Panang Curry

1 May

Bowl of vegetarian panang curry

Since I’m Indian, I stereotypically loved Indian kadhi (curry) when growing up. After trying Thai food for the first time, Thai curries also became a favorite. However, most Thai restaurants use fish sauce as a base for all curries and don’t have a good substitute on hand. So, I was inspired to learn to make panang so I could make sure and find an equivalent substitute and still enjoy the dish. This experiment was a huge success and I absolutely love the rich flavors in this dish.

*  *  *

Q: What did Pri say after taking a bite of the delicious panang?
A: Hit me baby one more thai!

*  *  *

Ingredients: Serves 4-6.
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 2 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp. Aroy-D or Mae Anong Panang Curry Paste (You can purchase the Mae Anong Curry Paste by clicking here)
  • 2 cans coconut milk (13.5 oz. each) *Trader Joe’s carries light coconut milk with has 50% less fat than regular coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. palm sugar (or brown sugar),  (buy here for $2.92)
  • 1 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/4 cup roasted and unsalted cashews (buy here for $6.95)
  • 1 cup chopped white mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped white/yellow onion
  • 4 Thai basil leaves
  • 4 oz. cubed extra firm tofu
  • 5 broccoli florets
  • 1 cup red belpepper
  • 10 snap peas
  1. In a seasoned wok*, heat oil on medium heat.
  2. Once hot, add ginger and garlic and let cook until light brown.
  3. Stir in curry paste.
  4. Whisk in coconut milk, grated palm sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice and turn heat up to medium-high. *Add the lime juice little by little until it’s just how you like it. I used the entire 1 1/2 tbsp. of lime juice.
  5. Add veggies, tofu, and basil leaves and cook until tofu is cooked completely (you can test this by cutting the tofu in half and trying a bite; if it is not cooked completely, you can taste the rawness).
  6. Top with crushed cashews and garnish with Thai basil leaves.
*If you don’t have a wok, I recommend this one - it’s under $30 and has over 4 stars on amazon!


 Ingredients for panang curry

Vegetarian panang curry cooking in a wok

A bowl of vegetarian panang curry


. . . and if you love this panang curry, you’re sure to love this vegan pad prik king recipe:

Vegan Pad Prik King


  1. Jessica Robison August 30, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    If your eyes hurt when onions are cut like mine do, put out a small bowl with some white vinegar in it. It cuts the smell almost immediately!

  2. Helaine September 4, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    Lovely dish! Made this afternoon and fell in love with it! Thanks!

    • Priya Aggarwal September 6, 2012 at 9:59 am #

      Thank you, Helaine!

      • fida February 15, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

        Hey Priya,

        I just finished making this dish. For some reason it feels like the flavor is missing, and i followed ur recipe step by step. I usually like this dish sweet, as there anything that i can add to give it a sweet curry taste?

        • Priya Aggarwal February 19, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

          I am sorry to hear it did not turn out to your liking. I would add more palm sugar to give it a sweeter taste.

        • Jenny H. September 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

          I make Thai curry and have for years. I would use coconut cream and a regular can of coconut milk. It’s not as calorie friendly, but taste much better and when I’m eating curry, I don’t care about healthy :p

  3. Alyssa September 4, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    Just out of curiosity, and because I really like fish sauce and usually have it on hand, if I wanted to use it, where would I add it into the dish?

    • Alyssa September 4, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

      Also, what was the heat factor on this dish? Panang is usually my all-time favorite dish to order at a thai place, but I’ve never used a store bought paste to try. I have to pretty young children that can’t go too hot.

      • Priya Aggarwal September 6, 2012 at 9:57 am #

        Hi Alyssa, this dish is not spicy at all if you use the Aroy D curry paste. You can always add red chilli powder to make it spicier. If you make the dish using my recipe, I have no doubts your kids will be able to eat it :)

    • Priya Aggarwal September 6, 2012 at 9:58 am #

      Generally, light/thin soy sauce is used in place of fish sauce. As you can see, I don’t use any light/thin soy sauce in this recipe like I do in the pad thai recipe – Nonetheless, you can likely substitute out the soy sauce for fish sauce. Let me know how it turns out so other readers can learn from you too!

