This homemade Burmese Dal Chicken recipe is our favourite curry from Myanmar to cook at home.
The flavourful curry features tender chicken thighs and split peas cooked in a flavourful sauce featuring garlic, ginger, onions and spices.
Dal Chicken Curry is served as a main course entree in restaurants from Yangon to Mandalay with steamed rice or noodles.
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What Is Burmese Dal Chicken Curry?
Burmese Dal Chicken Curry is a beloved dish from Myanmar, which is known for its unique blend of Indian, Thai, and Chinese influences.
The dish features tender chicken thighs cooked in a fragrant curry sauce with lentils and spices. It’s a comforting and nourishing meal that is easy to make at home.
Dal Chicken is a classic example of how Burmese cuisine has evolved over time, incorporating local ingredients and cooking methods with those brought over by traders and migrants.
The hearty stew is flavoured with exotic ingredients like garam masala, spicy chili, zesty ginger, funky fish sauce and bright yellow turmeric.
Travel to Myanmar by Cooking Dal Chicken at Home
I love traveling through Asia.
Burmese curry refers to a diverse array of dishes in Burmese cuisine that consist of protein or vegetables simmered or stewed in an curry base of aromatics.
Burmese curries generally differ from other Southeast Asian curries in that Burmese curries make use of dried spices in addition to fresh herbs and aromatics, and are often milder and not as spicy.
Burmese curries may also be paired with flatbreads like naan, a tradition clearly influenced by its neighbours Bangladesh and India.
I first tasted authentic Dal Chicken at a restaurant in Inle Lake in northern Myanmar. I quickly fell in love with the mouth-watering curry sauce and now love to serve the dish to friends looking for a protein-packed meal.
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- Things To Do on Myanmar’s Inle Lake
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- The Savoy Hotel Offers an Oasis in the Heart of Yangon
- Sule Shangri-La Hotel in Yangon
Where To Eat Burmese Dal Chicken
Haven’t traveled to Myanmar before? It may be helpful to first sample Dal Chicken Curry at a local restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can assess the ideal spicy heat level of the curry sauce, the perfect chicken to dal ratio and what complimentary dishes to serve at the table.
Our authentic Dal Chicken recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Peas are loaded with A, B-1, B-6, C, and a supersized serving of osteoporosis-fighting K. One cup of boiled green peas has 46% of your RDA of vitamin K-1, known for maintaining bone health and helping blood to clot to prevent bleeding. Peas are high in fibre and low in fat and contain no cholesterol.
Chicken is high in protein and provides B vitamins such as niacin, which helps your body access the energy in foods.
Paprika is rich in vitamin A, capsaicin, and carotenoid antioxidants. These substances may help prevent inflammation and improve your cholesterol, eye health and blood sugar levels.
It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.
Ginger contains at least 14 phytochemicals, many of which have impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also has a good source of copper, which supports your bones, blood and nervous system.
Chili has been proven to help reduce the duration of sickness, prevent heart disease, and promote weight loss.
Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
A rich source of phytochemicals and vitamin C, limes help boost your immune system and neutralize free radicals that cause disease and skin aging. Lemons also protect against heart disease and help improve blood flow to the brain.
A good source of bone-strengthening vitamin K, cilantro is also rich in antioxidants that help protect the eyes from damage by free radicals.
The star component of turmeric is curcumin, a potent phytochemical that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is often prescribed in Indian Ayurvedic medicine to help relieve arthritis, aid digestion and inhibit the growth of cancers.
Types of Curry
In Southeast Asia, curry refers both to dishes that are made with various types of curry paste and to the pastes themselves. A wet curry is made from curry paste, coconut milk, meat, seafood, vegetables and herbs.
Vietnam also has a penchant for curry, which is best expressed by comfort food bowls of steaming Ca Ri Ga.
A curry base of fresh onions, shallots, garlic, chilis, ginger, and turmeric is typically used to prepare authentic Burmese curries. Dried spices such as paprika, chili powder, and spice mixes like garam masala can also be found in the ingredient list for many Burmese curries.
Myanmar’s geographic location, between India and Thailand, has influenced traditional Burmese recipes for hundreds of years. Celebrated cooks in Yangon take the finest flavours from aromatic India to fragrant Thailand and make a unique culinary impression on our taste buds.
The most common variety is called sibyan (meaning “oil returns”), which is typified by a layer of oil that separates from the gravy and meat after being cooked. The name itself refers to the cooking technique that is used.
In sibyan, the curry ingredients are simmered in a combination of water and oil until the water has completely boiled off, leaving a layer of oil that separates and rises to the top, which enables the raw and potent curry paste ingredients to properly blend and become milder in taste.
Important to note that the Burmese language does not actually have a unique word to represent “curry;” the closest approximation is the word hin, which is used to describe protein-based dishes eaten with rice. Burmese curries can be generally categorized by cooking technique, used ingredients, or region.
Dal Chicken Curry Recipe Cooking Tips
This homemade Dal Chicken recipe is quick and easy to make at home. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:
- We suggest preparing Dal Chicken in a large pot or Dutch Oven that has a firm fitting lid to avoid splatter on your stove when cooking.
