Cà Ri Gà – Vietnamese Chicken Curry




Cà ri gà is a staple in most Vietnamese homes. Growing up, this version was the only curry I ever knew. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I finally tried Indian, Thai and Malay curries. There were green, red, yellow – made from dry spice blends as well as “wet” curries from ground roots, stems and spices. They all are fantastic yet this curry is the one I come back to most often as it is the one I grew up eating. It is not as thick as other curries and the coconut milk’s flavor is highly pronounced here. Vietnamese like to add sweet potatoes (khoai lan), which I think is just brilliant, bah oui. The potatoes’ sweetness is a lovely contrast to the spicy heat of the curry. Generally, this is another dish that requires a healthy portion of warm, crusty bread which is then hand-torn at the table and dunked into the sauce for maximum curry enjoyment.

I cut up a whole chicken for this dish, which is something I haven’t done for some time with pre-cut chicken being so readily available and convenient. I saved the back bone for making stock. The rest got cut up and added to the curry. I like to make my own spice blend but I’ve recently come across a ready-made one that I really like — it’s the Whole Foods brand of Muchi curry powder. It has a good amount of cayenne in it so it’s just spicy enough for me. My mother normally adds a couple of bay leaves but I really like to use Kaffir lime leaves because they add an incredible fragrance. I also use Savoy brand coconut milk – see photo below for the image [provided for Jen’s benefit] 🙂 I think Chaokoh is another reliable brand, but Savoy is the creamiest, thickest and most fragrant brand I’ve found. Of course, you could use any old brand, but as Paris Hilton would say, Life is too short for mediocrity.







INGREDIENTS: (4 servings)

  • 1 whole cut up chicken (approx. 3.5 lb/1.5 kg), backbone reserved for stock-making
  • 1 heaping Tbl (~ 15g) Muchi curry powder or 1 Tbl. madras curry powder + 1 tsp. red chili paste
  • 1/4 tsp.(~1g) fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. (~5g) salt
  • 2 large stalks of fresh lemongrass, green tops removed (you’ll only use the whitish, bottom 1/3 of the plant) — which is cut into roughly 2-inch pieces and bruised with the back of a knife
  • 3 large shallots, halved
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 bay leaves or 2 Kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 (14oz/400mL) cans of coconut milk
  • approx. 2-3 cups of chicken broth or water
  • 1 Tbl. (~15mL) fish sauce (+ more to taste)
  • 1 tsp. (~5g) sugar
  • 3 medium sized sweet potatoes, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 Tbl. cooking oil


    Marinate the cut chicken with the curry powder, black pepper and salt for about 1/2 hour. Add oil to your pan and set the heat to high. Sear the marinated chicken until golden on all sides (you may want to do this in several batches to avoid steaming the chicken) — set aside on a separate platter. In the same pan, use a spoon to scoop out the top, thick and creamy part of the coconut can (not the bottom, liquidy part) and add that to the pan and cook on medium-high heat until it begins to seize and the fat begins to bead and separate. The coconut cream will be very fragrant at this point. Put all the chicken pieces back into the pan and add the lemongrass, garlic, shallots and lime leaves. Add enough chicken broth or water to cover the chicken and then add the fish sauce and sugar. Bring to a light simmer and cook on medium heat for approximately 20 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes [edit: add more water to barely cover the chicken and potatoes] and cook until they are tender (approximately 15 minutes). Just before turning off the heat, add the rest of the coconut liquid to the pot and gently stir to combine. Serve with warm baguette.

    Check out these other blog posts:

    Cà Ri Gà – Vietnamese Chicken Curry from WanderingChopsticks

    Cà Ri Gà – Vietnamese Chicken Curry from WineGuyWorld


    Bon appétit!



    31 Responses to “Cà Ri Gà – Vietnamese Chicken Curry”

    1. Maria Says:


      This looks like dinner. Hey, can you tell me if there’s a difference between cream of coconut and regular coconut milk? A long time ago, I learned some cooking from some Malay women and they were quite insistent that one use cream of coconut, but I was never sure if this was a translation issue or a real rule.

