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Khmer Curry

Cambodian Chicken Red Curry, known as Somlar Kari Saek Mouan or sometimes Khmer Red Curry, is a rich, flavorful curry made with coconut milk, chicken, eggplant, green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and a wonderful red curry paste called kroeung. It’s similar to Thai red curry, but not as spicy.

We love to travel and always come home inspired by new dishes that we like to attempt to recreate. Some other recipes inspired by our travels include Thai Coconut Mango Sticky RiceBaked Greek Feta Fries, and Authentic French Fruit Tart.

When our girls were 4 and 1 ½, we took them to Thailand and Cambodia for a couple of weeks. It was the first time we had ever traveled with them out of the country and they did amazing.

It was an epic, unforgettable trip where we explored crumbling temple ruins only partly reclaimed from jungles, fed, bathed, and rode elephants through the mountains of Thailand, and island hopped on a longtail boat in the Andaman Sea. We will never forget those experiences and adventures with our girls while they were so young and hope to take them back again someday.

One of the foods we enjoyed while we were in Cambodia was this amazing chicken red curry that we ate for lunch after spending a morning exploring the haunting and beautiful Angkor Wat.

Cambodian food isn’t nearly as well known as Thai food. It seems like there are Thai restaurants all over the place, but I don’t know that I have ever seen a Cambodian restaurant.

So I was excited when I was challenged to recreate a traditional Cambodian dish as part of this month’s Eat the World Challenge hosted by Culture Eatz.

I researched like crazy to try and figure out just how to make an authentic Khmer red curry at home and still be able to share a recipe with you that wouldn’t be out of reach for the average American home cook. Fortunately, I had some experience with some of the unusual ingredients thanks to a couple of cooking classes I took while in Thailand.

Similar to Thai cooking, Cambodian cuisine typically has a balance of salty, sour, sweet and bitter flavors in every meal. Cambodia and Thailand have a complicated history with borders being fought over for centuries. Because of that, their cuisines bear a lot of similarities, with strong Chinese and Vietnamese influences as well given their proximity to southern China and Vietnam, as well as French influences because of their presence in much of Southeast Asia in the 1800’s. 

The biggest difference that I notice, though, is that Cambodian dishes tend to be far less spicy than their Thai counterparts. Which made it a wonderful introduction for our girls, who loved the rich, flavorful curries and noodles and rice dishes that weren’t too spicy at all.

Traditionally, Cambodian chicken red curry is served with French bread, but you can also serve it with noodles or rice, like we did here. It’s a thin curry, closer to a soup than anything else, although it’s loaded with meat, potatoes, and veggies that area chopped into large bites and cooked in the savory broth. The French bread is used for sopping up juices.

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