Burmese chicken & lime curry


I made this totally scrumptious and unusual curry in anticipation of our trip to Burma, but couldn’t post it until we got back! Once again, its pretty easy (the only fiddle is making the balachaung, the Burmese dried shrimp paste in the picture) but it’s hot! So I served it with pomelo salad, steamed baby pak choi and red rice.

Burmese chicken and lime curry

2 tbsp coconut oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh or dried turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 cinnamon sticks
4-6 cloves
1 stalk lemon grass, bashed and cut in half
4-6 kaffir lime leaves
4 chicken breast or mix of breast and thighs, off the bone
1 tin chopped tomatoes
juice 2-3 lines
3 tbsp Balachaung
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional) or chilli pepper
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
salt to taste

Balachaung (this makes enough for two servings of curry ie for 8 people)
8 oz dried shrimps, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained
3 tbsp groundnut oil
4 shallots
4 garlic cloves
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2-4 red chillies, deseeded and chopped
2 tsp finely chopped root ginger
1/2 fresh or dried turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
juice of 1 lime or lemon

First make the Balachaung paste:
Finely chop drained shrimps and pound them in a pestle and mortar or whizz in a small blender. Set aside.

Heat oil in a wok or frying pan and fry garlic and shallots for 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.

Add sesame oil to the wok, heat, add chillies, ginger, turmeric and salt. Fry, stirring all the time.

Put in the ground shrimps and stir fry for 1 minute. Now add 2 tbsp hot water and lime/lemon juice. Stir until liquid completely absorbed. Mix in reserved garlic/shallot mixture. The relish should be moist, not dry. You can store it in an airtight jar/container in the fridge if you don’t use it all.

Next, stir fry onions and garlic in a wok or saucepan over a high heat. Add the turmeric, ground coriander, cinnamon, cloves, lemon grass, lime leaves and chicken pieces. Stir fry for 6-8 minutes until chicken is browned.

Add the tomatoes, lime juice and Balachaung, cayenne pepper if using, and fish sauce. Stir well and cover for 3 minutes. Uncover add 4 tbsp of hot water and sesame oil. Cover again and simmer gently until chicken is cooked. If there’s too much liquid, uncover and cook at high heat so it evaporates sand leaves a thick curry sauce. Check seasoning, it might be salty. Take out cinnamon stick and lemongrass stalk before serving.

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