    • mary-anne durkee February 2, 2013 at 11:56 am #

      Fish Sauce is a finishing ingredient, a top note. It cooks out quickly so add at the end, and serve Nam Pla phrik for dinners to adjust taste for themselves. Nam Pla Phrik is simplu fish sauce (nam Pla) and sliced chiles (phrik) Thai Dragons (Phrik Chee Fa) aren’t too hot, and the wonderful Bird Chiles (Phrik Kee Nue) are hotter and non metaliac in taste. BTW grow your own Thai chiles as the plants are so pretty! The Bird Chiles are rarely if ever sold in US markets. The plants are compact and perfect to put 3 in a hanging basket!

  4. Erin September 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    I have been looking for a copycat recipe for the Panang Curry I get at my local Thai carryout and this is it almost EXACTLY. I used thin-sliced chicken breasts instead of tofu.

    The only difference actually between this and my carry out’s Panang is that the sauce was thicker… but I think that’s only because I had to let it reduce a little longer to make sure the chicken was cooked through. FANTASTIC!!! Thank you so much!

    • Priya Aggarwal September 17, 2012 at 8:15 am #

      Oh, wonderful! I’m so glad you liked it and were able to find a way to make it with meat. I’ll let my meat-eater friends know what you did so they can try it too :)

    • Kim February 10, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

      Hi Erin,

      I tend to add Pumpkin puree to my Panang Curry to thicken it and add an additional flavor to it. :)

  5. Arizona September 25, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    It’s awesome! Thanks for this recipe!

  6. Amber September 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    I AM going to try this recipe this coming week, I’ve got high hopes since Panang Curry with chicken is my go-to meal at my local Thai restaurant. I’ll let you know how it turns out :)

  7. CristiMy October 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    I made this tonight and it was delicious, although lacking in eye appeal. I followed the directions without looking through all the lovely step pictures. Afterwards, I took a closer look. There are red peppers and snap peas! Why were these not included in the written directions? Do you usually put those in and if so, what would the quantities be? Thanks

    • Priya Aggarwal October 18, 2012 at 9:29 am #

      Hi ChristiMy! Wow, I have no clue how I omitted those two ingredients from the list when they were clearly used! Thanks for commenting on that. I’ve added them to the list :) Also, with regard to the eye appeal, top the bowl with freshly ground cashews and Thai basil. :)

  8. Lindsey October 31, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    This recipe is fabulous. So much flavor and so easy. And, my vegan son loved it! Thank you. A total keeper.

    • Priya Aggarwal October 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

      I know, right!? I feel like the credit should all go to the creators of the Aroy D paste :)

  9. Miranda November 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    OMG. I just made this and it is SO good!! Thank you so much for the amazing recipe!!!

  10. Laura November 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    I’m so anxious to try it this weekend :D it looks delicious..and your faces convince me haha

    • Priya Aggarwal November 15, 2012 at 9:46 am #

      Aww :) I love this dish! One of my favorites!

  11. Jean November 15, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    Found this recipe on Pinterest and I’ve got to say that this looks absolutely divine! I’ve bookmarked this one. I’ll be using chicken or pork with mine, as we’re not huge tofu fans.

    Does Ranch 99 have a good selection? I live relatively close to one location. Haven’t tried it yet. Fairly new in town.

    • Priya Aggarwal November 15, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

      Thanks, Jean! Ranch 99 has a huge selection of Asian products/ingredients. It is also really good (and cheap!) for regular groceries and produce.

  12. Reena November 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    Where do i find the panang curry paste…the one i found at whole foods has anchoives and i am vegetarian.

  13. Claire Bruce November 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    You’re recipe is amazing! We made it for Thanksgiving!

    • Priya Aggarwal November 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

      Thank you, Claire! I am so glad you enjoyed it :)

  14. Sarah Milligan December 3, 2012 at 2:52 am #

    I am an American living in England and have not really ventured out much to try Indian Cuisine, I would like very much to try this, but I was curious if I could use chicken instead of tofu.
    Thank you so much :)

    • Priya Aggarwal December 4, 2012 at 9:28 am #

      You know, I’ve been asked this question many times and I think the answer is yes but I honestly would not know for sure b/c I have never tried it. My guess would be that you might need to cook the curry longer in step 5 to make sure the chicken is cooked thoroughly. If you try it, please let me know by commenting! :)

  15. Heather December 15, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Thanks for this recipe. It was super easy and wonderful. I substituted shrimp for the tofu and that work well.

