Unlike Indian or Thai curries, Vietnamese curry is more like a stew. There's not a whole lot of ingredients, just chicken, potatoes, and carrots, so the emphasis is more on the flavorful curried broth. The chicken and curry spices simmers for a while in coconut broth. It is eaten with bread, rice, or rice noodles. I prefer Vietnamese French bread best because the lighter texture doesn't overpower the curry.
Also, unlike Indian or Thai curries, Vietnamese don't really pound or create our own curry blends. My preferred brand is D&D Gold Product's Madras curry powder. It'll say ca ri ni an do (Indian curry powder) with a picture of three golden bells. The curry includes a mixture of curry, turmeric, chili, coriander, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, allspice, and salt. It should be a golden color. I've seen Madras curry powders that are more reddish, but I haven't tried those so I don't know if the taste is the same. You can find this at most Asian grocery stores.
I used a whole chicken, about 2.5 to 3 lbs., and cut it up into eight pieces. Plan on two pieces of chicken per person, so this recipe will feed four people. As with most curries, the flavor is even better the next day so if you really like curry, leftovers are great. You can easily halve the recipe for two people. If so, I prefer using a chicken thigh and drumstick piece. You'll want to cut the carrots and potatoes into rather large chunks because the curry will simmer for a while and the vegetables will fall apart otherwise. Plan on about one large potato per person, or add extra if you really like potatoes. I like to let my curry simmer for at least half an hour, if not 45 minutes. The chicken will have really flavored the broth and be almost fall-apart tender, the potatoes will release their starches and thicken the soup. I like just plain old russets, but you can use other potatoes, or even sweet potatoes if you wish. Just don't rush the simmering step or else you'll get a rather thin and lackluster curry.
Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Curry)
For four servings, you'll need:
1 2.5 to 3 lb chicken, cut into about 8 pieces
1 tsp salt
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 large onion, diced
1 2-inch knob of ginger, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
2 lemongrass stalks, bruised to release fragrance
2 tblsp Ca Ri Ni An Do (Vietnamese Indian Madras Curry Powder)
2 bay leaves
2 14-oz cans Coconut Milk
2 tsps Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
Vietnamese French bread, rice, or flat rice noodles for serving
Clean and chop chicken. Put pieces in a colander to drain and sprinkle about 1 tsp salt over the chicken. Set aside. Peel potatoes and carrots, dice, and set aside.
Dice onion, and mince garlic, shallots, and ginger. Bruise 2 lemongrass stalks to release fragrance.
In a large stock pot on high heat, drizzle a bit of oil and saute onion until just translucent. Add minced garlic, shallots, and ginger along with 1 tblsp of the Madras curry powder to release fragrance.
Move the onion and aromatics to the side of the pot and add chicken pieces, searing until brown. You might have to stack the chicken pieces on top of each other until all the chicken pieces are browned. They don't have to be cooked, the searing is to retain the juices and prevent the chicken from falling apart.
Add 1 can of coconut milk and 1 can of water. Just use the same can and swirl water around to get the last of the coconut milk. Stir and do a quick taste test. If the curry is to your liking, then add enough water until the chicken and veggies are just covered. Otherwise, if you want a more flavorful curry like I do, add 1 more tblsp of curry powder, 1 more can of coconut milk, and 1 more can of water.
Add 2 tsp fish sauce or more and season to taste.
Add lemongrass, potatoes, and carrots.
Turn heat down to medium-low and let simmer for at least half an hour to 45 minutes. The smaller diced potato will fall apart and help thicken the curry.
At about the 20 minute mark, skim any scum off the top of the curry, do a taste test and add as much fish sauce as you'd like. Serve with Vietnamese French bread, rice, or rice noodles.
Who made my recipe for ca ri ga?
WC reader Danielle said it was "tender and flavorful." She gave some to her sister and her sister's boyfriend. Danielle said, "They both raved about it! Her bf stated that this was probably one of the best curry that he has ever tasted!!"
WC reader MaryRuth said, "My house smelled so good while it was cooking! Four forks! I will definitely make this again."
Who else made ca ri ga?
Guilty Carnivore added kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass to his recipe.
Christine of Holy Basil made hers with sweet potatoes.
I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Herb Blogging, a world-wide food blogging event created by Kalyn's Kitchen celebrating herbs, vegetables, or flowers. If you'd like to participate, see who's hosting this week. WHB is hosted this week by Katie of Thyme for Cooking.
1 year ago today, Beet Borscht for the very first time.