Curry of yellow chilies with whole quail, fresh turmeric and lemon basil (แกงเผ็ดนกกระทาพริกเหลืองสด; gaaeng phet nohk grathaa phrik leuuang soht)

By: Hanuman
🔊 Listen to the Thai name pronunciation
quail curry

Salty leading and sour-sweet to follow, this coconut-based gaaeng phet spicy curry might be made of chilies, but it is fruitier than it is spicy, and lighter than it is dense. Originally cooked with the meat of game birds, it retains a surprisingly light body that opens space for the birds to fly. The curry is tinted golden orange from a paste imbued with fresh yellow chilies and turmeric; it is perfumed with lemongrass and lemon basil leaves.

this content is locked

Unlock exclusive content!

Log in now or become a valued subscriber 


Forgot password? 

Incorrect username or password.

New account

Incorrect username or password.


A fresh, fruity, mildly spicy and very airy curry

The use of yellow chilies in place of dried red chilies imparts a blast of green curry-like freshness. The yellow chilies are a bright copper and orange in color but, despite their fiery appearance, they are only moderately spicy and as composed as the robes of meditating monks. Their fruitiness is ripe and sweet – a contrast to the youthful, leafy-herbaceous freshness of green chilies or the mature characteristics of rehydrated dried chilies. The ‘chili aroma’ of yellow chilies is the fruitiest of them all. Acclaimed and widely utilized in Central Plains cuisine, the yellow chili is used in salads, relishes and curries, or in garnishes. Rarely, however, are yellow chilies used to make curry paste, as in this dish.

To reinforce the vivid orange hue of the chilies, kaffir lime zest and coriander roots – the green elements of the curry paste – are removed, and replaced by an intense fresh turmeric; as if to protect the luxurious fruitiness of the yellow chili, the astringent galangal and dry spices are also left out of this paste.

In yet another aromatic twist that further expands the dish’s fruitiness, common ingredients used in gaaeng phet spicy curry – hand-torn green kaffir lime leaves and sharp anise-flavored Thai basil – are replaced by citrusy elements of lemongrass and lemon basil leaves. In the final accommodation to the chilies’ orange fruitiness, the curry is seasoned salty, leading with a sour-sweet floor instead of the typical salty-sweet flavor profile of gaaeng phet spicy curries.

quail curry

This unique curry merits even further examination due to the design of the curry paste, which amplifies fruitiness and produces an airy curry result. To study it, we first list the ingredients that were added or omitted from the standard phrik khing (พริกขิง) paste composition. This gives us a clearer overview of the paste and an easier way to memorize it.

The following table summarizes the curry paste variances of a basic phrik khing (พริกขิง) paste.

Fresh yellow chiliesGalangal
Fresh turmeric
Kaffir lime zest
White peppercorns (S1)Coriander roots
Summary of the curry paste differences from a regular gaaeng khuaa paste


Use the universal ratios of 1/2 the amount by volume of the fish sauce in palm sugar, to achieve a flavor profile with a salty leading and a sweet floor. Then, when you are satisfied with the seasoning, add no more than half the amount of palm sugar volume in tamarind paste. This results in a sour layer that appears to rise above the sweetness, yet allows the saltiness to lead the flavor profile.

But of course, this is just a game plan – you can adjust these seasonings as you cook and taste.


The birds

You can use any game bird including snipe (นกปากซ่อม; nohk bpaak saawm), pigeon (นกพิราบ; nohk phiraap), quail (นกกระทา; nohk grathaa), or even chicken and duck. The birds can be served in any fashion you wish: whole on the plate, sliced, or bone-in and chopped into small pieces. I recommend braising them tender with aromatics before adding them to the curry and avoiding the temptation of grilling or smoking it first.

quail curry
Curry of yellow chilies with whole quail, fresh turmeric and lemon basil (แกงเผ็ดนกกระทาพริกเหลืองสด; gaaeng phet nohk grathaa phrik leuuang soht)
Salty leading and sour-sweet to follow, this coconut-based gaaeng phet spicy curry might be made of chilies, but it is fruitier than it is spicy, and lighter than it is dense. Originally cooked with the meat of game birds, it retains a surprisingly light body that opens space for the birds to fly. The curry is tinted golden orange from a paste imbued with fresh yellow chilies and turmeric; it is perfumed with lemongrass and lemon basil leaves.
No ratings yet

Add your own recipe notes

You must be a member to use this feature

Add to Collection Add to Shopping List
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Thai
Servings 4


To braise the quail:

  • 4 quail (นกกระทา)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (ตะไคร้) bruised and cut into segments
  • 10 thin slices fresh turmeric (ขมิ้นชัน)
  • 5 shallots (หอมแดง) bruised
  • water (น้ำเปล่า) to cover

For the curry:

  • 1 cup coconut cream (หัวกะทิ)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (หางกะทิ)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (น้ำสต๊อกไก่)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (ตะไคร้) bruised and cut into segments
  • 5 shallots (หอมแดง) bruised
  • 1 cup lemon basil (ใบแมงลัก)

