Burmese-Style Chicken

Although I have never been to Burma, I have visited a number of Burmese restaurants that have opened in California. The food seems to be a cross between Chinese- Vietnamese and Thai. It is an aromatic and fragrant style of cooking that uses spices to coax flavours from foods.

Here I have adapted a favourite Burmese chicken dish I have enjoyed. It is a dry-braised dish that is slowly cooked in spices and its own juices. It is again easy to make and delicious to eat. Serve it with plain rice and another vegetable dish for a wholesome meal.


  • 900 g (2 lb) chicken thighs with bone in
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 stalks fresh lemon grass
  • 3 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 175 g (6 oz) onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water


Blot the chicken dry with kitchen paper. Sprinkle evenly with the salt and pepper.

Peel the lemon grass to reveal the tender, whitish centre, crush the stalk and cut into 7.5-cm (3-in) pieces.

Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, turn the heat to low. Add the chicken skin-side down and slowly brown on both sides. Remove the chicken and drain on kitchen paper.

Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil and fat. Then add the onions, garlic, ginger and lemon grass and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Then add the turmeric, chilli powder, soy sauce and water. Return the chicken to the wok and stir-fry to coat with this mixture. Turn the heat to as low as possible, cover and braise for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Transfer to a warm platter and serve at once.