Gaeng Om Gai (Thai Isan Style Curry)

If you’re like many of us, find yourself staring into the refrigerator, pondering what to do with the assorted vegetables that are still perfectly good but nearing the end of their prime. Enter Gaeng Om Gai, a flavorful and versatile Thai Isan style curry that transforms those fridge leftovers into a delicious and hearty meal.

Gaeng Om Gai  (Thai Isan Style Curry)
Gaeng Om Gai (Thai Isan Style Curry)

The “May Have” Ingredients for Isan Curry

Gaeng Om Gai is a rustic and aromatic curry that hails from the Isan (North Eastern) region of Thailand, known for its robust and earthy flavors. What makes this dish particularly special is its flexibility. While there are some must-have ingredients to achieve that authentic Thai taste, the choice of vegetables can be wonderfully diverse. Japanese pumpkin or Kabocha and squashes add a natural sweetness and creamy texture, while cabbage and mushrooms bring a satisfying earthiness. Chayote, winter squash, zucchini, bok choy, and yu choy can also be seamlessly incorporated, each contributing unique flavors and textures that make every bite interesting and enjoyable.

Another “may have” ingredient is “Plara”, a traditional fermented fish sauce made from freshwater fish and rice bran, commonly used in Northeastern Thai cuisine (Isan). It has a strong, pungent flavor and is often used to enhance the taste of various dishes, including curries and salads. In this recipe, I use the regular fish sauce as “Plara” is not available nearby.

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Om Gai Ingredients
Om Gai Ingredients

The Must Have Herbs in Thai North Eastern Curry

The heart and soul of Gaeng Om Gai lie in its essential aromatics and herbs. Dill, with its fresh and aroma, is a must-have that distinguishes this curry from other Thai dishes. Green onions add a subtle sharpness, while lemongrass and galangal bring in a fragrant, citrusy undertone that is quintessential to many Thai curries. Shallots provide a sweet and savory base, and Thai chilies offer the heat that balances out the dish. These ingredients are non-negotiable if you’re aiming for an authentic experience, as they create the complex flavor profile that makes Gaeng Om Gai so beloved.

Gaeng Om Gai
Gaeng Om Gai

Cooking Steps for Isan Curry

Preparing Gaeng Om Gai is as much about the process as it is about the ingredients. Start by sautéing the lemongrass, galangal, shallots, and Thai chilies in a bit of oil or water to release their aromas and flavors. (I used water, but if you can go for vegetable oil if you prefer.) Once fragrant, add in your choice of chicken and cook until at least 80% done.

Then, it’s time to add in your selected vegetables—Japanese pumpkin or Kabocha squash, butternut squashes, mushrooms, or whatever else you have on hand starting from the harder vegetables. Pour in enough water or broth to cover the ingredients and let the curry simmer until the vegetables are tender and the flavors meld together beautifully. Just before serving, stir in the green onions and generous amounts of fresh dill and optionally toasted rice powder allowing them to infuse the curry with their distinctive flavors.

Om Gai Steps
Om Gai Steps

Storing, Reheating, and Serving

This curry is perfect for those nights when you need a quick, nutritious meal that doesn’t compromise on taste. Serve it with a side of sticky rice or steamed jasmine rice, and you have a complete, satisfying dinner that’s sure to please everyone at the table. Moreover, if you love this soup or curry, you will love my Gaeng Om Neua (Isan Curry with Beef).

To store the leftover Om Gai, simply keep it in an airtight container and refrigerate. Then reheat on the stove or the microwave when you want to enjoy it again.

Gaeng Om Gai (Thai Isan Style Curry)

Gaeng Om Gai (Thai Isan Style Curry)

Mary Thatcher
If you're like many of us, find yourself staring into the refrigerator, pondering what to do with the assorted vegetables that are still perfectly good but nearing the end of their prime. Enter Gaeng Om Gai, a flavorful and versatile Thai Isan style curry that transforms those fridge leftovers into a delicious and hearty meal.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Lao, thai
Servings 4
Calories 306 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

For the Curry Paste
For the Curry
  • 1 lb chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • tbsp chicken bouillon
  • 1 cup Japanese pumpkin (chopped)
  • 2 cups cabbage
  • 1 lb bok choy (or Yu Choy – optional)
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/2 cup dill
  • 1/2 cup Tha basil (or lemon basil)

Instructions
 

Prepare the chicken and vegetables.
  • Slice the chicken into bite size and set aside.
  • Wash and chop vegetables into bite size. Set aside.
Make the Curry Paste.
  • Pound together the galangal, Thai chilies, lemongrass, garlic, and shallots. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, you can use a blender or simply chop these ingredients to create a rough paste.
  • In a pot, add a few tablespoons of water and cook the curry paste until it becomes fragrant. Add the chicken and cook it with the curry paste until it is no longer pink or at least 80% cooked.
  • Add water, chicken bouillon, and fish sauce to season.
  • Next, add the vegetables, starting with the harder ones like Japanese pumpkin, followed by cabbage and bok choy. If using pumpkin, add it once the chicken is 80% cooked. Cook the chicken and pumpkin together for another five minutes until the chicken is fully done. Then, add the softer vegetables, but reserve the dill and green onion for later.
  • Once all the vegetables are cooked, turn off the heat and add the dill, green onion, and optionally, toasted rice powder. Serve with sticky rice or steamed jasmine rice and enjoy!

Video

@stickyricethaikitchen

“Gaeng Om Gai “: Thai Isan Style Curry ingredients ⬇️ For the Curry Paste 1/2 tsp salt 3 slices galangal 3 cloves garlic 3 shallots 1 lemongrass For the Curry 1 lb chicken thighs (boneless, skinless) 4 cups water 3 tbsp fish sauce (If you can find “Plara” – traditional fermented fish sauce made from freshwater fish and rice bran, commonly used in Northeastern Thai cuisine (Isan), give it a try .) 1½ tbsp chicken bouillon 1 cup Japanese pumpkin (chopped) 2 cups cabbage 1 lb bok choy (or Yu Choy – optional) 3 green onions 1/2 cup dill 1/2 cup Tha basil (or lemon basil) Full recipe and list of other vegetables that work for the dish : www.stickyricethaikitchen.com #gardentotable#thaifood#isanfood#laofood#dill#soup#homemadefood#kabucha#pumpkin#basil#cocina#แกงอ่อมไก่

♬ Sunny Day – Smoked

Notes

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Nutrition

Serving: 2cupsCalories: 306kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 21gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 1849mgPotassium: 669mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 5330IUVitamin C: 38mgCalcium: 108mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Gaeng Om Gai, Om Gai, Thai Isan Curry
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