Kaeng khiew wan gai (sweet green stew of chicken)

May 31, 2007 at 2:46 AM (animals, birds, chicken, chiles and other capsicums, coconut, dishes by cuisine, dishes by main ingredient, jackfruit, Jihva entries, Thailand/ Issarn/ Laos, various nuts like me, vegetables/ fruits)

    Oft referred to as the queen of Thai c-c-c…(must I say it? Nope!!) stews, kaeng khiew wan is lushly herbal and fragrant, and most provocatively pale-green from its infusion of krung kaeng khiew wan


    In honor of Jihva for Ingredients: June of 2007: Jackfruit, hosted by Bee and Jai of Jugalbandi, I have constructed a special kaeng khiew wan: I have paired green jackfruit with breast of chicken and added pieces of red capsicum, as well as shelled green peas and sliced mushrooms, to complement the colour scheme. It is finished with a handful each of torn kaffir lime leaves and Thai basil.

    I must be honest with you: this is the first time I have cooked with young, green jackfruit. I have tasted the ripe fruit, but it is a very different thing in vegetable form. Everything I had seen in the mature fruit is here miniaturized, with a unique texture, and a delicate flavour perhaps somewhere between green bean-pods and lychee nuts, or thereabouts! I have seen the swooning of other food-bloggers, but now I understand why; I was forced to purchase another can as I had nibbled my way through an entire one that was reserved for this dish! Thanks to all you swooners out there for introducing me to a new, and very likeable, vegetable.


    Somehow, the pallid-green pieces of jackfruit turned to an interesting shade of lavender while cooking, but it’s all in the fun…and while making the krung (masala paste) for this stew might be a bit arduous, the actual preparation of a Thai stew is as easy as breathing- honestly! I put the whole thing together while chatting with my mother and her long-time friend and never missed a beat! They even had fun sniffing and tasting some of the ingredients before they were tossed in. The end result, simmering away in my wok, reminds me a bit of a quiet lake with fallen leaves floating on the surface- nothing could be calmer or more relaxing.

Kaeng Khiew Wan Gai
(with green jackfruit, red capsicums, green peas and mushrooms)
(I don’t know the Thai for all of that! 🙂  )

2/3 C krung kaeng khiew wan (green curry paste)

1/2 C coconut cream, 3 C thin coconut milk, 1 C thick coconut milk (or use 2 tins of coconut milk, let it sit for awhile before opening and divide accordingly)*

4 chicken breasts, skin and bones removed, sliced in 1/4″-1/2″ strips (the bones can also be left in for more flavour, and although I often do this, I was in a filleted-kind-of-mood)

3 C green jackfruit, diced into wedges of about 1/2″ (I used two tins as this is all that is available here)

1 lg. red capsicum, diced into 1/4″ x 1″ pieces or sliced into 1/4″ strips

about 7 button or other mushrooms, sliced 1/8″-1/4″ wide

1/2 C shelled green peas

about 12 or so hot, red Thai chiles, stems intact, split along the length

4 T or so nam pla (fish water/sauce)

1 t sugar, or to taste

a handful of kaffir lime leaves, carefully torn on each half

a handful of Thai basil leaves

1)Heat the coconut cream over low heat in a wok or similar utensil and, stiring frquently, allow the oil to separate from the solids. It will just begin to smell roasted.

2)Add the krung and stir and fry until the raw smell disappears.

3)Add the chicken pieces and continue stirring, raise the heat a bit, until the chicken begins to change colour and is well-mixed with the paste.

4)Add the thin coconut milk and allow to come to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to very low and allow to simmer slowly.

5)When the chicken is just tender, add the mushrooms and continue simmering for about 5 minutes or so. If using fresh jackfruit, this should probably be added now as well.

6)Add the remaining vegetables and simmer, stirring now and then until they are almost cooked, but not soft.

7)Add the nam pla and sugar to taste.

8)Add the torn kaffir lime leaves and stir gently. Simmer for 2-3 more minutes.

