Quick Thai-style shrimp or chicken curry

A fast and easy meal that’s packed with flavour!

I’ll never forget the first time I tasted a curry dish when in my teens. I took a big bite, impressed with the initial sensation of flavour. Within about ten seconds of that first taste, I suspect I resembled a cartoon character, reaching for every vessel of liquid on the table with which to quench the fire in my mouth. I did not grow up eating spicy foods, so this initial exposure was a little shocking, but I was intrigued, and I wanted more. What sealed the deal for me with curry was a trip to India a number of years ago, when I grew to appreciate the nuances of flavour that make curries so unique from country to country and even region to region.

Thai-style shrimp or chicken curry

This particular dish is more in the style of a Thai curry and one of the things I love most about it – aside from the incredible flavour – is that it’s ready in just 20 minutes, including time to chop vegetables and cook rice. Look for tubs of red curry paste in the ethnic foods section of your favourite grocery store. These can be refrigerated for several months after opening. And if this recipe is the first time you’re hearing about powdered coconut milk…run, do not walk, to your nearest store to grab a few packets. It’s amazing stuff and super versatile because you can add less water to make coconut cream, or more to make coconut milk. It’s even the perfect portable format for camping!

I paired this dish with a La Crema 2015 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and was impressed with how the wine’s complex fruit notes stood up to the curry’s robust flavours. One more thing – if you’re a big fan of curry you have got to try these amazing curried cauliflower pickles and this fantastic curried pumpkin soup.


  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) canola oil
  • 2/3 cup (180 mL) chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) freshly grated ginger root
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons (5 – 10 mL) Thai red curry paste (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) halved cherry tomatoes (or chopped fresh tomatoes)
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) thinly sliced zucchini
  • 50 gram packet of powdered coconut milk*
  • 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • 1 pound (454 g) large, peeled shrimp (thawed if frozen)**
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped coriander (garnish)
  • lime wedges (garnish)
  • 2 cups (500 mL) hot cooked rice, to serve

*Can substitute with a 13.5 oz/400 mL can of coconut milk.

**Cubed chicken would be a great alternative to shrimp.

quick shrimp or chicken curry


  • In a large, broad pan placed over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and ginger and saute, stirring often, for 2 minutes.
  • Add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  • Add the tomatoes and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, until vegetables have softened.
  • While vegetables cook, put the coconut milk powder in a heatproof container (a glass measuring cup works well) and add the hot water. Stir with a fork or whisk until well blended then add to the pan. Taste and add more curry paste at this point if you’d like it a little spicier.
  • Cook, stirring for 1 minute or until just beginning to bubble. Add shrimp and cook, stirring often for 3 – 5 minutes until shrimp have curled up and changed colour.
  • To serve, put 1/2 cup (125 mL) hot, cooked rice in the bottom of each of four broad, shallow bowls. Top with the shrimp and vegetable mixture, dividing the sauce evenly among the four servings.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander and lime wedges and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Thai-style shrimp or chicken curry

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

4 thoughts

  1. Paula, I enjoyed your Thai curry with chicken instead of shrimp (added mushrooms and red peppers), but found it far too watery. What can I use to thicken the sauce? A flour and butter roux? Cornstarch and water mix? What is best for Asian-style dishes? Many thanks, Heather


    1. Hi Heather – the chicken may have released excessive moisture into the sauce. I suggest a little water and cornstarch to thicken up almost any sauce – start with 1 tbsp water and 1/2 tsp cornstarch; blend together and add to dish. Cook, stirring gently, for 2 mins and add more as needed. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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