A few weeks ago I went to this restaurant called Burma Love for the first time. It’s this really popular Burmese place in the Mission district of San Francisco, and I gotta say I can’t believe I haven’t tried it til now. Burmese food is some of the most exciting, best tasting stuff I’ve ever had! That dinner inspired me to create this Burmese chicken curry recipe. It not only tastes amazing, but it takes 30 minutes to make! Hello can anyone say weeknight dinner?
The influences of Burmese food
After I had that amazing food, I went home and did some research on Burmese cuisine. I learned that Burma was located in what is now Myanmar. Some of the dishes you can find in Burmese cuisine are curries, mohinga (a traditional breakfast dish), noodle dishes, and its signature tea salads. Its cuisine is heavily influenced by the cuisine of its neighboring countries: China, Thailand, and India. I strongly believe that it’s varied influences is what make Burmese food taste so special.
Creating my chicken curry recipe
I knew that the only way to create a curry that truly celebrates Burmese cuisine was to draw from all the different cultures that influence the cuisine. The first step was to create a paste. I combined 1 shallot, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, garam masala, and vegetable oil in a food processor. Fish sauce from Thai culture. Garam masala from Indian culture. Ginger from Southeast Asian cuisine in general. All together this resulted in a thick light brown paste for my curry.
Why I used shrimp paste and coconut sugar
The next step to creating this chicken curry recipe is to add the paste to a nonstick pan and saute it with shrimp paste and coconut sugar. A lot of Burmese dishes use some type of seafood paste such as fish paste and shrimp paste. I chose to use shrimp paste because that’s what I had on hand leftover from my Bun Thang recipe. The shrimp paste has a strong salty, ocean flavor that seasons the curry. I included a link to my favorite shrimp paste below. Lee Kum Kee makes the best shrimp paste.
To balance out the saltiness from all these flavors, I added 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar. Also known as palm sugar, coconut sugar is a new discovery of mine! It’s a healthier alternative to brown sugar made from coconut palm sap. What makes it healthier than regular sugar is that it still retains some of the nutrients normally stripped away from processed sugar. Nutrients such as iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium. You can substitute in brown sugar but use less since coconut sugar is not that sweet.
Finishing off the chicken curry
To finish it off, I added coconut milk and water to give it that thick sauce. Eat it with rice and cilantro for garnish. You can use jasmine rice or basmati rice for this dish. Bon apetit!
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If you made this dish, I would love to see!
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Burmese Chicken Curry
- Combine the lemongrass, ginger, fish sauce, garam masala, shallot, garlic, and vegetable oil in a food processor. Pulse until a thick paste forms (3 minutes). Set aside.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Add the paste to a nonstick pan and cook for 20 seconds until it smells fragrant. Then add in the coconut sugar, shrimp paste, and chicken. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the chicken is brown on all sides. Finally, add in the coconut milk and water and bring it to a boil.
- Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes until the liquid thickens.
- Serve with rice and cilantro for garnish.