In recent years, Thai cuisine has gained immense popularity worldwide due to its unique flavours, vibrant colours, and aromatic ingredients. If you are a beginner in Thai cooking or simply looking to expand your culinary skills, this guide will provide you with essential recipes to get started on your exciting Thai culinary journey.

Thai cuisine is known for its bold and complex flavours, which are achieved using a wide range of herbs, spices, and sauces. By familiarising yourself with these key ingredients, you will be able to create authentic Thai dishes that capture the essence of this vibrant cuisine.

Thai Ingredients: A Flavourful Adventure

Before diving into the recipes, let’s explore some of the essential Thai ingredients that form the foundation of this cuisine.

Thai Herbs and Spices

Lemongrass: This aromatic herb has a citrusy flavour and is frequently used in Thai soups and curries. It adds a refreshing and tangy note to dishes.

Thai Basil: With its distinct liquorice-like flavour, Thai basil is a staple herb in Thai cuisine. It adds a delightful herbal aroma and taste to stir-fries and noodle dishes.

Galangal: Like ginger, galangal has a unique flavour that is slightly citrusy and peppery. It is often used in Thai curry pastes and adds depth to dishes.

Kaffir Lime Leaves: These fragrant leaves have a distinct citrusy scent and are used to infuse dishes with a refreshing flavour. They are commonly used in soups, curries, and stir-fries.

Thai Chilies: Known for their fiery heat, Thai chilies add a spicy kick to Thai dishes. They are used in various forms, including fresh, dried, and in chili pastes.

Essential Sauces and Condiments

Fish Sauce: Made from fermented fish, fish sauce is a pungent and salty liquid that adds depth and umami flavour to Thai recipes. It is used in a wide range of dishes, from curries to stir-fries.

Soy Sauce: Both light and dark soy sauce are commonly used in Thai cooking to enhance the umami flavour of dishes. They add a savoury and salty taste to various recipes.

Oyster Sauce: This rich and savoury sauce is made from oysters and adds a depth of flavour to stir-fries and noodle dishes. It has a slightly sweet and salty taste.

Coconut Milk: A creamy and indulgent ingredient, coconut milk is widely used in Thai curries, soups, and desserts. It adds a rich and velvety texture to dishes.

Now that we have a basic understanding of Thai ingredients, let’s explore some essential recipes that will introduce you to the delightful world of Thai cooking.

Classic Thai Recipes for Beginners

These classic Thai recipes are perfect for beginners who want to learn the basics of Thai cooking. They are easy to follow and will help you develop a solid foundation in quintessential Thai cuisine.

Kaeng khiao wan - Thai green curry with chicken

Green Curry with Chicken

Known in Thailand as Kaeng khiao wan, chicken green curry  is always a favourite dish.

Preparation time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Serves: 4


  • 2 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
  • 500g boneless chicken, sliced
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables (such as bell peppers, bamboo shoots, and eggplant or turkey berry)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • Handful of Thai basil leaves
  • Thai jasmine rice, for serving



  1. Heat a large pan or wok over medium heat and add the green curry paste. Stir-fry for a minute until fragrant, releasing the flavours of the curry paste.
  2. Pour in half of the coconut milk and cook for 2-3 minutes until the coconut milk thickens and the oil separates. This step helps to intensify the flavours of the curry.
  3. Add the chicken slices and cook until they are no longer pink. This ensures that the chicken is fully cooked and tender.
  4. Pour in the remaining coconut milk and add the mixed vegetables. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. This allows the flavours to meld together.
  5. Season with fish sauce and palm sugar, adjusting the flavours to your preference. The fish sauce adds saltiness, while the palm sugar balances the flavours with its subtle sweetness.
  6. Garnish with Thai basil leaves to add a fresh and herbal aroma to the curry. Serve hot with steamed Thai jasmine rice to complement the flavours of the dish.

