil in today’s Panang curry recipe. Grab your coconut milk, without shaking the can, skim a couple of tablespoons off the top and add that to your hot skillet or saute pan. This is the coconut cream; it’s loaded with oil so we’ll use it to cook our curry paste. Then add the curry paste and peanut butter and allow the flavors to wake up. Make sure it doesn’t burn though! Then we’ll add the chicken and mix it so that everything is coated well. Add the rest of the coconut milk along with the fish sauce, tamarind, sugar, veggies, and let it all just simmer until the chicken cooks through and the curry thickens, that’s it!
What do you serve with Panang Chicken Curry?
In the past, I’ve shared a Panang curry noodle bowl with you so you can certainly serve this over rice noodles or egg noodles. Steamed white or brown rice is my favorite though way to eat Panang curry though!
Hope you enjoy this quick and easy weeknight dinner recipe!
- 1 ½ -2 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
- 2-4 tablespoons Panang curry paste
- 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
- 1 ¼ pound boneless skinless chicken, thinly sliced
- 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon tamarind paste concentrate (or more for more tang)
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced (or ½ red onion)
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 3 kefir lime leaves, optional
- ¼ cup basil leaves
- PASTE: Without shaking the can, skim off two tablespoons of the coconut cream and add it to a sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Add the Panang curry paste along with the peanut butter and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken and stir to coat, cook for 1-2 minutes. If at any point the sauce begins to stick to the pan, add a couple tablespoons of water to deglaze. Stir in the remaining coconut milk, starting with 1 1/2 cans (adjust with more later if desired.) Add the kefir lime leaves, fish sauce, brown sugar, sliced onion, and red bell pepper.
- SIMMER: Allow the curry to come to a simmer, lower the heat and let simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the chicken cooks through. Taste and adjust with additional coconut milk, sugar, tamarind, or fish sauce as desired. Turn off the heat and stir in the basil. Serve warm with rice or cooked rice noodles.
- leftover coconut milk can be poured into an airtight container and frozen for up to 6 months.