Khua Kling is our favourite quick & easy dry Thai Mince Curry recipe to serve at dinner.
Khua Kling, also known as Thai Dry Mince Curry, is a traditional dish from Southern Thailand featuring ground meat, red curry paste, fish sauce, spicy red chili, lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaf.
We’ve traveled extensively through Thailand and eaten at all of the best Thai restaurants in Toronto. We’ve taken Thai cooking classes in Chang Mai and learned expert cooking techniques courtesy of the executive chef at JW Marriott Phuket Resort.
Cooking Thai food at home is quick and easy. Our flavourful Khua Kling recipe takes under 20 minutes to prepare and keeps in the fridge for several days. You’ll love loitering over these spicy Thai Mince Curry leftovers!
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Travel to Thailand by Making Khua Kling Mince Curry at Home
I love traveling through Asia. My first visit had me living in South Korea for a year as a teacher and it’s where I was first introduced to fermented vegetables like kimchi.
After my contract ended in Seoul I travelled throughout southeast Asia for 6 months, visiting the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
On my first visit I spent over a month backpacking through Thailand. I’ve revisited Thailand two times since as a food and travel journalist and always love to discover new regional dishes. Over the years I’ve explored Thai destinations such as Ko Phi Phi, Krabi, Chiang Khong, Chang Mai, Sukothai and Bangkok.
What I found most fascinating is Thailand’s distinct regional food cultures. Much like the regional cuisines found in Germany, Italy or Spain, each town in Thailand had its own local speciality.
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Where To Eat Dry Thai Mince Curry
If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Thai restaurant that serves traditional Khua Kling.
Haven’t traveled to Thailand before? It may be helpful to first sample Khua Kling at a local Thai restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can also assess the variety of ingredients used and sample the correct texture before trying to make Thai Dry Mince Curry at home from scratch.
I spent months researching the best Thai restaurants in Toronto, visiting popular restaurants that serve authentic Thai dishes such as Sabai Sabai, Sukothai, Khao San Road, Pai, Kiin, Bangkok Garden, Mengrai Thai and Favorites Thai BBQ. If you’re looking to sample authentic Khua Kling in Toronto try visiting one of these award-winning restaurants.
Join Dobbernationloves founder Andrew Dobson in the kitchen by signing up for a fun virtual cooking class! Classes begin with a cocktail that you can sip while preparing 2-3 recipes that are curated around a unique culinary theme. Check out our current Cooking Class Schedule!
What Is Khua Kling?
Khua Kling, also known as Thai Dry Mince Curry, is an authentic street food dish served in Southern Thailand. It’s often likened to Thailand’s take on “fast food,” as it’s affordable and takes just seconds to prepare.
Khua roughly translates to “cooking with little or no water” and Kling means “tossing,” the action created when cooks use a wok to stir fry. Since Khua Kling is a Thai dry curry, you don’t need to use a lot of oil when frying, like you would in other Thai and Chinese dishes.
The history of the dish dates back to Prime Minister Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram’s Thai cultural mandates during WWII. Khua Kling, Pad Kra Pao and Pad Thai were some of the government promoted dishes in local Thai food contests.
The dish is traditionally prepared with minced pork but can also be substituted for ground chicken, turkey or beef or a mixture of your favourite ground meats. Our easy Thai mince curry recipe features a mixture of ground beef and pork, spicy red chili, fish sauce, lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaves.
The addition of sliced lemongrass and finely shaved kaffir lime leaves contributes to balancing the spicy meat with fresh citrus flavours.
Indian vs Thai Curry
The two countries that are most associated with curry are India and Thailand. Each nation prepares curry in a unique way. In general, the term refers to a savoury meat, seafood or vegetable dish cooked in a sauce that is accompanied by rice, flatbread or fresh salads.
In India, curry (or masala) encompasses a variety of dishes that use a complex combination of spices or herbs, usually including ground turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, and fresh or dried chilies. You’ll find unique regional takes on the Indian curry concept in neighbouring countries such as Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and The Maldives.
Indian curries generally do not feature beef, as the cow is considered a sacred animal. The only region in India you are likely to find beef on a menu is in Kerala, which was colonized by the Portuguese and later by the Dutch. You can enjoy beef dishes in the colonial city of Cochin as well as luxury resorts like Coconut Lagoon.
The most famous Mince Curry recipes are found in South African kitchens, developed by Indian immigrants. These fragrant curries typically feature ground beef, peas and potatoes.
Khua Kling is a unique Thai dish as it’s intentionally served dry, a contrast to the more well known wet coconut milk curries you may be familiar with in Thailand.
Types of Thai Curry
In Thailand, curry refers both to dishes in Thai cuisine that are made with various types of curry paste and to the pastes themselves. A wet Thai curry is made from curry paste, coconut milk, meat, seafood, vegetables and herbs.
You’ll find unique regional takes on the Thai curry concept in neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Popular Thai curries include Green, Red, Yellow, Penang and Masaman. Most Thai curries are categorized by the colour of the curry paste. The colour of the chilies and other ingredients gives each curry its distinct hue. Traditionally, all Thai curries were made with the same ingredients except for one thing: the chilies. Usually green curry is the mildest, red is the hottest and yellow falls somewhere in between.