Thai Street Food - Pad Thai

Pad Thai: Thai Stir-Fried Noodles

Pad Thai is a quick, easy and healthy option any time of the day. It’s also a popular Thai street food.

Preparation time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: 10 minutes | Serves: 2


  • 200g rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 100g shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, crushed
  • Lime wedges, for serving



  1. Soak the rice noodles in warm water for about 15 minutes or until they become soft. Drain and set aside. This step ensures that the noodles are pliable and easy to stir-fry.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and stir-fry for a minute until fragrant, infusing the oil with its aroma.
  3. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink and opaque. This ensures that the shrimp are fully cooked and tender.
  4. Push the shrimp to one side of the pan and pour the beaten egg into the other side. Scramble the egg until cooked, breaking it up into small pieces.
  5. Add the soaked rice noodles to the pan and stir-fry for a minute, ensuring that the noodles are evenly coated with the flavours of the garlic, shrimp, and egg.
  6. In a small bowl, mix tamarind paste, fish sauce, and palm sugar. Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss everything together until well coated. Adjust the flavours according to your preference.
  7. Add the bean sprouts and cook for another minute, allowing them to retain their crunchiness.
  8. Serve hot, garnished with crushed roasted peanuts and lime wedges. The lime wedges add a tangy and citrusy flavour to the dish, enhancing its overall taste.

Mango Sticky Rice, ข้าวสวยมูลมะม่วง

Mango Sticky Rice: A Sweet Delight

Mango sticky rice is my personal favourite Thai dessert. It’s easy to make and taste delicious!

Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Serves: 4


  • 2 cups sticky rice (also known as glutinous rice)
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup palm sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish



  1. Rinse the sticky rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in water for at least 4 hours or overnight. This step helps to soften the rice and remove excess starch.
  2. Drain the soaked rice and steam it in a steamer basket for about 20 minutes or until the rice becomes soft and sticky. Steaming ensures that the rice is cooked evenly and has the right texture.
  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat the coconut milk, palm sugar, and salt over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. This creates a sweet coconut sauce that complements the sticky rice.
  4. Remove the steamed sticky rice from the steamer and transfer it to a bowl. Pour the coconut milk mixture over the rice and stir gently to coat the rice evenly. The coconut milk mixture adds flavour and moisture to the rice.
  5. Let the rice and coconut milk mixture sit for about 10 minutes to allow the flavours to meld. This step enhances the taste and texture of the sticky rice.
  6. Serve the mango slices alongside the sticky rice, garnished with sesame seeds. The mango adds a sweet and juicy element to the dish, while the sesame seeds provide a nutty flavour and visual appeal.

In Conclusion

Congratulations! You have now embarked on your journey to mastering Thai cooking. By following this beginner’s guide and experimenting with these essential recipes, you will soon be able to create delicious Thinglish and authentic Thai dishes right in your own kitchen. Remember to have fun, explore new flavours, and embrace the vibrant world of Thai cuisine!


What are some essential Thai herbs and spices?

Lemongrass, Thai Basil, Galangal, Kaffir Lime Leaves, and Thai Chilies are some essential Thai herbs and spices.

What are some essential Thai sauces and condiments?

Fish Sauce, Soy Sauce, Oyster Sauce, and Coconut Milk are some essential Thai sauces and condiments.

What is the recipe for Green Curry with Chicken?

The recipe for Green Curry with Chicken includes ingredients such as green curry paste, coconut milk, boneless chicken, mixed vegetables, fish sauce, palm sugar, Thai basil leaves, and Thai jasmine rice.

How do you make Mango Sticky Rice?

To make Mango Sticky Rice, you need sticky rice, ripe mango, coconut milk, palm sugar, salt, and sesame seeds. The sticky rice is soaked, steamed, and then mixed with a sweet coconut milk mixture. It is served with sliced mango and garnished with sesame seeds.

Beginner’s Guide to Thai Cooking: 3 Essential Recipes

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