For the curry paste:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh yellow chili (phrik leuang) (พริกเหลือง) deseeded and thinly sliced (about 14 chilies)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
  • 2 tablespoons lemongrass (ตะไคร้) thinly sliced
  • 7 thin slices fresh turmeric (ขมิ้นชัน)
  • 1 tablespoon Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย) thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons shallots (หอมแดง) thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fermented shrimp paste (kapi)(กะปิย่างไฟ)
  • 1 teaspoon white peppercorns (พริกไทย) (S1)


  • 1 part fish sauce (น้ำปลา)
  • 1 part palm sugar (น้ำตาลมะพร้าว)
  • 1/2 part tamarind paste (น้ำมะขามเปียก)


  • shallots (หอมแดง) thinly sliced


Braise the quail:

  • Clean and wash the quail thoroughly. Use them whole or chop them into small bite-size pieces. Set aside.
  • Fill a large pot with light coconut milk enough to cover the quails, and add the fresh turmeric, lemongrass and shallots and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the quails and braise covered on medium low heat.
  • Once the quail are tender and their skin tinted yellow, remove them from the pot, discard the cooking liquids and the aromatics. . Set aside.

Prepare the aromatics:

  • Bruise and peel lemongrass. Cut it into large pieces. Set aside.
  • Peel and bruise the shallots. Set aside.
  • Pick the leaves of the lemon basil. Set aside.

Prepare the curry paste:

  • An overview of the curry paste ingredients.
  • De-seed the fresh yellow chilies and slice them into thin pieces. Set aside.
  • Pound the curry paste: start with the fresh yellow chilies, the salt and the white peppercorns.
  • Gradually add the other ingredients, from the driest to the wet. After pounding the chilies, add the lemongrass and, while pounding it, gradually add the turmeric. Continue pounding the paste until it is smooth with an orange color that is to your satisfaction.
  • Add the shallots and garlic.
  • Add the fermented shrimp paste (kapi) and continue pounding until a rounded aroma is achieved.
  • Remove the curry paste and set it aside. Wash the mortar and pestle with about one cup of plain water and reserve the liquids.

Cook the curry:

  • In a brass wok, heat the coconut cream until it thickens and oil appears. Scoop out a small portion to drizzle on top of the finished curry.
  • Add the curry paste.
  • Fry the paste until it loses its rawness.
  • Stop the frying with plain water and the liquids collected from cleaning the pestle and mortar.
  • Important: At this stage, in order to separate the oil particles created during the paste-frying process from the rest of the broth, mix gently to avoid re-emulsification of the oil.

Diluting the curry:

  • Dilute the curry with coconut milk and chicken stock to your liking.
  • Add the quail and mix gently. Braise the quail in the curry until they are fully cooked.
  • When the quail are almost cooked, add the bruised lemongrass stalks and bruised whole shallots.


  • Season to a salty leading with a sour-sweet floor flavor profile – and taste before seasoning! Start by seasoning the salty element, using fish sauce.
  • When you are satisfied with the saltiness, add palm sugar at the ratio indicated.
  • Add tamarind paste at the ratio indicated.

Adding the herbs:

  • Turn off the heat before adding the lemon basil. Spread the lemon basil equally on top of the curry and gently push it into the broth, allowing it to wilt down. Do not stir vigorously!

Plate and serve:

  • Put the curry into a serving bowl. Garnish with thinly sliced fresh shallots and drizzle thick coconut cream over it. Serve!
Keyword spicy curry (แกงเผ็ด)
Tried this recipe?We’d love to see it – tag it #THAIFOODMASTER on Instagram! Please leave a comment to let us know how it was!

Get Access – Join Thaifoodmaster Today

Practical and kitchen-tested recipes with a mix of theory, history, psychology, and Siamese culture tidbits.

  • Get access to everything right away. Unlock more than 50 Masterclasses, over 250 recipes and Articles

    Access to Thaifoodmaster’s constantly growing library of prime professional classes, articles, recipes and videos on Siamese culinary topics, available nowhere else in English.

  • GET EXTRA - New Monthly Masterclasses and Recipes

    Gain access to NEW MONTHLY masterclasses as they become available. 

  • 1-1 support from Hanuman

    1-1 support from Hanuman to help you achieve your professional Thai culinary goals

  • Live Q&A Sessions

    The opportunity to join a monthly live two-hour videoconference where I can answer your questions.

  • Great Value!

    one year access for the price of 3 days in-person training.

You will get everything you need to:

  • To Get inspired

    When you design or build a new menu for an event or restaurant or even prepare for dinner with friends.

  • To Satisfy your curiosity.

    Finally !

  • To Master Your Craft

    Master your Thai cooking skills and expand your repertoire.

It is truly brilliant with a revolutionary approach introducing aspects and concepts never broached by cookbooks.
Ian Westcott
Ian Westcott
Sourcing Wines for Discerning Private Clients
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of



Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Get a Free copy of my eBook "49 Classic Thai Stir Fry Dishes"

Subscribe to our newsletter that will keep you up to date with stories and events taking place at Thaifoodmaster!