Mandalay Noodles with Chicken Curry

This Mandalay classic, called Mandalay mondi locally, is a dish of fat round rice noodles. Mondi noodles are topped with a little chicken curry and served with a small bowl of broth alongside, as well as an array of toppings and condiments. The cooked noodles are tossed with oil and a little toasted chickpea flour, which gives them a textured surface.

Traditionally a whole chicken is used: the meat goes into the curry sauce and the carcass and bones are used to make the broth. You can, if you like, take a shortcut and use store-bought stock and boneless chicken.

Ingredients

  • One 3- to 4-pound chicken or pounds boneless legs and breasts, rinsed

Broth (if Using a Whole Chicken)

  • 8 cups water
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, quartered
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, smashed

Curry Sauce

  • ¼ cup peanut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ cup minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 4 cups Basic Chicken Broth or store-bought (if using boneless chicken)
  • 1½ to 2 pounds fresh round rice noodles, or 1 pound dried rice noodles

Garnishes and Condiments

Method

If using a whole chicken, cut off the legs, then cut the meat off the breast and legs. Cut the meat into approximately 1-inch pieces and refrigerate. Or cut the boneless chicken into 1-inch pieces and refrigerate.

To make the Optional Broth

Place the chicken carcass, wings, and bones in a large pot. Add the water, ginger, shallots, and garlic and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook at a simmer for about 1 hour. Remove from the heat.

When the broth has cooled, lift out the chicken pieces and discard. Strain the broth through a sieve into a pot and discard the solids. Set the broth aside. (The broth can be made ahead and stored, once completely cooled, in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days; it can also be frozen for up to 1 month.)

Heat the oil in a large wok or a wide pan over high heat and stir in the turmeric. Lower the heat to medium-high, toss in the minced shallots, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until it has all changed color, about 7 minutes.

Add the water, fish sauce, and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary. Set aside.

Meanwhile, 10 minutes before you want to serve, bring the chicken broth to a boil over medium-high heat, then keep at a simmer over low heat. Set out six wide soup bowls or plates.

Bring a medium or large pot of water to a boil. Toss in the noodles and cook until tender, 1 minute or so for fresh noodles, 3 to 5 minutes for dried rice noodles. Drain and immediately transfer onto the soup bowls or plates. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon shallot oil and 1 tablespoon chickpea flour onto each serving and toss gently. Top each serving with some chicken and sauce, then sprinkle with 1 or 2 teaspoons fried shallots, a teaspoon or so of peanuts, a slice of hard-cooked egg, if using, a squeeze of lime, a pinch of chile powder, and about 2 teaspoons chopped coriander. Top with a couple of tablespoons of fried noodles, if using.

Invite guests to use forks and spoons to mix their noodles and toppings together Burmese-style. While they do that, add the fish balls, if using, to the simmering chicken broth and cook for 3 minutes. Ladle the broth (and fish balls) into small side bowls, top each with minced scallion greens, and serve. Put out the remaining toppings on a platter or in small bowls so that guests can add extra if they wish.

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