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Friday, December 12, 2008

Ca Ri Ni An Do (Vietnamese Madras Indian Curry Powder)

Vietnamese Curry Powder

I know there's some Indian influence on Vietnamese cuisine, but don't really know enough about when or how that came about. Does anyone out there know? Does it go back as far as when Buddhism came to Vietnam? Because I know several Vietnamese who are also part Indian, so there must be some more recent history?

Unlike Indian or Thai curries, in which I try to make my own curry paste, I only know one Vietnamese curry recipe - Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Curry). And I only know one type of curry powder - Ca Ri Ni An Do (Vietnamese Indian Curry). In English, it's labeled as Madras Curry Powder, which hails from Southern India.

My preferred brand is D&D Gold Product's Madras curry powder, with a picture of three golden bells. The Sunlee brand with the happy Buddha is also good too. 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.

Wait, I know I've had Vietnamese goat curry, but for the life of me, I can't remember the taste. Will have to find some again and see if it's still this curry powder in taste or something else. But for now, the Vietnamese chicken curry is my one curry recipe, and this jar is my one curry powder.

Recipes that include Vietnamese Madras Indian curry powder:
Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)
Bo Nuong La Lot (Vietnamese Grilled Beef with Wild Betel Leaves)
Bo Nuong La Nho (Vietnamese Grilled Beef with Grape Leaves)
Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Curry)
Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Curry) Pot Pie

1 year ago today, Fried rice with Kimchee and Spam.


  1. I use the same brand of curry powder!! Funny story: my mom does not like Indian food because she dislikes cumin. But Viet curry powder lists cumin in the mix, and she loves it!

    As for Indians coming to VN, I would assume they were merchant class, like the Chinese? My mom grew up with Indians in her neighbourhood!

  2. Mmmm...Vietnamese chicken curry is my ultimate comfort food =)

    My mom is from Vietnam and she also knew an Indian family in her neighborhood when she was a child.

  3. I use a brand - name escapes me - in a small tin, red label, with a lid that you almost need a flathead screwdriver to remove. It's yellowish...lotsa turmeric.

    Mom used it as well.

  4. Thais use madras curry occasionally. Satay is the first thing that comes to mind. Mom said it was introduced by the Muslims, but it could just as well have come from the Buddhists.

  5. Miss.Adventure,
    Another coincidence! Is it a Central thing? ;)

    I thought Indians in Vietnam were unusual, but that's two people. Curiouser and curiouser.

    I'll have to keep my eye out for your tin. I wonder how it tastes?

    The curry powder definitely came to VN from the Buddhists. We don't have too many Muslims.

  6. I've seen Lee Kum Kee's "Portuguese" Sauce, which looks like the same yellow curry for ca ri ga. Is that the same?

  7. Twinkle,
    I've never seen that LKK sauce. I know Portuguese pork chops have curry, but I have no idea if it tastes the same or not.

  8. There are Cham people who are muslims in VN, and they still live along the VN/Khmer border. That maybe a source of the influence too.

  9. Victoria,
    Do Chams eat curry? I know nothing about Cham cuisine!

  10. A Canadian chef based in Vietnam has a story to tell on his site zester daily. The Tamil chettiar traders as well as the moslim traders were the source of the recipe. Even today the Mariamman temple and Tamil mosque in Ho chi minh city is the legacy of their contribution to the cultural landscape.
    arni narendran Mumbai India

  11. Arni,
    I've heard that some Indian merchants came to Vietnam in the early 1900s. I knew about the Indian temple and mosque in Saigon. Fascinating history, isn't it? I wish I knew more.

  12. I just went today to markets in Westminster and was not able to find it. Have you been able to find it recently? Thanks for any info...

  13. 3dgal,
    You know, the current jar I have isn't with the three bells, but has an elephant I think? I'm not home right now to check. But as long as it says Ca Ri Ni An Do or Madras curry powder, I think you're OK.

    I recently made Vietnamese chicken curry with Thai yellow curry paste and it turned out pretty good, so as long as the recipe is fine, I think it's fine?


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