9)Remove from heat, ladle into a serving dish, and, with a flourish of elegance, pour the thick coconut milk over the surface; use a spoon to swirl it if desired. Scatter over it the basil leaves as well, and serve with hot, steamed Thai jasmine rice, and accompaniments such as Thai cucumber salad and chiles-in-fish-sauce (these you’ll have to search for recipes yourself to try, for now, as I was too hungry and enraptured by the scent of this dish to bother…) 😀

This would serve at least 6 I think, 8 -10 with other dishes. Enjoy!


*When using tinned/canned coconut milk, the cream floats at the very top, the thick milk is just underneath, and the watery, thin milk sinks to the bottom.



  1. Anita said,

    Yes, of course. Canned jackfruit! Ah, the convenience.
    This must be delicious – I want some right now. Thai flavours are calling out – hot and sweet and lemony, and then the sweet of the coconut too! I have no excuses now…it is jackfruit season, and the vendor will even do the hard work of peeling it for me – I’ll just go and get some. The curry must be heaven on the rice…drool.
    But what is with the canned jackfruit turning lavender??? Too fishy…

    Well, I’m sitting here looking at my seed collection, looking for snake gourds, and thinking that most of these packets were bought just because the visual design for the printing was was rather striking; my eventual heir can sell them as curious collectibles in 70 years perhaps…[sighs] What were you saying? Ah, yes…the lavender-colour…well, it’s sort of a grey-lavender- not unpretty! But it was a bit dismaying to have my colour-scheme upset…I almost added julienned red-onions to tie it all together; truly if I were entertaining and this happened I would do so…

    This is easily forgotten, though, when a bowl of this with hot rice, the lime-leaf vapours wafting upward, is beneath one’s face. I must say it’s the best green curry I’ve tasted to date, and I’ve eaten a lot of it, and I really don’t mean to “toot my own horn” here. I’m just saying it like it is!

    Back to chiding me for American convenience again are ya? 🙂 Well, Anita, I was born and raised here; travel and international correspondence has expanded my awareness of the poor quality of tropical produce immediately available to me. I’d like to say that I’m satisfied with locally-grown things, but I don’t like my walls off-white, I’ve done a lot of crazy things too controversial to discuss with most openly, and I get frustrated sometimes that I am not able to live long enough to taste everything the world has to offer in the gastronomic sense. As it is, there are only a handful of dishes I prepare with any regularity. Sometimes, memories of those homey dishes of my childhood eaten while visiting my grandmother peck at me: homemade rye bread with butter, bratwurst with saurkraut, stuffed bell peppers, cabbage rolls…have you ever noticed how similar they are to the dolmas of the Middle East? 😀

  2. Anita said,

    Of course, I need the calming and relaxing attributes too to be followed by the heat of the peppers!

    Oh, it’s not that hot…truly! Even I have my preferred limit, and my two observers were tasting it without gasping or dunking their heads in water; the mix of chiles in the krung is, after all, entirely up to you! 😉

  3. bee said,

    pel, this looks wonderful. you must must taste freshly cut green jackfruit. it tastes and feels very meaty, yet tender. kathal (green jackfruit) is the closest veggie in terms of texture to cooked chicken, me thinks, but better tasting. it doesn’t have the ‘eggy’ notes that chicken has.
    also, it’s quite a different animal from ripe jackfruit.

    That it is! It’s a dream of mine to taste it fresh, yes indeed! And the texture does remind me of chicken a bit…kind of like oyster mushrooms do- ever try them?

  4. Anita said,

    Just innocent banter really…
    and sometimes just to make me feel better, sort of like ’sour grapes’ too…

    Oh, who cares about that? 😀 Have you ever tried dolmas? 🙂

  5. Manisha said,

    Pel, despite the jackfruit, it looks really good! I would make this without the jackfruit, of course!
    Bee, you reminded me of a restaurant in NJ my sis was telling me about. It’s called Veggie Heaven and only serves stuff made from vegetables. So you order shrimp but it’s made from veggies even though it tastes and looks like shrimp and even has the texture of shrimp. I want to go there just to see the stuff they make. But if I want to eat chicken, I will eat the real thing!
    Anita? You’re admitting to something?

