I never thought much of the Thai green curries I’d made at home. They always seemed watery, insipid, uninspiring. I, therefore, parked them in the “not worth it” recipe pile and moved on. However, when I asked in my Facebook group what my readers would like a recipe for, it was a girl called Emma’s request for a Thai green curry that piqued my interest. Challenge extended, I thought.
Challenge accepted! I got to experimenting and discovered that there is a crucial not-so-secret-anymore ingredient that you absolutely must add to make the very best Instant Pot Thai Green Chicken Curry you could ever imagine!
What is that secret ingredient?
Thai green basil, of course!
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In the past, I had made my Thai green curries with coriander and as much as both Hungry Hubby and me adore that herb, it wasn’t mind-blowing in my Thai curry. Thai basil is often cited as an alternative to coriander in such recipes but there is never an explanation of what you’re missing out on through that substitution.
Thai basil is nothing like coriander in flavour – it’s got a sweet, mild aniseed flavour more similar to the gentle fragrance of fennel than the full throttle intensity of star anise. It’s a little hardier than Italian basil but still in the delicate leaves herb territory. It is worth a trek to a good grocer, international food store or larger supermarket to buy a bunch for this curry, I promise you won’t regret it!
The shallots, lemongrass and nam pla are important too and I wouldn’t sub them out and please, don’t use chicken breast – you want the sweet, juicy, richly flavoured chicken thigh fillets to experience this at its best.
Now I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to give Thai green curry a chance, Instant Pot fans will be interested to know I’ve figured out how to cook the rice in the same pot. What you do is – start the curry off cooking, release the pressure, pop in a trivet and a suitable container with rice and water in, and finish cooking the curry and rice together.
I use the “cake tin” from the Instant Pot silicone range for this; the set pictured above is spot on here. The silicone trivet has longer legs than the one that comes with the IP, and it has long handles to make retrieving the rice much safer – no more burns (although I still wear oven gloves when removing anything from my IP).
As the rice is further away from the heat source (in the base of the IP) and the pot is full with the curry, trivet and “cake tin” it takes twice as long to cook as if you do it straight in the pot but this way, you don’t have to keep the curry warm somehow as you make your rice. You’re welcome! 😉
This curry is so adaptable - reduce the sauce until thick and rich, then serve it over rice. Prefer your curry with noodles? Then leave the sauce as it is after the NPR and serve in a deep bowl with rice stick noodles.
- 3 shallots, peeled
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 green chilli*
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
- 1 lime, zest and juice
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- 2/3 bunch Thai basil (use a supermarket packet which is usually 30g worth)
- 1 tbsp coconut/olive/vegetable oil as preferred
- 500-600 g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 400 g tin of coconut milk (reduced or full fat work here)
- 3/4 cup white basmati rice (3/4 cup for 2 people, 1.5 cups for 4 people)
Reserve a tbsp or two of finely chopped Thai basil to serve later. Ensuring it is well washed, put the rest of the bunch into the food processor or blender, stalks and all.
Add the rest of the paste ingredients and blitz to a paste. These may take a few minutes and a couple of scraping downs to ensure it is well blended. You could do this in a mortar and pestle with a fair bit more effort!
Put the Instant Pot in Sauteé mode. Add the oil and when hot, stir in the paste. Cook for a couple of minutes until the aromas are released, stirring frequently.
Add the chicken and cook for a couple of minutes, to ensure each piece is well coated with the paste and it is sealed all over. Stir in the coconut milk, mixing really well so that there are no lumps of coconut remaining.
Now, here is where you can chose to cook the curry by itself or cook the rice at (more-or-less) the same time.
Place the lid on, set the IP to Manual High and cook for 12 minutes with a QPR when ready. Remove the chicken to a warmed serving bowl and reduce the sauce to desired consistency. If serving with noodles, you may prefer to leave the sauce quite thin (it is the consistency of single cream without reducing it) and serve it all as it is now. Serve with the extra Thai basil on top.
Place the lid on, set the IP to Manual High and cook for just 4 minutes with a QPR when beeper sounds. Remove the lid, give the curry a stir then place a tall trivet inside the pot.
Place either a silicone cake tin or a stainless steel bowl (links below recipe to the ones I use) on top of the trivet with the rice and 3/4 cup of cold water in (double the rice and water if feeding 4 people from this recipe). Replace the lid and set to Manual High for 8 mins. QPR to finish.
Remove the rice carefully wearing oven gloves and immediately pop the IP onto Sauté to start reducing the sauce down. Divide rice between serving bowls. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and top the rice with it. When sauce reduced to your liking, pour over the chicken and serve with the extra Thai basil on top.
*= with regards to the chilli, add as much as you like. You can use a deseeded short, fat chilli (which are jalapeño most often in UK supermarkets) for a mild heat or one or two whole Thai chillies if you like it ferociously hot.
If doing a pot-in-pot technique, you will need to ensure your silicone mould or stainless steel bowl have at least 1 inch of space all around them when inside the inner pot to allow steam to circulate or the rice will not cook.
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