Tom Kha Gai

11 Mar, 2020

Tom Kha Gai is one of my favorite Thai dishes, it’s a very delicious chicken soup. You can break down the name into chicken (Gai) what is cooked (Tom) in coconut milk with galangal (Kha). I like the taste of coconut milk when it’s boiled together with lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves, their flavors harmonize together very well.

I say “soup”, because in the Western world we are used to eating it like a soup, but for Thai people it is a whole meal in a bowl, as it’s always served with a bowl of rice.

Galangal is native to Southern Asia and it’s used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine and a very popular ingredients in Thai, Chinese, Indonesian dishes.

It’s rich in polyphenols, a group of antioxidants linked to health benefits, such as improved memory and lower blood sugar and LDL (bad) cholesterol level.

You can buy galangal root in every Asian grocery store. It looks like ginger root but if you look closer, you will see they are not same. Galangal is related to ginger and turmeric, if you’re in a pinch you can substitute the same amount of galangal with ginger.


Many Thai dishes are very hot but when making this you are in control of how hot you want to make it. You can start with just a bit of chili paste, taste it and add more if you feel it’s needed.  

Tom Kha Gai

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Soup
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: Chicken, coconut milk, moderate
Servings: 4
Author: Andrea


  • big pot


  • 800 ml coconut milk
  • 250 ml chicken broth
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 6 pcs kaffir leaves
  • 6 cm galangal thinly sliced, no need to peel it
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • ½ tsp red chili paste slowly add more to taste, you can also add fresh chilies
  • 400 gram chicken breast thinly sliced
  • 150 gram mushroom sliced
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 12 pcs cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 bunch coriander cut or torn
  • 3 stalk green onion sliced


  • Bring the coconut milk to a boil in a big pot and reduce heat immediately to medium/ medium low.
  • Add the chicken broth, lemon grass, kaffir leaves, sliced galangal, fish sauce, chili pasta and finally the thinly sliced chicken breast and keep it simmering for 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.
  • Add the mushroom and lime juice and simmer for another 4 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and simmer it for 2-3 minutes until it is tender but not overcooked.
  • Serve immediately and sprinkle the coriander and sliced green onion on top.


I usually preserve my kaffir in the freezer as I don't use it that often, and it keeps well for a longer period of time.