    • Priya Aggarwal December 17, 2012 at 9:14 am #

      So good to know! Thank you Heather :)

  16. Renee January 7, 2013 at 2:22 pm #


    I really would like to try this, but cannot find the specific brand of panang curry paste you use. I tried amazon as well, but could only find a 6 pack for over $30 – I won’t use that much. Is there another brand you could recommend? I cannot get it locally, as I live in Germany and there are no asian markets near by. Any help would be appreciated!

    • Priya Aggarwal January 7, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

      Hi Renee! Unfortunately, the amazon product you found is the one I also have in my store: However, if you have an Asian market near you, you can find a different Panang Curry Paste (they have tons on the shelves)! Or you can find another brand on The main reason I used this one is because it does not have fish sauce, oyster extract, etc. like most pastes. If you are not a strict vegetarian, it will be easier for you to find a good alternative on by looking at the reviews. I hope this is helpful. :)

    • Priya Aggarwal January 27, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

      Hi Renee, you can also buy it from me now:

  17. Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies January 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    This sounds amazing! I used to be too intimidated to make my own Thai food, but I’ve been doing it more & more lately and it’s so worth it!

    • Priya Aggarwal January 7, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

      I’ve seen all your recipes and I am so going to try one soon!! xx, Pri :)

  18. Cat January 9, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    Like a previous poster, I found this recipe on Pinterest. Got it going on the stove right now – my very first curry! – and I have to say, it tastes delicious! I can’t believe how easy it is to make! I’m an American living in France and thankfully found similar products to everything you listed. My family is a bit meat and potatoes so I am using chicken instead of tofu. Wasn’t sure how it would come out going into the wok raw so lightly browned it before throwing it in. Just hoping my family like this. If not…more for me!!! Thank you!

    • Priya Aggarwal January 9, 2013 at 9:41 am #

      Thank you, Cat!! I am glad to hear that this recipe works with chicken as so many people have asked me about that! Cheers to having a great dinner with your family. Bon apetit ;)

  19. Shveta January 11, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    Great recipe and wonderful clicks! I’ll try getting Arod-D Panang curry paste from Trader Joe’s. Thanks, Priya for posting this.

  20. Jill January 12, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    I made this recipe tonight and it was SO good. I loved every addition. Thanks!

  21. Sylvana January 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    Hi! I’lll be making this dish on Tuesday for my boyfriend’s birthday – instead of tofu, can I use potatoes? And where can I find Thai basil? I tried at my local farmers market this morning, but they said it was out of season…thanks!

    • Priya Aggarwal January 19, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

      I think potatoes would taste delicious as well! Try any Asian farmers market, they should have it year-round. That’s where I buy mine! :)

  22. Reena January 17, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    Hi I can’t find the panang curry paste vegan anywhere. I went to trader joe and whole foods.

  23. mary-anne durkee January 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    There is a Vegetarian “Fish Sauce” that is based on mushrooms and is quite nice. Normally Penang curry has kapi in it (shrimp paste) which is tyical in Thai curries not fish sauce. Fish Sauce is more of a finishing taste if desired.

    I am glad to see you use regular coconut milk as it gives the proper texture and flavour to Thai curries. Coconut oil is good for the health! BTW for those in the US Coconut Sugar is now available at Costco! It gives a softer sweetness rather than a harsh sweetness of processed white sugar.

    I too love Thai curries and Indian masalas. I have been to both countries over 30 times since 1989, and find myself playing with Indian/Thai ingredients much as the best Chinese food in the world-is found in India :-) In Southern Thailand where Penang is tyical they too use lovely Indian spices in some dishes.

    BTW those curries in the Plains area of Thailand do not use coconut milk and sometimes are considered healthier, but I admit to loving both.

    I really enjoy your blog!

  24. Jon February 1, 2013 at 1:18 am #

    priya your soooo hott marry me!!

  25. Jon February 1, 2013 at 1:20 am #

    Priya your the prettiest girl ever! marry me?

  26. Veggie February 4, 2013 at 6:37 am #

    This looks absolutely beautiful, love the colour and the creaminess!

    • Priya Aggarwal February 5, 2013 at 9:33 am #

      Thank you :)

  27. Jenna February 17, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    I was informed during a Thai cooking class that “light” coconut milk is simply watered down coconut milk. They advised us to buy regular coconut milk and just use less if we wanted to cut the fat in the dish, that way we aren’t paying the same price for more water!