    That was a beautiful moment that I will not soon forget… you still haven’t forgotten that jackfruit-laden vacation have you?

  6. Sharmi said,

    ohh that pot of stew looks so comfy. all those spices and kaffir leaves and basil would have made it taste great. great one for JFI.

    Thank you Sharmi; it is quite the aromatic dish!

  7. Cynthia said,

    Pel, that dish is outstanding, what would I not give just to have a spoonful to taste all the flavours and then to have some more, over some rice or with a thick crusty piece of bread to mop up all the sauce. (Sigh)
    Which of the 27 ingredients are holding you back?

  8. Anita said,

    I have different waking hours than all of you and it is so damn (sorry) inconvenient! That is all I’m admitting to.
    And it would be nice to have access to all those fancy cheeses, the blueberries and the blackberries, and the inexpensive wines (compare them to Indian wines!), and the affordable gourmet dinners-out…and the libraries! Don’t do this to me…(sigh)
    I have a strong feeling that one day you will return here; until then, we can all share and live an exotic life vicariously. Oddly enough, small things are changing here. I see little touches of the East being assimilated more and more, from hip-hop’s touches of “banghra” to the girl-of-obvious-European-decent I chatted with at the grocery store a few weeks ago who was purchasing a bottle of nam pla, and was in the habit of using it exclusively for salting her dishes. I’ve known for some time that eventually SE Asian (Thai/Laotian/Hmong/Vietnamese are the largest subcultures here) food would be assimilated into the local cuisine here in Green Bay; anyone who reads food and history can’t deny that it has always been this way…in fact, I made up a soup recipe…well, maybe a few…

  9. outofthegarden said,

    Hi Pelicano — I love Thai curries in any incarnation, and I love jackfruit, even from the can… so your dish is a must-try for me. Now tell me, where in the wilds of WI, or better yet Northern MI, might I find a kaffir lime leaf when that time comes!!? I can get them in MA, but the thought of freezing them… eek.
    Linda, they actually freeze very well and retain their oils for at least a month, but Green Bay has 6-7 “Asian” grocery stores, Appleton- 4 I believe, that sell, on a regular basis: fresh spearmint, Thai basil, Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galanga, fresh turmeric, Vietnamese mint, other strange herbs like “gahn yang” that have no English equivalent, as well as bamboo-shoots in bulk, banana flowers/buds, 5-6 kinds of rices, whole moong and soybeans in bulk, and a slew of fresh vegetables like dudhe/bottle gourd, bitter melons, banana leaves, true yams, taro roots, green papayas of course, oyster mushrooms, chiles…Thai green/white eggplant, etc, etc…and then the dried and canned stuff: noodles galore, Szechuan pepper, star anise, betel nuts, betel leaves (sometimes these can be found fresh), Thai coffee, tea….blah, blah, blah….the farmers’ markets (big one is Cherry St. on Saturdays 6a-noon) in summer have all the locally-grown, beautiful stuff!
    Just drop me an email before you caravan through this way and I can recommend some shops…

  10. bee said,

    linda, lime zest works very well in place of kaffir leaves.
    manisha, you mean ‘mock duck’ kind of thingies? i’ve eaten chinese veggie dishes made of textured vegetable protein masquerading as meat. i prefer real meat to that.
    when i say meat, i mean red meat. i was never a fan of chicken even in my carnivorous days, so i prefer green jackfruit to it any day.

    That’s actually made of wheat gluten/seitan…the starch of wheat flour is washed away and this remains….very ancient food, I’ve produced some myself! 🙂

  11. bee said,

    pel, yeah, i love oyster mushrooms – all mushrooms, really.
    I’m with you there- and the research into the minute phytochemicals that various mushrooms contain is interesting, is it not?

