Thom Kha Gai

This soup is one of the classic dishes of Thailand. It translates literally as ‘boiled galangal chicken’ — which doesn’t really do justice to its absolutely perfect blend of hot, sour, sweet and salty. You can make this with prawns or fish instead of chicken.


  • 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) coconut milk
  • 2 lemongrass stems, white part only, bruised
  • 5 cm (2 inch) piece galangal, cut into several pieces
  • 4 red Asian shallots, crushed with the flat side of a knife
  • 400 g (14 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated palm sugar (jaggery)
  • 200 g (7 oz) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 150 g ( oz) straw mushrooms or button mushrooms
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) lime juice
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half
  • 3–5 bird’s eye chillies, stems removed, bruised, or 2 long red chillies, seeded and thinly sliced
  • coriander (cilantro) leaves, to garnish


  1. Put the coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal and shallots in a saucepan or wok over medium heat and bring to the boil.
  2. Add the chicken, fish sauce and palm sugar and simmer, stirring constantly for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Add the tomatoes and mushrooms and simmer for 2–3 minutes. Add the lime juice, lime leaves and chillies in the last few seconds, taking care not to let the tomatoes lose their shape. Taste, then adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve garnished with coriander leaves.