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Khua Kling Recipe (Thai Dry Mince Curry)

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Khua kling recipe (Thai dry mince curry) is one of my all-time favorite Southern Thai food. It’s a spicy and aromatic Southern Thai specialty that comes with a unique blend of flavorful spices and herbs.

Khua kling (Thai dry mince curry) on top of a banana leaf in a clay dish. In the background are flowers as decoration and a portion of steamed rice.

Southern Thai cuisine

Southern Thailand is the place to be for bold, spicy, and aromatic cuisine. With the sea in proximity, and so many flourishing tropical ingredients, it’s no wonder Southern Thai people have a preference for vibrant flavored curries and seafood.

Southern Thai curries are bursting with flavor – they’re packed with rich and bold flavors that are unrivaled by anything else.

Khua kling (Thai dry mince curry) on top of a banana leaf in a clay dish with a wooden spoon with a bite in it.. In the background are flowers as decoration and a portion of steamed rice.

And if you’ve ever had the chance to try the famous Thai soup “tom yam” in Southern Thailand, then you know what I’m talking about. Incredibly flavorful food with a variety of herbs and spices which add depth and flavor.

And their love for tasteful and spiced up food is exactly why they love khua kling so much. This Thai dry mince curry is beloved for its spiciness, its fragrance, and sharp taste.

Close-up of khua kling (Thai dry mince curry) in a large wok pan.

This is just one of my many Southern Thai cuisine recipes. Try Hat Yai fried chicken or the spicy kaeng som next!

What is khua kling

Khua kling is literally like a flavor explosion in your mouth.

This dry meat curry is made with minced meat or small slices of meat, Southern Thai curry paste, and several flavorful herbs and spices. And get this, there’s no oil involved in the cooking process!

Khua kling (Thai dry mince curry) on top of a banana leaf in a clay dish with a portion of white rice and flowers behind it. There is also a wooden spoon and fork to the right of the dish.

“Khua” means “to dry roast” in Thai. Dry roasting the meat allows the flavors to blend together while keeping the meat tender. In this Thai meal, the meat is dry and tender, and there’s no sauce – not even a drip.

The ingredients are dried out while constantly being tossed and stirred to prevent scorching. This binds all the ingredients with the dry curry paste and creates a unique taste that’s unlike anything you’ve tasted before.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


An overhead shot of all ingredients for khua kling on a bamboo serving tray; kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, black peppercorns, chilies, minced pork, water, white sugar, water, fish sauce, Southern Thai curry paste.
  • Pork – This Thai dry mince curry recipe can be made with any protein of your choice. You can sub the minced pork with chicken, beef, or anything you see fit.
  • Kaffir lime leaves – A key ingredient for flavoring in this curry is kaffir lime leaves. They add a bright flavor to the curry, which complements the spiciness of the curry paste. The leaves should be sliced thinly.
  • Lemongrass – Lemongrass is commonly used in Thai cuisine to add a citrus / lemon note to dishes.
  • Black peppercorns – This spice has a strong, pungent flavor and a mild heat which enhances the spiciness and overall flavor.
  • Red chilies – A staple ingredient for adding spiciness. I suggest using red Thai bird’s eye chilies, which are very spicy. If you can’t eat spicy food you can sub with a milder type of chili.
  • Southern Thai curry paste – This curry paste has a unique flavor and is made of many herbs and spices such as lemongrass and galangal.
  • Fish sauce – Fish sauce add a salty and umami flavor to the dish.
  • White sugar – The sweetness balances out the salty and spicy flavors.
  • Water

Short recipe video

Step-by-step instructions

While cooking, occasionally scrape the bottom of your pan to prevent scorching. Keep tossing and turning at high pace.

1. Add water to a wok pan or skillet over low heat and add minced pork. Cook until there is no more water and the pork is cooked through.Close-up of cooked through minced pork in a wok.

2. Add the curry paste and mix it with your protein.Close-up of curry paste mixed with minced pork in a wok.

3. Add fish sauce and white sugar, thoroughly mix with the rest of the ingredients.Kua kling in a wok with a wooden spatula.

4. Lastly, add lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, chilies, and black peppercorns. Stir-fry for 1 more minute and make sure all the ingredients are well mixed. Serve immediately.Close-up of khua kling in a wok pan.

Tips for the best dry mince curry

  • When frying the meat it will get really dry, scrape the bottom of your pan to prevent scorching and to prevent the meat from sticking to it.
  • You can easily slice kaffir lime leaves by stacking them on top of each other and rolling them up. Then just cut them into fine strips with a sharp knife.
  • Use fresh ingredients for the best flavors. Try looking at Asian grocery stores to purchase the ingredients you need.
  • Dry roast over low heat. This way, the flavors can really meld together.
  • Adjust the heat to your spice level. But remember that Southern Thai cuisine is known for its spiciness, so do add some heat to the dish.
  • Before serving, make sure to taste test and add some more seasoning if needed.
  • For a better minced meat structure, mince the meat yourself. This way, you can also choose a cut that will not release too much moisture.

How to serve

I enjoyed this Thai meal with some simple steamed rice and I loved it.

You can also choose to serve it as a side-dish with other food. When pairing with other food, you could pair it with a meal that’s not spicy or a neutral dish like this.

Tip: Serve with a side of fresh vegetables like long beans, cabbage, cucumber, or anything you see fit.

How to store

Let your leftovers cool down to room temperature and then store them in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To reheat, you can either use the microwave or quickly reheat in a wok or skillet.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

What is khua kling in English?

“Khua” means “to dry roast” in Thai, and “kling” means “rolling”. The term khua kling refers to a dry meat curry that was roasted with the “khua” technique.

Is khua kling spicy?

Yes, khua kling is a spicy Southern Thai curry. Just like most Southern Thai food, it’s spicy and incredibly aromatic due to the generous use of herbs and spices. You can make the curry less spicy by using fewer chilies or less curry paste.

More curry recipes you’ll love

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Khua Kling Recipe (Thai Dry Mince Curry)

Khua kling on a banana leaf in a clay dish, there's also a portion of white rice behind it.
Dry roasted minced meat with Southern Thai curry paste, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and more delicious ingredients.
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course
Serving Size 3 people

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 18 ounces pork minced
  • 3 tablespoons Southern Thai curry paste substitutable with Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves thin strips
  • 2 lemongrass chopped
  • 2 clusters black peppercorns
  • 3 chilies sliced, bird's eye chilies

Instructions

  • Add water to a wok pan or skillet over low heat and add minced pork. Cook until there is no more water and the pork is cooked through.
  • Add the curry paste and mix it with your protein.
  • Add fish sauce and white sugar, thoroughly mix with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Lastly, add lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, chilies, and black peppercorns. Stir-fry for 1 more minute and make sure all the ingredients are well mixed. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • This meal is cooked without oil, it's dry roasted over low heat.
  • Sub pork with any protein of your preference.
  • When frying the meat it will get really dry, scrape the bottom of your pan to prevent scorching and to prevent the meat from sticking to it.
  • Serve with a portion of white rice and optionally fresh vegetables.

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