Every country has it's own curry. Japanese curry is a thick, savory gravy that is always comforting to eat. Thai curry usually has the sweet kick from coconut milk. Indian curry isn't so much one specific dish as a style of cooking. And curry powder, which I use to make Vietnamese curry, isn't really a thing in India, since the dishes are all so different. I might be a little biased, but I think Vietnamese chicken curry, or cà ri gà is the best kind of curry there is!Jump to Recipe
Vietnamese chicken curry is much thinner than Japanese or Thai curry. It tastes much closer to Japanese curry, but with a subtle sweetness from coconut milk that Thai curry has. There really is nothing better than dipping a toasty piece of bread into the rich broth!
Vietnamese Chicken Curry (Cà Ri Gà): Step-by-step instructions
Cut your chicken into large chunks, about 3 inches. Cut the potatoes and carrots into similarly sized pieces.
I recommend using bone-in chicken for this Vietnamese chicken curry. My mom usually buys a whole chicken, then she cuts it into large chunks. I bought a whole cut up chicken (a chicken that's been divided into two breasts, two thighs, two drumsticks and two wings for you already) and then cut those pieces into chunks, because it's a little easier than butchering a whole chicken. You can use just thighs or just breast if you want, but I recommend sticking to bone in, skin on no matter what you use. The bones will add some heft to the broth, and the skin will release a little fat that will color the broth beautifully.
If you're really averse to whole, bone-in chicken, you can use boneless thigh or breast. I really don't recommend boneless skinless breast thought because it will get really dry. Proceed at your own risk!
Marinate the chicken with fish sauce, shallot, garlic, salt, pepper, chile flakes, ground lemongrass and curry powder. Leave for at least 15 minutes. You can also do this the night before and leave the chicken in the fridge overnight. I use frozen ground lemongrass, but you could buy fresh lemongrass and run it through a food processor.
Vietnamese Curry Powder
The curry powder I use for cà ri gà is one that my family buys from Vietnam. You can find the yellow curry powder at any Asian grocery store. If you can't find one explicitly labeled "Vietnamese Curry Powder" or bột cà ri, you can use a madras curry powder or the S&B Chinese brand of curry powder, which is also available on Amazon.
If your chicken has been refrigerated overnight, take it out and let it come to room temp before searing in a heavy bottomed pot on high heat. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan.
You can also fry the potato and carrot chunks while you're searing the chicken as well. This step is optional, but it prevents the potatoes and carrots from falling apart in the broth and getting mushy. You don't have to cook the vegetables all the way through. Just get a good crust on the outside. Usually I skip this step unless I'm making cà ri gà for guests and I want it to look extra nice.
Add all of your seared chicken back in the pot and cover completely with water. Add a tiny bit of coconut milk in the broth. The rest will be added later
Let it come to a boil before adding the carrots. Once the carrots are almost cooked, add the potatoes. The curry is ready once the potatoes are easily pierced through by a fork. This will take longer if you didn't fry the potatoes and carrots ahead of time, so monitor your vegetables accordingly.
When the potatoes are cooked through, add the rest of the coconut milk. Then turn off the heat.
In a small pan, heat up a few tablespoons of oil. Add more curry powder and chile flakes to the oil and toast on medium low heat until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the spices or else the curry will taste bitter. Pour this oil over the top of the curry to give it color.
Vietnamese chicken curry is best served with a fluffy French or Italian bread. You want something with a nice crust, but is still fluffy and soft on the inside. The best bread to use is a Vietnamese baguette. If you're lucky enough to live by a Vietnamese bakery, snag some for this dish!
Vietnamese Chicken Curry (Cà Ri Gà)
- 1 whole chicken, about 3-4 lbs, chopped into 3 inch chunks
- 1 lb red potatoes, peeled and chopped and quartered (about 4-6 small potatoes)
- 1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped into 3 inch chunks (about 4 carrots)
- 4 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoon shallot, minced (about 1 large shallot or 2 small ones)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup ground lemongrass
- 3 tablespoon curry powder, divided
- 1 teaspoon chile flakes (optional)
- 10 cups water
- 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk, divided
- marinate chicken with fish sauce, lemongrass, shallot, garlic, salt, pepper, two tablespoons of the curry powder and chile flakes. Leave for at least 15 minutes, or overnight
- sear the chicken in a large pot on medium high heat
- OPTIONAL: fry the carrots and potatoes in a separate pot for 3-5 minutes, or enough to form a light brown crust on the outside of the vegetables. They do not need to be cooked through
- add 10 cups water and ¼ cup of the coconut milk to the chicken and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
- once chicken has boiled, add the carrots
- add the potatoes about 10 minutes after the carrots have been in the soup. Continue to simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, about 20-45 minutes depending on whether or not you fried the vegetables first
- once potatoes are cooked, turn off heat and add the rest of the coconut milk
- in a small pan or saucepan, heat up 2 tablespoon of oil on medium low heat. Add the last tablespoon of curry powder and toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes
- pour the hot curry oil over the the soup. Season with more salt or fish sauce as necessary
- serve with a Vietnamese baguette, French or Italian bread
What’s the name of the Vietnamese curry powder you use? Do you have a picture of it?
