Burmese chicken curry (gaeng gai bama)

    50 min

    This is actually a northern Thai dish with a definite Burmese influence. I first ate it in a Burmese restaurant in Melbourne, Australia. I asked for the recipe and of course I didn't get it. I later experimented with some Thai recipes and came up with this final result. We really love this with steamed jasmine rice. It's quite a hot and spicy dish, so if you want it a bit mild, check the curry paste you use first.

    100 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 8 shallots, thinly sliced
    • 450g skinless, boneless chicken, cut into large pieces
    • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
    • 1 tablespoon curry powder
    • 125ml coconut milk
    • 4 tablespoons tomato puree
    • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
    • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
    • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
    • 1 bunch coriander, chopped

    Prep:20min  ›  Cook:30min  ›  Ready in:50min 

    1. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium frying pan over low heat, and stir fry the shallots until browned and tender. Drain, reserving the oil, and set aside.
    2. Place the chicken in the pan with the reserved oil, and stir in the curry paste and curry powder to evenly coat. Pour in enough water to cover, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover pan, and simmer until the chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.
    3. Stir the coconut milk, tomato puree, fish sauce, palm sugar and 1/2 the tomato wedges into the pan. Cook and stir over low heat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Mix in the remaining tomatoes, and continue cooking until tender. Top with coriander and the fried shallots to serve.

    Cook's note

    You can replace coconut milk with evaporated milk, but traditionally, coconut milk is a must.

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    Reviews in English (82)


    This is really good, though quite spicy. It all depends on the red curry paste you get, though. When I made it, my roommates and I had to eat slowly, drink water, and use a lot of rice. :0) In any case, definitely a good recipe. I replaced the palm sugar with brown sugar, the fish sauce with salt, and used a can of diced tomatoes for all the tomatoes in the recipe. Truthfully, the Shallots and Cilantro are garnish. If on a tight budget, eliminate them.  -  14 Oct 2002  (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)


    Very tasty! My husband is Burmese (born and raised in Rangoon/Yangon). He agreed with the description Michelle gave to the dish. It really is a Thai dish, not a Burmese one. However, since it has a Burmese influence, I thought I'd cook it up and see if it met with his approval. I substituted the coconut milk for reduced fat coconut milk. It worked perfectly and he loved the dish. He suggested that more fish sauce should be added (about 1 Tbsp. more) to give it a more authentic Burmese influence. Thanks!  -  01 Feb 2004  (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)


    Everyone I cook this for always loves this recipe. A few tips. It is easy to overcook the chicken - keep an eye on it. I like to add additional vegetables sometimes (carrots, zucchini and straw mushrooms). I keep half the tomatoes fresh (uncooked) and use them to garnish the dish with the cilantro and shallots (see picture). Make sure that when you cook the shallots you cook them well, they are best when they are definitely brown and definitely crispy. Finally, red curry paste varies widely in how hot it is. Be careful the first time you use a new bottle - it is easy to add more as you go (doesn't have to all be added at the beginning). Frequently I find that there is too much liquid, just dump some off. The ratios of liquids are not that important and I frequently just add in the whole can of coconut milk. The liquid is great with the rice, so don't stress about how much liquid you have, just make sure the flavor is right. Great recipe! A nice dish for the winter because of the nice cheery colors and the spice.  -  04 Jan 2008  (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)