    2. Fearless Kitchen Says:

      This looks pretty amazing. I have to admit that I’m not a fan of sweet potatoes, so I’d have to find something else to use there, but the sheer quantity of lemongrass can’t help but make me happy!

    3. holybasil Says:

      Maria – Thanks. Yes, they are different.

      According to one source I found, cream of coconut is a smooth, thick liquid made from fresh coconuts. It is thick and very sweet, and commonly used in mixed drinks. It can usually be found in liquor stores, available in liquid and powdered forms.

      Coconut milk, on the other hand, is a rich, creamy liquid made from squeezing or pressing coconut pulp and water. Although it’s not labeled unsweetened, it’s understood that it is so. Nevertheless, some Thai brands of coconut milk (like Savoy) label their product as *coconut cream* — which is not to be confused with *cream of coconut*

      Coco Lopez is a brand of cream of coconut that comes to mind. It’s great for making piña coladas but not curry 🙂

      Fearless Kitchen – Thanks. I think regular potatoes and carrots would also be nice.

    4. Warda Says:

      Finally! An answer to my prayers! I can’t wait to try this curry and the brand of coconut milk/cream, as I have been very disappointed with the other “commonly found” brands. They know who they are!
      BTW, what does “Bah Oui!” means? Is it Vietnamese? 🙂
      (Seriously, I read it as if it was a Vietnamese word, especially after reading “khoai lan”. But then I said:” Bah Non! “:) )

    5. Andrea Says:

      hey Christine! Is this the recipe you made with the kids? I am glad to see it in print. I can get my lemongrass out and repeat the taste. But with you missing, it won’t be the same. I am sharing your blog with my SIL. Ok, see you later.


    6. Jen Says:

      I can’t tell you how much I cannot wait until my treatment is over because there are a ton of your recipes that I want to try! I think Vietnamese cuisine is so amazing – so multidimensional. Yet, I never knew much about it and was afraid to make faux Vietnamese food. But now… 🙂 heh heh. I am so ready. This curry looks fantastic (as do all of your other recipes *sigh*).

    7. Kevin Says:

      That chicken curry sounds so tasty!

    8. holybasil Says:

      Warda, – I’m still trying to picture you saying Bah oui with a Vietnamese accent. You crack me up!

      Andrea- How is going over there in SoCal? Yes, indeed this is the recipe I made with the kids (though I substituted chicken breast for the bone-in chicken pieces). I’m sure the kids will also enjoy bruising the lemongrass – I recall A.J. having exceptional deftness in that department 🙂

      Jen – Oh, thanks Jen. Funny, I would say the EXACT same for your blog posts. You should see my to-do list for cooking items. There’s a separate column each for French dishes, Vietnamese/Asian dishes, Mediterranean, and Jen dishes. I think I need to hire someone to cook everything I want to try!

      Kevin- Thanks!

    9. Wandering Chopsticks Says:

      Did we both make this at the same time? Or you caught the ca ri fever? Hehe. 😛 I love how vibrant the yams look in your photo. Will have to update my post to link up to yours. BTW, the link to mine is broken. The WC part is typed twice.

    10. michelle Says:

      coco lopez also makes a great coconut cake and frosting. yum.

      but i’d gladly take this curry over that. it looks delicious. i’m just starting to learn more about vietnamese and thai cooking, and am always on the lookout for recipe – especially recipes that seem as doable as this one!

    11. Chuck Says:

      Looks sooooo good! I’m getting major hunger pains right now. My stomach is mad at you because it knows it won’t get any ca ri ga today!

    12. holybasil Says:

      WanderingChopsticks – I think we did both make it at the same time 🙂 I like to use add regular potatoes as you did in your recipe too. My mom also sometimes added green peas.
      And, thanks for letting me know about the bad link.