Hi Diane! The brand I use is from Vietnam, but popular brands that are readily available in the U.S. are Marhaba, Sing Kung Corp, D & D Gold Product and Anco Indian Chef. You can find photos on google!
So truly delicious! Wish I could get my spouse and kids to eat it too!
I'm glad you enjoyed it Faith!
I hate being one of those people that say they love the recipe then list all the ways they've changed it so I'll start off saying that this recipe is really yummy as per the recipe. For those that want to streamline the ingredient list ..I realised halfway into the recipe that I didn't have shallots or coconut milk. Still amazing!
Oh...I like to add coconut juice (not milk) in place of some of the water too.
I'm all for reasonable changes to recipes to fit your lifestyle and what you have in your kitchen! So glad you like the recipe 🙂
I'd constantly want to be update on new posts on this web site, saved to my bookmarks!
Great Vietnamese curry recipe! Didn't have chance to cook curry for couple years. Your recipe reminded me how to prepare it.
I made it with few modifications. I used Yukon Golden potatoes instead of red potatoes, didn't have lemon grass because it wasn't available, cooked with Mc Cormick Curry Powder. The curry dish came out very delicious; all guesses complimented and enjoyed it. Thank you for posting the recipe online.
I'm glad you enjoyed it! McCormick Curry Powder should work great. If you ever find yourself with lemongrass in stock I highly recommend trying it!
Can you please help with the searing step? How much oil and what kind? thank you!
Hi Cate! Use any oil with a high smoke point, like canola, vegetable or avocado. You can use as much as needed depending on the size of the pan you're using to sear the meat. A few tablespoons will do.
How important is ammato powder to the success of this recipe?
Annatto powder isn’t used in this recipe.
I wish there were some comments about how the recipe turned out. I just went to a very small Vietnamese restaurant I had heard good things about. I didn’t realize that it was a James Beard winner!!!! I had this soup and it was AMAZING!!! Been crazing it ever since. Would love to try to make it myself. Just get nervous spending all the money on ingredients and not knowing if it will turn out.
Hi Courtney! There are some reviews from people who have made this dish on my Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/354034685470612/posts/423687618505318/?d=n
I just finished making this curry and it is the first Vietnamese curry that I've ever cooked. It is by far the best curry I have ever tasted in my 30 years on this earth, and to think that I use to wrinkle my nose at the sound of Vietnamese curry!
I followed the directions exactly with the exception of butchering my own chicken and removing all the bones (husband has a lifelong aversion to bone-in chicken), blooming the curry powder AND Vietnamese curry *paste* directly in the pot after frying the chicken and setting it aside. I then proceeded to deglaze the pot with the 1/4 cup of coconut milk. It is seriously one of the best things I have ever tasted in terms of curry, i don't think any curry can compare to the flavours of this. The curry is so complex, but at the same time savory and offering hints of freshness, preventing thrpalate fatigue that often goes hand in hand with heavy curries.
I also used D&D Gold Brand for the curry powder and paste, I feel that it is worth the hassle to get this specific curry powder to get the taste spot on. Thank you so much for posting this recipe Suzanne!
Thank you for trying my recipe Courtney! You described Vietnamese curry so lovingly. Even better than I could have explained myself!
Heidy L. McCallum
I am so excited to try this recipe out. I have had Japanese Curry and LOVED it, but I was really looking for something special to make for my daughter in law. Terri loves Vietnamese Cuisine and I really want to surprise her. I hope she enjoys it. I'm kind of nervous! I will let you know how it comes out.
This curry looks amazing! Love how simple it is to make!
This is surely a comfort meal. I would surely enjoy it with my crusty loaf.
This looks great, thanks for the tips!
This looks like a great meal for fall. I have never tried curry, but I think I would love it. We don't have any Indian restaurants around here and I have been looking for a few dishes to make at home.