Burmese Chicken Curry | Kye Thar Hin

Kye Thar Hin, according to my Curry recipe book is a curry that is very popular all over the Myanmar region. Although it is an authentic Burmese chicken curry, it is not made with coconut milk or yoghurt, but with tomatoes.

Nothing can describe the excitement I felt this morning when I saw an email in my inbox titled Congratulations! I have made it through to Round 2 of Project Food Blog. The theme for this challenge is The Classics. The prompt from the judges: Ready to tackle a classic dish from another culture? Pick an ethnic classic that is outside your comfort zone or are not as familiar with. You should include how you arrived at this decision in your post. Do your research then try to pull off successfully creating this challenge. Try to keep the dish as authentic as the real deal, and document your experience through a compelling post.

The dish I am entering for round 2 is a Burmese Chicken Curry. I had already set myself a task to cook one recipe from each region represented in my Curry recipe book. The next region on my list that I had to tackle was Myanmar. Now, coming from South Africa, this is a cuisine I have never experienced before. South African heritage is rich in curries – the Durban curry which comes from the Indians that settled there to work in the sugar cane fields, and the Cape Malay curry – a completely different blend of tastes and flavours. However, my heritage is European. My family come from Germany, Austria and Romania and curries were not a regular taste experience while I was growing up. If I ate a curry it was always so hot that I could not eat more than a couple of bites. As my cooking repertoire grew, I made plenty of Thai curries, but then Dave asked for an Indian curry, and I had to get myself a recipe book to learn more. This book was borrowed on a non-returnable basis, by a friend, and so, a new book had to be found. My Curry book covers all sorts of curries, and provides information on the ingredients used that are unique to each region.

There are certain basics one has to know for cooking from the Myanmar region. One of the most important is to know that the curry pastes themselves provide the essence of the flavour and taste of the curry. My first task was to make Balachaung, which is a dried shrimp relish. You will find the recipe here and if you would like a bottle of this very pungent relish, let me know! The core ingredients used in this region include lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, kaffir lime leaves, chillies, tamarind, asam gelugur, dried shrimps, shrimp paste, fish sauce, coconut, aubergine, okra, mango, candlenuts, peanuts and rice. In the Helderberg Basin where I live, we have very limited access to foods that would be found in speciality stores. I had to choose a recipe where I would be able to find the ingredients that go into it.


kye thar hin
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Kye Thar Hin – Burmese Chicken Curry

Recipe Category: Chicken
All Rights Reserved: Addapted from Curry page 176


  • 30 mls groundnut oil
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 5 mls ground turmeric
  • 15 mls ground coriander
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 stalk lemongrass cut into 2 pieces
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts each cut in half
  • 8 chicken thighs boned
  • 450 g very ripe tomatoes skinned and chopped or 400g canned chopped plum tomatoes, drained
  • 2 - 3 limes, juice only
  • 45 mls Balachaung
  • 2.5 mls cayenne pepper optional
  • 15 mls fish sauce
  • 15 mls toasted sesame oil
  • salt if needed


  • preheat the oven to 160° Celsius
  • heat the oil in a wok or large sauté pan over a high heat and when hot, stir fry the onions and garlic until the onion is cooked
  • turn the heat down and add the turmeric, ground coriander, cinnamon, cloves, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves
  • as soon as you can smell the spices, add the chicken pieces and cook until the chicken pieces are browned
  • add the tomatoes, lime juice, balachaung, cayenne pepper and fish sauce and stir in
  • cover the pan and simmer over a medium heat for 3 minutes
  • stir in 4 tablespoons hot water and the sesame oil
  • cover and cook for 20 minutes
  • using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to an ovenproof dish and bake in the oven for 20 minutes
  • reduce the sauce for about 6 minutes, until it has become thick
  • if any oil rises to the surface, skim it off
  • remove the lime leaves, cinnamon sticks and lemongrass
  • add salt to the sauce if needed
  • serve the chicken with plain boiled rice and the sauce

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