    • Priya Aggarwal February 19, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

      Hi Jenna! You might be right. I checked the ingredient list for the light coconut milk and it is coconut milk & water. However, the comparison chart shows the following per 1/3 cup: Regular coconut milk has 140 calories and 14g fat. Light coconut milk has 50 calories and just 4g fat. I personally haven’t noticed a taste difference between the two so I prefer the light version.

  28. Neely February 17, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    I learned from a Thai chef that store bought light coconut milk is just watered down regular coconut milk. It’s a good money saving tip to just add water to full-fat coconut milk. You can freeze extra canned coconut milk for several months.

  29. Nikki Rennolds February 22, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    I saw this on Pintrest last night and HAD to make it tonight. So I went to my local grocery store (I live in FL) and of course they didn’t have Panang Curry Paste so I substituted Red Curry Paste. I’m not sure of the flavor difference but this dish is amazing! I’m going to locate an Asian market so I can expand my Thai horizons, but I will absolutely make again. Also I used finely chopped chicken in place of tofu and sweet basil instead of Thai Basil. Still, so yummy!!! Thank you for this awesome recipe!

    • Nikki Rennolds February 22, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

      Also, i used one can of light and one can of regular coconut milk to save calories. Can’t wait for lunch tomorrow to have the leftovers! :)

    • Priya Aggarwal February 24, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

      I am so glad to hear that your substitutes worked :)

  30. Ashley March 1, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to try this recipe! My mother and I are in love with this dish at restaurants and to know that you’ve created a very simple recipe… omg, I’m itching with excitement to go to the grocery store and make it!! I’ll let you know how it compares, but it looks SCRUMPTIOUS :)

    • Priya Aggarwal March 1, 2013 at 9:41 am #

      Aw!! I love your excitement! Definitely post a picture of the final dish on my Facebook page: Hope it’s everything you hope for! :)

  31. Ams March 12, 2013 at 1:16 am #

    Hi Priya,

    I’d just like to say thank you so much for this recipe! I have a husband who is very difficult to please and he absolutely loved this recipe! I also gave a sample to my parents who said that it tasted like restuarant food.

    Once again,

    Thank you so much – five star recipe.

    • Priya Aggarwal March 12, 2013 at 9:18 am #

      Aw, this makes me so happy!!! Thanks Ams! I am really glad you all enjoyed it. :)

  32. Rebecca Norton March 16, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    Hi Pri!
    Making this right now! Smells wonderful! How do I store the curry paste once it is opened?

    • Priya Aggarwal March 17, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

      Yay! How did it turn out? You can just put it in a plastic ziplock bag (airtight) or a mason jar. :) Oh and also, I keep mine in the fridge once I open it!

  33. Nicole D March 29, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    I just made this for the first time and I have to tell you I loved it. I added some Sriracha after just to spice it up a smidge but it was perfect. Thank you for posting this recipe. I can’t wait to try your Pad Thai :D

  34. charity macpherson April 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    Hi there,

    Is this served with rice or do you eat like a soup?

    • Priya Aggarwal April 4, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

      Either! I love it as both.

  35. Chiara May 11, 2013 at 1:55 am #

    I’m new to cooking anything more adventurous than pasta, and I just wanted to tell thank you for sharing this delicious recipe. I had to make a couple of substitutions for taste preference, but it turned out perfectly – thank you.

  36. Jon July 10, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    marry me

    • Maryanne July 10, 2013 at 10:22 am #

      Coconut fat IE oil is considered a healthy fat! You can buy the coconut oil in spay can for cooking and jars of coconut fat for cooking at Trader Joe’s a d large jars at Costco. To obtain the correct Thai taste to a curry you need to use coconut milk, chaokoh and Mae Ploy are good quality brands.

      I have studied Thai cuisine during my 30+ trips about Thailand since 1987. I have taken formal classes from top chefs in Thailand, home cooks, even street vendors to learn of real Thai taste. I began loving Thai cuisine taking classes about 30 years ago from nearby close friend Kasma Loha-Unchit who won the James Beard award for her first cookbook.

      Thai cooking is based on healthy fresh ingredients!

  37. Kevin July 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Hi. I am going to gamble and scale this up for 60 people in about a week. I see to types of unsalted cashews. Quick question: Should the cashews be DRY roasted?

    • Priya Aggarwal July 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm #


  38. Kevin King August 1, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    Just made this for a bunch of guests and everyone loved it. I told them where it came from and there are some new recipris fans. Well done.