      Michelle – coco lopez in frosting sounds interesting. I hope you do try it – please let me know if you do!

      Chuck – Oh, what with all the good grub you guys put together, I’m sure your tummy will be mighty happy without curry 🙂

    13. Mom Says:

      I can’t wait to try this….I added this to my recipes I want to try list. Thanks!

    14. Gay Says:

      This is somewhat to Filipino curry, except for the lemon grass. Got to try this one out 🙂

    15. Passionate Eater Says:

      I love your recipes so much! You really know how to cook Vietnamese food like no other. One thing that my brother adds to his (which I actually never really liked) is taro. Also some white potatoes too, but I think your’s looks better. (Don’t tell my brother!)

    16. White On Rice Couple Says:

      Yup, Yup, Yup. It’s yum, yum, yum! I love the fact that you used a whole chicken! We find that buying a whole chicken is sometimes cheaper and has so much more variety.
      Savoy coconut cream is one of our favorites to use too. Everything looks just lovely, including the collage photograph! It’s great seeing the meat from raw, to cooked.

    17. cookiejarconfessions Says:

      This is one of my favorite dishes! I like to fry the sweet potatoes first to give them that slightly crunchy texture which does soften up a bit but still retains the chewiness. Delicious! Beautiful photos, I love your blog!

    18. holybasil Says:

      Mom- Thanks, let me know what you think if you do 🙂

      Gay- Thanks

      Passionate Eater – Oh thanks! You know, I’ve also seen taro added to this — very interesting. Not sure if I love it, but it’s a nice variation.

      WORC – Thanks! And yes, whole chickens are quite nice – I think I’ll try to buy them more now.

      Cookiejarconfessions – Thanks! I think frying the sweet potatoes first is nice idea – I’m sure they look and taste even better that way – I might try it that next time.

    19. K. Pengsagun Says:

      Holybasil, I think actually that Maria was asking what is the difference between coconut cream and coconut milk (even though she wrote cream of coconut) – if a Malay was advising you how to cook! And indeed coconut cream is the richer part of coconut milk, the top part that separates out (just like dairy milk); the fat content of coconut cream is at least 2 times that of coconut milk; btw Mae Ploy is richer then Chaokoh brand (both made by the same company, just 2 different brands) so it is a good one to use if you want coconut cream. For more details about coconut cream see: http://www.templeofthai.com/recipes/coconut_cream.php
      Great recipe!!

    20. Layla Says:

      This recipe came out perfectly for me!

      Shockingly close to my favorite version from Golden Deli in Alhambra.


    21. ily Says:

      Can’t wait to try it – I have been searching high and low for the recipe of a vietnamese curry with peanuts that my husband and I had during our honeymoon in Hanoi…. I thought it was a traditional recipe but maybe not! there were potatoes in it, and it was creamy and not particularly hot…. Help!! any ideas? it was NOT any sort of satay sauce, the (ground) peanuts were in the sauce… if anyone can help, it would be much appreciated! 🙂

    22. John Says:

      This Was The Best Vietnamese Dish I Have Ever Tasted!
      Keep On Making Recipes!


    23. Annika Says:

      Holybasil, I have a question about chicken curry in general. There’s a Vietnamese restaurant here that makes a great chicken curry, but it is not the kind described in this recipe. It’s made with bite-sized chicken breast, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, onions and bok choi. It is served with steamed rice. I tried to make it at home, but I think I’m using the wrong curry (I used madras curry); it didn’t taste right at all. Does this dish sound familiar to you? And if it does, what type of curry should be used? I’d be grateful for any tips.

    24. Lochy Says:

      Hi, I was wondering if you could share how you make your own spice blend? Thank you.

    25. Lochy Says:

      Hi, I would love to try this recipe. Are you able to share your recipe for the homemade spice blend? thank you.

    26. Борис Петров Says:

      По-моему, эта тема слишком сложная для новичка 🙂

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    28. NtellectualDiva Says:

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