Authentic Thai Flavors On Keto?
Being on a ketogenic diet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your Thai favorites! Like many of my fellow keto dieters, Thai food is a longtime favorite takeout meal of mine. There is nothing better than a well-made curry with fresh crisp vegetables, perfectly cooked meat and (gasp) long grain rice! Living in the keto world, we know the added sugars and starches make us feel less than ideal.
The days prior to creating this recipe I was desperately craving a good takeout meal but did not want to derail my keto diet. I started recipe planning and thought about what flavors were needed to recreate a keto-friendly version of Thai Red Curry Chicken.
Let’s Talk About Flavors
The first big decision was the base flavor: curry powder or curry paste? I almost defaulted to curry powder because it’s in my pantry, but then after a little research decided to take the plunge and pick up curry paste. I went with curry paste because, while it does not have a ton of heat, is does have a solid flavor profile. A blend of spices, oils, ginger and garlic make up curry paste; this flavor blend does SO MUCH for any Thai dish and doesn’t require much else to “spice things up”.
After deciding on curry flavoring, I immediately went to ginger and garlic. I went with ginger paste and minced garlic (the kind that comes in a jar) because that’s what I had in my fridge and it saves time! Certainly fresh ginger and garlic could elevate this meal to another level, but I’m a believer in using what you’ve got on-hand.
Final spice decision: heat. Where would the fire come from? While weighing the options things got heated: sriracha, cayenne pepper, habanero hot sauce, ground ghost pepper or crushed red pepper flakes. I went with the latter – classic crushed red pepper flakes. Crushed red pepper flakes offer heat but will not overpower recipes if used in moderation.
The Curry Sauce
Traditional Thai curry sauce recipes incorporate canned coconut milk. While canned coconut is delicious, has great flavors and offers healthy fats, it’s also higher in carbs. Depending on the brand of canned coconut milk, carbs can be as high as 14 per can, which is quite a bit if you’re following a lower carb diet.
The perfect alternative to traditional canned coconut milk is unsweetened coconut milk (from the cold section of your grocery store). The brand So Delicious has an organic option with only 45 calories and less than 1 carb per 8oz serving. Unsweetened coconut milk is the perfect way to cut down on carbs without losing coconut flavors. However, cooking with low calorie coconut milk also means less fat. To compensate for this we’ve upped the amount of coconut oil used in this recipe.
Cooking with low calorie coconut milk comes with another hurdle: sauce texture. Low calorie coconut milk is creamy, but not as creamy as traditional coconut milk, resulting in a both-like texture (which would be great if we were making soup!). To thicken the curry sauce, I incorporated Just Mayo. Unlike regular mayo, Just Mayo does not breakdown when added to sauces, making it the perfect thickening agent. Alternatively, if you’re not a fan of Just Mayo, you could use heavy whipping cream to thicken the curry sauce.
Meats & Veggies
Whenever possible I use ingredients I’ve got on-hand. When creating this recipe I had chicken breast, onion, red & orange bell pepper and zucchini as main ingredients, along with avocado and chive for garnish. If you don’t have these particular items that’s fine! Use what you have. Green pepper and chicken thigh would be an easy substitute (shrimp, even!)
Brands I Cooked With
- Organic Coconut Oil – Member’s Mark
- Organic Coconut Milk – So Delicious
- Ginger Paste – Trader Joe’s
- Red Curry Paste – Thai Kitchen
- Chicken Breast – Perdue
Nutrition Per Serving
- Calories: 409
- Fat: 25.6g
- Protein: 36g
- Carbs: 4.4g
- Fiber: 1.4g
- Net Carbs: 3g
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