  12. Anita said,

    And he has already made them gluten thingies too!
    Yes…Chinese-style “red-cooked” in fact! I knew you’d be spouting something about that! 🙂

  13. Manisha said,

    Bee, I think it is more than mock duck and tofurkey. Ah! The wise man has spake. It’s made from wheat gluten.

    Right you are TLO! 😉

  14. bee said,

    oh, yeah, i remember now. i’ve seen cans of ‘wheat gluten’ chunks in the chinese store in england.

  15. Manisha said,

    Wheat gluten it is. Chinese it is. Veggie Heaven

  16. Susan said,

    I see everyone is mad for jackfruit. I’m sure I can conjure up a can somewhere. A very nice site you have here, Pel. It’s very easy for me to get lost in world cuisine. Your site is yet one more path in that direction. Seems you have been traveling a lot through your kitchen, too. So, your grandmother served you bratwurst, saurkraut and stuffed cabbage. So did mine.

    She also took a class in Chinese cooking (quite the rage from the 50’s – 70’s), but rarely was able to able to show off her new talents, as my grandfather was a “meat-n-potatoes” kinda guy…but little touches of China showed up now and then. I can’t tell you how much I miss relating to her! Is yours still “with us”?

  17. Manisha said,

    [Holds hand up high] Oh! I adore jackfruit! I am drooling while I wait for the Jihva!!!

    Good for you Manisha; I knew you’d come around! Not everyone enjoys it you know…oh, you’re slipping! So many typos I had to correct!

  18. Susan said,

    Alas, no. She is gone, but lived to 92 on an incurable German diet of old country cooking and tons and tons of sweets. A peaceable end, too. No major health problems ever. She literally just died of old age.

    I only hope we all live and pass in such a way.

  19. Manisha said,

    See now that’s what I like about Blogger. You can only delete comments, you can’t edit them. Go Blogger! You rock! (Other times you totally suck.)
    As for you Pel, you will regret this soon enough. Bah! Humbug! Esp to Jackfruit. Sukha bombil is fragrant compared to the …

    LOL….tsk tsk tsk….there’s a heckler in the crowd! 🙂

  20. Jihva for Jackfruit - Roundup » jugalbandi said,

    […] Kaeng Khiew Wan Gai (Thai Sweet Green Chicken Stew) ~ Elaichi et Cetera […]

  21. Anita said,

    I like off-white walls, BTW. But then, I also like lime-green on my walls! Full of contradictions, just like my country.
    No, I have never made dolmas – aren’t they too much work?
    Where has TLO disappeared to?

    Not any more work than pathrode/patra bajia…well, no maybe I shouldn’t say that…each one is done individually, but by the time you get good at it, the rolling is finished! [contemplates that for a few seconds; decides to not elaborate]

    I have seen beautiful rooms in off-white; what I don’t like is the overuse of it as an excuse….it’s way overdone here…

  22. Manisha said,

    All my walls are a shade of a cool green. Never thought I would like it but I love it! It is very soothing to the eyes when you come out of the bright CO sun. Also, it makes the house kind of merge with the trees in the yard. Um, green rocks. And, yes, I did say that!
    I’m here. Just had a very busy weekend. Hobbling around on swollen feet is not fun. My feet are back now! Yay! The best part was the TLC I got

    Awwwwwww…. the most I get these days is waking up with a cat licking my hair! Glad to hear you’re better!

    Cool green I love too…very soothing, nice when warmed up in spots with touches of brass/gold-toned metal, or yellow things…muted yellow….ORANGE is interesting too…red-orange if you’re talented. Green rocks? Moss?

  23. jugalbandi » Thai Green Curry (Gaeng Keow Wan) said,

    […] is probably our favourite. We’ve tried various recipes for Thai green curry. The first was THIS ONE (with vegetarian substitutions) from the Prince of […]

  24. enjay said,

    Just found your blog via Jugalbandi..what an amazing collection of recipes! I can tell that I’ll be spending a Lot of time on your blog. Love the way you’ve categorized your posts!

    Why, thank you! Take your time…

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