Preparing a Tom Kha Gai Soup

Tom Kha Gai
Image by rise-a-mui from Pixabay

One of the quintessential Thailand dishes is a Tom Kha Gai (ต้มข่าไก่) or in Western parlance a coconut and galangal chicken soup. It is said to be almost a curry but not quite.  It is easy to make if you are happy to find all the ingredients. The main focus of the dish is coconut milk and the galangal because ginger is too rough for this. 


  • 2 chicken breasts – skinless
  • 1 large white onion or 2 small white onions or three shallots – diced
  • 6 cups coconut milk
  • 500ml chicken stock or broth. If unavailable, use the same amount of water with 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 1 thumb piece of galangal rather than ginger
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • 200 grams of oyster mushrooms or shiitake if the oyster mushrooms are unavailable
  • 5 – 10 Thai chilies – chopped into small pieces and some into long slithers
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt to taste
  • 4 tablespoons of lime juice
  • small bunch of coriander/cilantro, chopped including the stems


  1. Into a large stock pot or casserole dish, add all the ingredients but not the coconut milk, chicken breasts or lime juice.
  2. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat quickly to a simmer. 
  3. After 5 minutes, add the chicken breasts and cook for up to 15 minutes and make sure the internal part of the chicken is cooked through by not being pink.
  4. After the chicken is cooked in the broth, shred it into pieces with two forks.
  5. Add the coconut milk and lime juice along with any additional salt should it merit it.
  6. Garnish with wedges of lime and any extra coriander still left.
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