Chinatown red chicken & potato curry

Chinatown red chicken & potato curry

Karee gai

Street Food Asia
4–6 As part o f a shared me al
Alan Benson

Close to the famous Dragon Flower Temple on Mangkorn Road in Bangkok’s Chinatown you’ll find one of the city’s best street food stalls, Jek Pui. The current owner was set up by his father, who started the stall, and all the cooking is done in a small house just around the corner, about 15 metres away. Two workers transfer massive pots full of cooked food down the street, from the kitchen to the stall, using a sturdy bamboo pole. They specialise in curry and have every type you could imagine; green, yellow, red, pork, chicken and beef. Oh, and they also serve a braised spicy pork rib dish too. Before lining up to order, you must know what you want – if you are indecisive and stall even for a nanosecond, they will kick you out of the line. When you get your curry you sit on a stool, sandwiched between that fantastic old wall and the street, with all the locals, curry balanced on your knee. No tables. There are accompaniments like kecap manis, chilli sauce, chillies and vinegar to add; you find these on plastic stools and if you’re not sure what, when or how to add, just follow the locals’ lead. Coming here is a spectacular experience, I promise you. Oh and I should mention the actual curry! Jek Pui’s curries are a lot lighter than what you might be familiar with or may be expecting from a Thai curry. The flavours are subtle, and won’t blow your head off with chilli heat. The karee gai is a favourite of mine; it’s red, instead of the more common green, and is southern Thai in style, with aromatic dried spices like coriander and cumin seeds used in the paste. As well as curry paste they use curry powder, which somehow lightens the whole thing. When you dine here you can easily fit in two serves; they are also famous for their kaeng karee, which involves either pork or beef, is creamy, made with curry powder and is probably Chinese Thai in origin. Whatever you order, be sure to get an iced tea to go with it; there’s nowhere to put it, so it just goes on the ground.


Quantity Ingredient
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 3 cm chunks
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, diced
2cm piece of fresh ginger, finely sliced
4 red asian shallots, diced
1 teaspoon red curry powder
450g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3 cm chunks
125ml see method for ingredients
1 tablespoon liquid palm sugar (see glossary) or shaved palm sugar (jaggery)
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
165ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon kecap manis, (see glossary)
2 red chillies, sliced
2 green chillies, sliced

Curry paste

Quantity Ingredient
4 dried red chillies, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, then drained and chopped
4 red asian shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, sliced, white part only
4 can piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
4 coriander stalks, scraped clean and chopped
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
pinch sea salt


  1. For the curry paste, pound all the ingredients together in a mortar and pestle to a smooth paste. Set aside.
  2. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil over a high heat. Add the potatoes and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat a saucepan over a medium–high heat. Add the vegetable oil and sauté the garlic, ginger and shallots for 2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the red curry paste and curry powder and cook for 1 minute, then add the chicken thigh pieces and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes, or until slightly browned.
  4. Stir in the chicken stock, palm sugar, light soy sauce, fish sauce, coconut milk and potatoes. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 8–10 minutes, until the liquid has reduced slightly and the flavours have melded together.
  5. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with the kecap manis. Garnish with the sliced red and green chillies and serve.
South-East Asian
Street Food
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