Tom kha kai’ or ’Tom kha gai’ (ต้มข่าไก่) is such a simple dish to make, I feel almost ashamed to post it here. But it is absolutely one of my favourite Thai dishes! I cannot do otherwise than to honour it with a post!

Apparently, the cultural brothers of Thais – the Laotians – have exactly the same soup, but they garnish it with dill instead of coriander. Apparently, Thais do not eat dill at all whereas the Laotians do (much like the Vietnamese).

The word ’kha’ means galangal – which says a lot about the chief flavour of the dish. The word ’gai’ is borrowed from Chinese, which might also mean that chicken was a Chinese import.

The soup should be snowy white. If it starts turning yellow or green, you are overcooking the lemon grass, which will have lent a bitterness to your soup.



  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 300g chicken thigh meat (skinless and boneless)
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 4 Thai red chilies
  • 2 stalks lemon grass
  • 1 white onion
  • 200ml water
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • Thai fish sauce
  • 5-6 strawmushrooms (optional)
  • 1 tbs palm sugar (or white sugar)
  • 1 green lime
  • 4cm long galangal
  • Garnishing: coriander leaves

Serving: 2 persons


  1. Heat your some vegetable oil in a pot on low heat. Lightly sautee your onion until soft. Add in your chicken.
  2. Once the chicken is slightly brown, add in your coconut milk and water. Bring to boil then set to simmer.
  3. Add in your lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, strawmushrooms, chilies, galangal and sugar.
  4. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and tender.
  5. Add fish sauce to taste.
  6. Remove from heat and pour into two serving bowls. Garnish with coriander leaves and squeeze half a lime’s juice into each bowl.
  7. Serve immediately.