Tom kha kai

4 servings; 10 min preparation; 30 min cooking time.

Tom kha kai or tom kha gai is a coconut soup, typical for Thailand and Laos. It literally means “chicken galangal boil”. This soup is relatively easy to make and uses few ingredients, but it’s really great. Just one spoon of it and you will find yourself somewhere in a home kitchen in Thailand.

It’s amazing how so few ingredients could create so much depth and flavor. You have all typical for the Asian cuisines tastes: the sourness of the lime leaves and juice, the spice of the hot Thai chili peppers, the sweetness of the coconut milk and palm sugar and the saltness of the fish sauce. A lot of the depth comes also from the galangal rooth that is commonly used in Thai, Lao, Indonesian or Vietnamese cuisines. Although it looks like ginger rooth, it actually tastes very different. The galangal has a unique taste with its strong citrus note. If you cannot find any galangal rooth, use a ground laos.


  • 400 g boneless and skinless chicken thighs, chopped
  • 1 l chicken broth
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 3 Thai chili peppers
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, crushed or chopped
  • 20 g galangal (laos)
  • 100 g shiitake or oyster mushrooms
  • 4 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp palm sugar
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce



Cut the chicken thighs in cubes of 2×2 cm. Cut the galangal in slices. Cut the cilantro stems roughly. Leave the leaves for decoration. Remove the outside leave of the lemongrass and hit the stalk with the back of a knife so that the aroma’s could go out easily. Cut the lemongrass diagonal in 4 cm long pieces. Cut the chili peppers diagonal in slices.

Bring the chicken broth to the boil. Reduce the heat and add the chicken cubes. Let is simmer for 15 min.

Add the coconut milk, galangal, chili peppers, cilantro stems, kaffir leaves and lemongrass. Don’t let it boil hard and stir time to time for 5 min. Then add the fish sauce, palm sugar. At the end add the mushrooms and lime juice. It will take about 5 min to be ready. Serve with fresh chopped cilantro leaves. Enjoy!

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