Gaeng bpa is one of only a few Thai curries that contain no coconut cream; it owes its signature flavour to the perfume of makrut lime leaves and hoary (lemon) basil.






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  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp Jungle curry paste (below)
  • 300 g (10½ oz) pork spare ribs
  • 100 ml (3½ fl oz) fish sauce
  • 1.2 litres (1.2 quarts) pork stock
  • 2 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 10 Thai or round eggplants (aubergines), cut into sixths and placed in salted water
  • 100 g (3½ oz) pea eggplants (aubergines)
  • 2 long red chillies, sliced on the diagonal, plus extra if necessary
  • 1 tbsp fresh green peppercorns
  • 1 whole small ginger root, julienned
  • 5 makrut lime leaves, torn
  • 30 g (1 oz/1 cup loosely packed) hoary (lemon) basil leaves
  • steamed jasmine rice, to serve

Jungle curry paste (see Note)

  • 10 dried red chillies, deseeded, soaked in cold water until soft, then drained
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 whole small galangal root, cut into
  • 5 pieces
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 small red shallots
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp gapi (fermented shrimp paste)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


  1. First, make the curry paste. Place the chillies and salt in a mortar and pestle and pound into a paste. Add the galangal, lemongrass, shallots and garlic, pounding until smooth after each addition. Finally, add the gapi and pound and stir the mixture until you have a smooth, uniform paste.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Fry the curry paste until golden and fragrant, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning. Add the pork ribs and stir-fry until browned all over and cooked through, then add the fish sauce to deglaze the pan, scraping up anything that has stuck to the bottom.
  3. Pour the stock over the pork ribs and bring to the boil, then add the sugar. Drain the Thai eggplants and add them to the saucepan, along with the pea eggplants. Simmer for 3–5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Stir through the remaining ingredients except the rice, remove from the heat and check for seasoning; the curry should have a balance of spicy and salty flavours. Adjust the seasoning with extra chillies or fish sauce if necessary. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.



This recipe will make more paste than needed for the curry. The remainder can be stored in a jar in the fridge for 2-3 days.


Recipe and images from Bangkok Local by Sareen Rojanametin and Jean Thamthanakorn, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99