Masaman Curry uniquely influenced Thai cooking thanks to visiting Persian traders. Masaman is a broken translation for Muslim. It originated in the south of Thailand near the border of Malaysia and is a thick sauce with a mild, slightly sweet flavour. Massaman curry dishes distinguish themselves by the inclusion of several whole spices and peanuts.
Penang Curry is sweeter than its sister, spicy Thai Red Curry. It is named for the island of Penang off the west coast of Malaysia and is served sometimes topped with coconut cream.
Most Thai curry paste recipes are made with spicy chilies, garlic, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, shallot, fish sauce, shrimp paste, cane sugar, lime, spices and coconut milk.
We use Thai red curry paste when preparing Khua Kling.
Homemade Thai Red Curry Paste
Feel free to use your favourite store bought Thai red curry paste at the grocery store or prepare from scratch in your kitchen. Use a mortar and pestle to grind all the ingredients together until you’ve created a smooth and fragrant mixture. This homemade Thai red curry paste recipe yields 4-5 tablespoons.
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds, roasted until brown
- 2 cardamom pods, roasted until brown
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 10, large red dried chillies (seeds removed soaked in water for 10 minutes then finely chopped)
- 1 tsp galangal, skin removed and chopped
- 2 tsp lemongrass, chopped
- 1 tsp kaffir lime peel, chopped
- 1 tbsp coriander root, chopped
- 3 tbsp shallots, chopped
- 3 tbsp garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp shrimp paste
- 10, Thai red chillies
What Meat To Use in Khua Kling
Authentic Khua Kling is traditionally prepared using freshly minced pork. You will also find the popular Thai dish served with ground chicken, turkey, beef and even seafood.
If it’s your first time cooking Khua Kling we suggest using ground pork so you can appreciate the desired taste and texture. After testing this recipe several times we prefer to use a mix of lean ground pork and lean ground beef. Since this is a dry mince curry you want to purchase ground meat that is as lean as possible to reduce the amount of fat that renders in your wok during the cooking process.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian you might want to try making the dish with finely minced mushrooms, fresh vegetables and tofu.
Tips for Making Thai Mince Curry
If it’s your first time making a dry Thai mince curry we suggest you start by reading the ingredients list and recipe directions below.
Khua Kling is the perfect quick & easy Thai dish to make when you’ve got a busy week and find yourself unable to cook for hours on end. From start to finish it only takes 20 minutes to cook at home in your kitchen.
We suggest cooking the recipe in a large wok or non-stick skillet, stirring with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
When slicing the spicy red chilies, be sure to wear gloves and avoid touching the seeds as they contain oil that will irritate your eyes and skin. I once forgot to wear gloves when slicing a mountain of birds eye chilies and spent hours suffering the sting of burning hands. If you do find yourself with swollen and irritated skin from chili oil exposure, soak your irritated skin in cold milk or yogurt.
If you’re a lover of spicy food feel free to add additional chilies. Some Khua Kling recipes in Thailand call for over 15 birds eye chillies. We’ve cut that back in half so the dish doesn’t make us tear up at the table.
You can also increase the heat of the dish by adding the chili seeds into the stir fry rather than disposing of them. If you have a low tolerance for spicy food we still suggest adding peppers as they offer an important flavour profile to the dish. Simply remove all of seeds to ensure the spice level is to your pallet’s preference.
The dish is traditionally prepared with palm sugar in Thailand but we’ve suggest brown sugar as it’s more readily available in North American grocery stores. If you love fishy flavours, feel free to add a teaspoon of Thai shrimp paste to the stir-fry.
What To Serve with Khua Kling
This popular dry mince curry from Thailand is typically enjoyed as a main course alongside other entrees like Thai Beef and Pumpkin Curry, Thai Red Prawn Curry and Pad Kra Pao.
It keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days so store it in an airtight container and enjoy leftovers as a quick and easy lunch at work.
If you’re hosting a large dinner party, pair homemade Khua Kling with steamed rice, stir fried noodles or papaya salad.
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Best Khua Kling Thai Mince Curry Recipe
Thai Beef Mince Curry Khua Kling
- French knife
- Wooden spoon
- measuring spoons
- measuring cups
- 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
- 250 g Minced Pork
- 250 g Minced Beef
- 3 tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste
- 5 Thai red chilies deseeded and finely sliced
- 1 Lemongrass stock finely sliced
- 2 tbsp Fish Sauce
- 2 tsp Brown Sugar
- 6 Kaffir Lime Leaves finely sliced
- 1/2 cup Beef stock
- Heat the wok over medium high heat. Add vegetable oil and minced pork and beef. Cook 3-5 minutes then add red curry paste, lemongrass, red chili, fish sauce and sugar. Mix well.
- Lower the heat to medium, add beef stock and cook until minced meat is tender and dry.
- Turn off the heat and add Kaffir lime leaves and mix well.
- Serve Thai Beef Mince Curry Khua Kling with fresh vegetables like cucumber, lettuce, long beans and Jasmine rice.
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Quick & Easy Khua Kling Spicy Thai Dry Mince Pork & Beef Curry