What’s the difference between red and green Thai curry?
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What’s the difference between red and green Thai curry?

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The simple (and rather obvious) answer is, one is red, the other is green. But seriously, if you ever tasted both you’ll know the difference is more than simply their colour.

Traditionally speaking, all Thai curries were made with much the same ingredients, except for the primary ingredient that gives each of these curries its distinctive colour: red or green chillies.

Here it pays to think of traffic lights, with red meaning you should apply the brakes, while green means it’s safe to proceed. 

While red and green chillies have a slightly different taste as well as differing in colour, and both can be spicy, red is the hot one and green the mild one.

However, as with most other dishes, the ingredients in a Thai curry that accompany the chillies can be varied to suit individual palates.  

What is Thai green curry?

Green curry is known as ‘Gaeng Keaw Whan’ which literally translates to curry green sweet’.

The ingredients used to make green curry paste are: green chillies, coriander (cilantro) roots, makrut (kaffir) leaf & peel and basil. Together these are what give the paste that lovely green colour. They are then mashed into a paste along with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, shallots, and fish sauce/shrimp paste, so all combine exquisitely to give Thai cuisine its intense and fragrant flavour.

What is Thai red curry?

The Thai name for red curry is ‘Gaeng Phed’ which means ‘curry spicy’. While red curry paste uses the same basic ingredients as green curry paste, what gives it that vibrant red colour is up to 20 fresh red chillies, pounded into the paste to achieve this curry’s intense signature burn.

Sometimes a chef might ease up on the red chilli paste and substitute chilli powder to make for a deeper red colour, but the heat will still be there. Many people wouldn’t have their Thai red curry any other way. 

What’s the difference between red and green Thai curry?

The difference isn’t simply about their relative heat levels, but is rather a more subtle matter of adding ingredients that introduce their own distinguishing nuances of flavour.  

For instance, what gives green curry paste the extra sweetness is that it is made with the sweet coriander root, which is what makes the green Thai curry far milder in taste.

But then extra spices can be added to green Thai curry to edge it closer towards the tongue twisting level of red Thai curry, to which coconut milk can be added if required to tone down the heat.

Cottage Delight’s Thai Green Curry Paste.

You can enjoy the authentic flavour of Thailand at home with our own Thai Green Curry Paste, a vibrant curry paste exploding with fragrant and authentic notes of sweet basil, lemongrass and spicy chillies.

Or try our own Thai Red Curry Paste, a beautifully fragrant recipe created with red chillies, kaffir leaves, lemongrass and basil.

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