Tom Kha Gai – Thai Coconut Soup (ต้มข่าไก่)


Tom Kha Gai (ต้มข่าไก่) is commonly known as Thai coconut soup with chicken. It is a very popular Thai soup next to Tom Yum Gung which I have dealt with in a recent post. In comparison to Tom Yum however, Tom Kha is a milder and generally less spicy soup. Thus, this dish is suitable for everyone who likes an exotic soup that is not too hot. However, of course you may spice your Tom Kha up as to taste 😉

Tom Kha Gai

Tom Kha Gai Soup (photo credit:

Tom Kha Gai Soup (photo credit:

Literally translated Tom Kha Gai means ‘chicken galangal soup’. This soup occurs in Thai and Lao cuisine and the main ingredients are coconut milk, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and Thai chilli peppers. Further ingredients are chicken, mushrooms, coriander (cilantro), fish sauce and lime juice. Alternatively, you may also prepare this soup in a vegetarian style by only using mushrooms (tom kha het, ต้มข่าเห็ด) or tofu (tom kha taohu, ต้มข่าเต้าหู้). Further variations of this dish are Tom Kha with seafood (tom kha thale, ต้มข่าทะเล) and with pork (tom kha mu, ต้มข่าหมู).

Here is what you need for a great bowl of this fabulous soup:

  • 170 grams of chicken breast (or tofu/shrimp)
  • 1 green onion
  • 3-4 thin sliced galangal
  • 2-4 kaffir lime leaves (or lemon leaves)
  • 1 lemongrass stalk (or a little less)
  • 1.5 cups coconut milk
  • 1.5 cups chicken/veggie stock (or water)
  • 1/2 cup mushroom (any kind!)
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup lemon or lime juice
  • 3.5 TSP sugar (or 1/4 the amount of honey)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1-4 fresh or dried chilies
  • 1-2 TSP chili oil


In a first step cube the chicken breast and thinly slice the green onion and galangal. Then chop the kaffir lime leaves and the cilantro leaves, stems and bottoms separately. Cut the mushrooms however you like.

In the next step put the kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and  half of the green onion in simmering or lightly boiling chicken stock for about 6 minutes. Then add cilantro bottoms (leaf and mostly stems), chicken cubes, fish sauce and sugar. Let it boil for 5-6 minutes and ensure that the chicken is fully cooked.

Then add coconut milk, mushrooms and any other additional veggies. Bring back to medium heat until the soup is boiling 5-6 minutes. In serving the dish prepare lime, chili oil, the other half of the green onion, most of the cilantro, and chilies. Garnish the soup with the remaining cilantro and you’re ready to serve!

The following video will demonstrate you how to prepare Tom Kha Gai!

Hope you’ll give this dish a try! Have a delicious meal 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

(P.S. Please check out my Thai Food Dictionary for more general information)


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