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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Day 20: Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Curry) Redux (The Recipe)

For Danielle, since you asked. A cooking group huh? Have fun! Hey, if you take pictures and want to write up your experience making my recipe, I can post it on the blog. Just email me photos or a summary. Or, actually, I was thinking if any of my non-blogging readers would like to do the same, just let me know. Maybe it'll be a new feature? Anyone interested?

Day 20 Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Curry) 1
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.

Day 20 Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Curry) 2

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.


  1. That looks delicious! I love the flavor of curry!

  2. It looks and sounds delicious. I love the idea of cutting one potato smaller to thicken...Why didn't I think of that!

  3. Ca ri ga and french bread... soooo good!

  4. It sounds delicious (like all your recipes do!) I will look for this type of curry powder. I don't eat potatoes too often, but this is something I'd make with sweet potatoes for sure.

  5. Thanks so much for posting the recipe on request...even though you are supposed to be taking a break :) I will try this out with my cooking group on Tuesday, and will let you know how it turns out! I always love trying out your recipes, so I am excited to try this out. Btw, my family and friends absolutely love both your banana and mango bread!! Danielle

  6. Jessy,
    Thanks! I love all the different kinds of curry.

    Thanks. I just stumbled upon the smaller diced potato by accident when it fell apart in previous attempts. :)

    Yes indeed!

    I hope you like it!

    Ha! Yeah, you better make it since you asked me to post the recipe. ;) I'm glad you liked my banana and mango bread recipes. Let me know if you make anything else!

  7. Mmmm. This is exactly the kind of curry I like best, and I'm very happy to know how to make it. I very much love how the soft potatoes blend with the wonderful broth.

  8. Laurie,
    I hope you can find the curry in Alaska!

  9. My mom puts yams in her curry too. Mmm...hungry and it's not even 8am!

  10. Jeannie,
    Now I wish I had so I'd have some color. But that's what the carrots are for.

  11. This is one of my husband's favorite foods. He orders it every time we hit our favorite Vietnamese restaurant in SF. In February I had tried recreating it at home, with just mediocre results. Last night I tried again, this time using your recipe, and in particular, the brand of curry you recommended. It was a hit! Now we don't have to drive an hour and fight for parking when the craving hits--thank you!

  12. Hi Donna,
    So glad you tried the recipe and it turned out well. Yay!

  13. My local Vietnamese restaurant has similar ingredients with the addition of eggplant. It is my favorite part of the soup.

  14. David,
    Eggplant?! I've never heard of that in ca ri ga before. Hmm.

  15. Thank you for this wonderful recipe! I looked all over the internet for the perfect Ca Ri Ga since it is one of my favorite dishes from my childhood and I especially loved my mom's version. So here I am tonight, cooking this for the very first time and it tastes perfect...just like my momma's cooking!!! I am so delighted that I came across your blog and I will certainly be following your other recipes!

  16. Tran,
    Thanks for trying my recipe. So glad it turned out well for you. I'm making ca ri ga right now. :P

  17. This was one of the first dishes I learned to make when I got married. It's so good!!!! The only question I have is how to reheat it. My MIL told me to add the coconut milk at the very end and i'm assuming this is done so that it doesn't break down. should i be worried about this when i'm reheating it? or is it just for boiling temperature?

  18. I absolutely love making this ca ri! My boyfriend doesn't really eat Vietnamese food, but this recipe has definitely introduced him to a new palate! Will tell everyone!

  19. Jin,
    It's so easy to make. I've never had any problems reheating. Yeah, just don't have the temperature too high and you should be fine.

    Fan of Phan,
    *Gasp!* Not eat Vietnamese food! That's so wrong.

  20. I boil the potatoes and carrots first because they take longer to cook. If you do the chicken at the same time your chicken will fall apart before the patatoes and carrots cook. Also I used about 4 tbspoon of fish sauce and some salt too.

  21. Khoi,
    As you can see in the photo, my chicken did not fall apart. Carrots and potatoes don't take that long to cook. Neither does meat. They should all be done around the same time. Four tablespoons of fish sauce and salt?! Egads! I hope you're cooking for an army because that much in a 5-quart stock pot is a heckuva lot of sodium.

  22. yumm!!! I made this tonight. I added sugar because I wanted it to be a little sweet.

  23. I've been making this recipe for about 8 years now. It's my favorite comfort food! I learned to make it for my fiance when we first started dating because he's Vietnamese and I wanted to make something that he'd love. I do things slightly differently, as we make do with what's at home. I use 4 chicken breasts, no shallot, 3 cans of coconut milk with 2 cans of water (I love this broth!), and about half a cup of fish sauce. Two years ago my fiance found MSG at our local Asian market so now he adds in a tablespoon of that as well. I also tend to add a little extra curry powder. I didn't make the changes until about 4 years ago, as I was too nervous and didn't want to ruin a perfect recipe. This is the kind of recipe you teach your kids, and it'll be with us for life!


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