Burmese Chicken Curry

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 1 hr
Serves: 6

Slow cooking is the secret to this aromatic curry infused with ground turmeric, garam masala and fish sauce. Burmese food isn’t technically Burmese any more – the country changed its name to Myanmar.


1 cup (250 mL) brown rice, short grain, dry
1 cup (250 mL) onion, diced
2 garlic, cloves, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) ginger, fresh, grated
3 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, medium (about 800 g)
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
1 tsp (5 mL) turmeric, ground
1/4 tsp (1.25 mL) cayenne pepper
1 tsp (5 mL) cumin, ground
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) coriander seeds, ground
1 1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) garam masala
1 stick cinnamon, whole, dry
3 curry leaves, dry (substitute one bay leaf)
3 cups (750 mL) chicken broth, low sodium, ready-to-serve
2/3 cup (170 mL) lentils, red, dry
12.8 fl oz (355 mL) coconut milk, light, canned (1 can)
1 tbsp (15 mL) fish sauce, ready-to-serve
1/4 tsp (1.25 mL) salt
1/4 cup (60 mL) cilantro, fresh, chopped 60 mL (optional garnish)


1 Cook brown rice in unsalted water according to manufacturer's directions.
2 Dice the onions and mince the garlic and ginger. Set aside.
3 Cut chicken into 1 inch (2.5 cm) bite-size pieces. Set aside.
4 Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Stir in the turmeric and cook for one minute. 5. Add the minced garlic, grated fresh ginger, cayenne, cumin, coriander seeds and garam masala. You can substitute ground coriander for the whole seed but the flavour is better with the whole coriander seed. Stir and saute the mixture about 1 minute.
5 Add chicken to the pot and stir to coat with the onions and spices. Add the cinnamon stick (snapped half), followed by the curry leaves (or bay leaf) and chicken broth. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.
6 Stir in dried red lentils and coconut milk. Cover and simmer for an additional 30 minutes until lentils are dissolved and sauce is smooth. Stir occasionally.
7 Stir in the fish sauce and salt. Serve over cooked brown rice and garnish with fresh cilantro (optional garnish).