Thursday, May 10, 2012

Burmese curry

A Thai/Burmese restaurant in our neighbourhood gave us an introduction to Burmese food many years ago, namely Burmese curries. They include many similar ingredients to Thai curries although they don't typically use coconut milk or kaffir lime. I used to reproduce one at home with the aid of a cookbook recipe that would have my boys raving that it tasted exactly the same as the one down the street. These curries were always meat based so it's something I've been keen to replicate with the aid of some mock meat.

This was in fact my second attempt at a mock meat version. When I first gave this a shot and it didn't taste quite right, I realised that I had used the wrong recipe. There are a couple of Burmese curry recipes in my cookbooks and I had completely forgotten which one I used to make. This time it turned out much closer to how we can recall it tasting although it still wasn't perfect in my mind. It was a dry curry rather than saucy which may have been due to using mock meat; that stuff really seems to absorb a lot of liquid.

People who aren't fond of mock meat may find that this recipe works well with tempeh which is something I will try at some stage. The amount of chillies could also be decreased to suit personal spice preferences. It was perfectly spiced for us which means it could be too spicy for others with lower heat tolerance. It's also quite a simple meal to put together. Preparing the paste is the most labour intensive task and once that's out of the way, it's just a matter of simmering with the occasional stir.

Burmese Curry (Adapted from Taste of Thailand by Kit Chan)

3 dried red chillies, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
3 small shallots, roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons roughly chopped ginger
1 teaspoon roughly chopped galangal
2 teaspoons Golden Mountain Thai thin soy sauce (or use soy sauce)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
300g "beef" chunks
1 cup water
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind puree

Pound the chillies, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, ginger and galangal into a rough paste with a mortar and pestle. Add one teaspoon of the Golden Mountain Thai thin soy sauce and the brown sugar and continue to pound until it the paste is relatively smooth.

Heat a pan over medium heat, add the "beef" chunks and the paste and stir frequently for 5 minutes. Stir in a cup of water along with the turmeric and dark soy sauce. Cook over a low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The curry will be quite dry after this time.

Add the remaining teaspoon of Golden Mountain Thai thin soy sauce and tamarind puree and stir well. Serve with steamed rice and stir-fried Asian greens.


  1. glad you found the right recipe - at least you are getting close - never had burmese - but it sounds interesting - never heard of golden mountain sauce before - googled it - does it make much difference and do you use it a lot in other recipe? I am quite curious

    1. Thanks for your comment about the sauce! I bought a lot of different sauces when recipe testing for Terry and you have made me realise that I should have used Thai thin soy sauce which can be used in place of fish sauce instead of Golden Mountain which is a bit sweeter and more like Worchestershire. I have used more of the Thai thin soy sauce than the Golden Mountain so far.

  2. Mmm this looks delicious! I've never had a Burmese curry, but I'd definitely go for this one--it really does have a lot of the same flavors as Thai curries, just a little different!

    1. If you enjoy Thai food then I think you would like Burmese. It doesn't seem to be as well known which is a shame.

  3. I've never tried Burmese food, but these looks really good. I love tamarind in curries, so yummy.

    1. Thanks, we only like tamarind in small doses so I'm always pretty careful with how much I add. It does add something different though.

  4. I couldn't have even told you what Burmese food involved, so it's interesting to hear it's related to Thai (not surprising really, I suppose!). This looks great.

    1. I haven't seen any other Burmese restaurants around Melbourne so it's not a widely accessible or well known cuisine. I only wish that our local served up nicer veg options, we stopped going there years ago because of that.

  5. Hello!

    Great site... I love it!

    Thought you might like to know that I made an adaptation of your curry. The recipe is here...

    I've credited you, and placed a link in the post back to here. Hope that's OK!


    1. Hi Nicole, thanks for your comment! It's always nice to know when someone has made something from the blog and thanks for linking your post back to me. I'm heading over to read it now...