Kitchen Tips

Tom Kha Kai – sweet and rich notes of goodness

Thai cuisine has a rich and classic taste in most of its dishes and Tom Kha Kai is one of them. A traditional and tasty Thai soup that is excellent for chill wintry days.

Tom Kha Kai also known as Tom Kha Gai, literally translates to chicken galangal soup. You can find it in most of the Thai restaurants with a characteristic spicy, hot and sour flavor blended in rich coconut milk. It is native to the Lao cuisine and is found commonly in Lao region.

Thai Tom Kha Kai

It has a smooth texture with a pleasant taste and is quite easy to make. Tom kha kai incorporates a wide variety of flavours and ingredients that are quintessential to Thai cuisine. What makes it fragrant is the galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, Thai chili peppers, coriander (or dill weed), that is cooked in coconut milk with straw mushrooms, chicken, fish sauce, and lime juice.

Packed with nutrition, this silky smooth aromatic soup is a complete meal by itself and is perfect for those weeknight dinners.

You can make a vegetarian version of this soup sans the chicken and fish sauce by substituting it with tofu and soy sauce respectively.

Thai style Tom Kha Kai uses cilantro while the Lao style uses dill leaves. However, both taste good with distinctive flavours.

Here’s how you make Tom Kha Kai in 5 simple steps:

Tom Kha Kai


Image Courtesy: Edsel Little used under the Creative Commons Licence

What you need

To make the Tom Kha Kai soup you will need a few pieces of peeled galangal, kaffir lime leaves ( be easy on this, as adding more leaves makes it bitter), if you don’t have kaffir lime leaves you can use lemon zest ( in smaller proportions), Chicken broth, chicken thighs ( boneless), mushrooms (shiitake/oyster/ maitake), coconut milk, fish sauce, fresh lemongrass, Thai chilly peppers and cilantro leaves.

How to make the soup

  1. Chopthe lemongrass and galangal. In a large saucepan add the broth, lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves ( or zest) and bring to a boil.
  2. Cook until all the flavours blend.
  3. Now strain the broth filtering all the leaves and ginger.
  4. Add chicken to the mixture and bring to a boil. Add the mushrooms and stir occasionally until it turns soft and the chicken is cooked.
  5. Mix in coconut milk, Thai chilly peppers, fish sauce and simmer until everything blends well.

Garnish it with cilantro, and serve while it’s hot. You can also add more veggies to it but keeping it minimal with mushroom and chicken gives you an authentic taste. If you want a spicier version you are free to add sriracha paste as well.

You May Also Like

Dim Sum Deep Dive

Dim Sum Deep Dive

Dumpling Dos and Dumpling Don’ts

Dumpling Dos and Dumpling Don’ts


Kate Brodhurst

Rosalin Kristiani

Glenda Mc Donnell

Michael J Sabo

Melinda Savage

Lisa-Jane Fudge

Lillie Giang

Justine Withers

Julia Brodska

Josephine Chan

Sally-Ann Haw

Store Locator

Find your nearest Asian Store


Our Newsletter

Sign up for an authentic Asian experience. From exotic cuisines to fascinating destinations to cooking competitions and monthly giveaways - Discover the Authentic