- We suggest using skinless, boneless chicken thighs for this recipe as the brown meat is most flavourful and becomes juicy and tender when cooked. We do not suggest using breast meat as it has a lower fat content and dries out easily.
- We’ve used yellow split peas in this recipe but you can use lentils or chickpeas as a substitute.
- We’ve used Thai long green chilies in this recipe but you can substitue for serrano chile or jalapeno pepper.
- We’ve used canola oil in this recipe but you can substitue with another flavourless vegetable oil like avocado oil.
- We’ve used red onions in this recipe but you can substitute for white onions, Spanish cooking onions or sweet Vidalia onions.
- Add additional crunch to your curry by sprinkling steaming bowls of Dal Chicken with crispy fried shallots, which you can buy at an Asian market or easily make at home.
What To Serve with Burmese Dal Chicken
If you’re feeling adventurous, try serving the curry with Burmese-style pickled tea leaves or fermented soybeans, which add a tangy and flavourful twist to the dish.
If you’re planning the menu for an authentic Burmese feast you may also like to serve Shan Noodles, Fermented Tea Leaf Salad, Tomato Salad, Chickpea Tofu, Mohinga, Gaeng Hung Lay Burmese Pork Belly Curry, Burmese Khow Suey Pork Coconut Noodle Soup, and Creamy Coconut Burmese Chicken Curry.
If you’re hosting a large Southeast Asian-inspired dinner party, we suggest serving some of these yummy homemade recipes:
- Laos Papaya Salad Tum Mak Hoong
- Bun Cha Vietnamese Noodle Bowl
- Vietnamese Grilled Pork “Bun Thit Nuong”
- Vietnamese Crepe Bánh Xèo
- Crispy Thai Prawn Omelette
- Thai Glass Noodle Stir Fry Pad Woon Sen
- Stir-Fried Garlic Basil Thai Eggplant
- Yum Woon Sen Thai Glass Noodle Salad
- Khao Pad Sapparod Thai Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice
- Thai Pork Rib Soup with Vermicelli Noodles
- Egg Tofu Soup with Pork Meatballs
- Gai Pad Med Mamuang Thai Cashew Chicken
- Nam Tok Authentic Thai “Waterfall Beef” Salad
Dal Chicken keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days so store it in an airtight container. It also freezes well and can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
You May Also Enjoy These Curry Recipes…
- Ca Ri Ga Vietnamese Chicken Curry
- Creamy Red Thai Pork Curry
- Filipino Spicy Coconut Chicken Wing Stew
- Papad Ki Subji Vegetarian Masala Poppadom
- Pitod Ki Sabji Vegetarian Indian Chickpea Dumplings
- Chingri Malai Curry Creamy Bengali Coconut Prawns
- Authentic Massaman Curry Recipe with Beef
- Thai Green Curry Chicken
- Thai Pork & Beef Mince Curry Khua Kling
- Chiang Mai Noodles “Khao Soi”
- Vegetarian Roti Canai Curry
- Barbecued Thai Red Prawn Curry
- Chicken Shahi Korma
- Vegetarian Shahi Paneer
- Indian Pudla Crepes
- Thai Beef and Pumpkin Curry
How To Make Traditional Burmese Dal Chicken
Burmese Dal Chicken Curry
- French knife
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- Large pot or Dutch Oven
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- Mixing bowls
- 1/2 cup Yellow Split Peas
- 2 lb Skinless Boneless Chicken Thighs
- 1 tbsp Paprika
- 1/2 tsp Ground Turmeric
- 1 tbsp Fish Sauce
- 2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/3 cup Canola Oil
- 1 oz Fresh Ginger peeled, thinly sliced
- 2.5 cups Red Onions chopped
- 1/3 cup Minced Garlic
- 2 Red or Green Chili thinly sliced
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 3 cups Water
- 1 tsp Curry Powder
- 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
- 1 cup Cilantro garnish
- 1 Lime cut into wedges, garnish
- Cover split peas with 1 inch of water and soak overnight. The next day, drain and set aside.
- Place chicken thighs in a mixing bowl. Use your hands to mix with paprika, turmeric, fish sauce, and salt. Let the chicken marinate at room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients.
- In a large pot, heat all but 1 tbsp of the oil over medium high heat. Add ginger and cook until edges become lightly browned, 2 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring often to prevent scorching, until the onions have softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili, bay leaf and decrease the heat to medium low, and cook gently until most of the water from the onions have cooked out, about 10 minutes. Transfer contents of the pot to a bowl.
- Add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil to the pot and heat over medium heat. Add chicken, distributing the pieces in a single layer. Increase the heat to medium high and let the chicken cook for 3-4 minutes. Return the onion paste to the pot, add the water and bring pot to a boil.
- Stir in the soaked yellow split peas, curry powder, and garam masala. Lower to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until the chicken is near tender, about 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat then let the curry sit for 20 minutes before serving.
- Serve with steamed rice, cilantro and lime wedges.
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