Gaeng Khilek (Thick Curry with Siamese Senna)

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Khilek (Siamese senna) grows well in the northeast of Thailand. Its flowers and tender leaves are used to make Gaeng khilek, which is not only a family dish, but also used at wedding, funeral and Buddhist ordination ceremonies. The basic taste of the khilek is bitter, so it needs to be boiled and drained before cooking.


Gaeng khilek is a healthy dish which is good for the excretory system. Compared to other vegetables, young khilek leaves are high in beta carotene, dietary fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron, protein and carbohydrates.


500 grams Khilek leaves
100 grams cow skin, boiled or grilled and sliced into long pieces
3 cups bai yanang juice (Tiliacora Triandra)
¼ cup spring onions, cut into short pieces
4 – 5 stalks hairy basil
2 stalks lemongrass, lower portions cut into 2-inch long pieces
4 tbsp. pla-raa (pickled fish)
2 tbsp. fish sauce

Ingredients for curry paste
15 each dried or fresh chilies
10 each red shallots
7 – 8 stalks thinly sliced lemongrass
2 tsp salt


1. Pound all of the ingredients for curry paste in a mortar until a paste is formed.
2. Boil the khilek leaves for two hours, drain and squeeze well to remove bitter liquid.
3. Boil the bai yanang juice, add the khilek leaves. Stir to mix well. Add the lemongrass and cooked cow skin (can substitute cooked fish or pork). Let it come to a boil.
4. Season with the pla-ra and fish sauce. Keep boiling for a few minute. Add the spring onion and the leaves from the hairy basil stalks. Remove from the heat and serve