Chicken Curry with Potatoes and Peas

Cà-rí Gà

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Little Saigon Cookbook: Vietnamese Cuisine And Culture In Southern California's Little Saigon

Little Saigon Cookbook

By Ann Le

Published 2011

  • About

Every Southeast Asian cuisine has its own version of curry, but the Vietnamese chicken curry is my favorite because it is less stewlike than other curries and has a wonderful flavor of coconut milk and subtle spices. My grandma’s recipe here is the best example of Vietnamese curry I know. The South Vietnamese like using yams, and the curry powder meshes well with the yams’ sugary goodness.


  • 2 stalks fresh or dried lemongrass, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
  • 3 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste (less if you want a milder flavor)
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • pounds skinless chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • yellow onions, chopped into 6 pieces and separated
  • 1 bay leaf
  • cups water
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 pounds yams, peeled and sliced into -inch pieces (white potatoes can be substituted)
  • cups frozen or canned peas
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


    1. If using dried lemongrass, remove its rough outer leaves with your hands until you see fresh green layers. Soak in warm water for up to 30 minutes to soften the herb.
    2. In a food processor, combine curry powder, garlic, sugar, shallots, salt, chili paste, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and black pepper. Lightly pulse and process into a rough paste. (The traditional version of this curry calls for using a mortar and pestle, but the food processor works fine here.)
    3. Rub the paste all over the chicken with your hands. Put the chicken in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
    4. In a large stockpot, heat the remaining oil over medium heat and cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf and lemongrass and cook for another few minutes.
    5. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Add it to the stockpot and sear it with the lemongrass, onion, and bay leaf. Let the chicken cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until it is browned.
    6. Add the water, coconut milk, carrots, and potatoes to the pot. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 5 minutes. Bring down to a simmer and cook for another 15 minutes. (If you want to shorten the cooking time, parboil the carrots and potatoes before adding them to the pot.) Test the carrots and potatoes to make sure they are cooked through before adding the peas. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes at a light simmer.
    7. Serve hot over rice or with fresh, warm baguettes. Garnish with the chopped cilantro. If any curry is left over, refrigerate it immediately, as coconut milk tends to spoil very quickly. The curry will be even more flavorful the next day. Reheat just the amount of curry you will be eating, either in the microwave or on the stove.