  39. ketan August 11, 2013 at 5:32 pm #


    You have made Thai cooking look easy! I just saw how u made on youtube, I am gonna try this once I finish my fasting for Shravan next month. Looking forward for your recipe on Red and Green curry.


    • Priya Aggarwal September 11, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

      Red and green curry are definitely on my list! Hope to make them soon :)

  40. Kara Gallegos August 12, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! This is my favorite Thai dish, but I hate having to go to a restaurant just to get it. I can’t wait to try making this at home! I hope I can find the curry paste, otherwise I will be ordering it from you!

    • Priya Aggarwal September 11, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

      I hope you’re able to find it too! Try any Asian supermarket!

  41. Jordan September 10, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    So I love Thai food, but there isn’t a decent restaurant that I have been able to find near where I live. Oddly enough the BEST Thai restaurant I have been to is in a small town in Florida. I live in Orlando and none of the ones here come close!

    Since I no longer live near the one I grew up by, I tend to get cravings for it and no way to fill them.

    I’ve never tried cooking Asian cuisine, but decided to try this tonight. I was forced to make some small changes, but overall it turned out AMAZING! I also used chicken instead of tofu, as well as adding some pad thai rice noodles. I sautéed the chicken in a little bit of oil, as well as adding a little bit of curry paste to them before adding it to the rest of the dish.

    It came out absolutely delicious, and my brother and roommates absolutely loved it! It is definitely going to become a regular meal in our house!

    • Priya Aggarwal September 11, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Jordan! I love that you adapted the recipe to make it your own and I’m so glad everyone loved it. Hope to see you around here more often.

  42. Jennifer V September 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    thanks, this looks AMAZING! I will try it later on this week. Yum. :)

  43. Jubes November 7, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    Chicken panang is my all time favourite dish to order at Thai restaurants, which costs about $12 a dish. My boyfriend, who is vegan has never had it, so I’m super glad I made your recipe! Now I can share my favourite dish with him :)

    I have the flavour profile of the curry from the restaurant stuck in my brain, so I adjusted your recipe to taste. I didn’t miss the fish sauce etc. at all.

    PS. I had red curry paste in the house, so I used that instead along with a tablespoon or so of smooth peanut butter. Perfect!

  44. Jinal January 16, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    Made it and loved it. Thank You For Making Cooking So Easy :) ))

  45. Gladys February 1, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    This recipe is awesome, have made a couple of times. I had to comment because I’m making it tonight. I have adjusted the recipe by adding chicken and potatoes but just as yummy!! Thanks a bunch

  46. Lauren February 2, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    This is a good, easy recipe. One trick that I have in my bag from making previous curries is to scoop the cream off the coconut milk and allow it to melt into the garlic and ginger, then once the cream is melted, swirl in the curry paste. Add the rest of the milk and follow the remainder of the recipe. This allows you to keep an even creamier texture.
    For those of you that want to cook meat- cook any meat gently in the oil, garlic and ginger from the very beginning, add the coconut milk cream and then swirl in the paste. Follow the remainder of the recipe.

  47. computernerd01 twitter February 10, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

    My family is a bit meat and potatoes so I am using chicken instead of tofu. Wasn’t sure how it would come out going into the wok raw so lightly browned it before throwing it in. Just hoping my family like this. If not…more for me!!! Thank you!

  48. Ketan February 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm #


    A question since I am a Vegetarian, I found veg curry paste like Maesri in store but it had written that it was produced in facility that processes peanuts, shrimp etc. I am trying not to buy where shrimp or non veg items are processed.

    Does the Panang Curry by Mae Anong is produced in only vegetarian facility ?


    • Maryanne February 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

      Make your own :-) that is the answer.

  49. Jazmin o October 15, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

    I am seasoning my own wok and I was wondering if all curries can be cooked in it or if it would mess up my seasoning. I thought boiling in the wok was not good. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

    • Priya Gulati October 21, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

      Hi Jazmin, I have never heard that boiling in a wok is not good and I’ve been doing it for years and my wok seems fine! Also, yes, all curries can be cooked in the wok.

  50. Megan October 24, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    This sounds yummy! Approximately how long would you estimate it takes the tofu to cook completely?

    • Priya Gulati October 27, 2014 at 11:21 am #

      I would guesstimate 3 minutes :)

  51. Beth December 29, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Great recipe. Great flavor.

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