Burmese Curry – One for Garlic-Lovers
This Burmese curry is inspired by the flavours from Myanmar, a country that places onion, garlic and ginger at the heart of its dishes. It certainly embodies everything you can imagine from onion and garlic, as these flavours push right through.
But the sourness and umami flavours are not lost in this recipe, and that’s so characteristic of Burmese cuisine. The tomatoes, soya sauce, tamarind and spices hold their own, all which is gently counter-balanced with just a little palm sugar (or dark brown sugar if that’s easier to obtain).
You can omit the sugar if you wish, but it’s very common to use palm sugar throughout south-east Asia in curries. Palm sugar is less sweet than the average white refined sugar many of us have in our kitchen cupboards. There’s no harm in using ordinary sugar, but just be aware that it is sweeter and so less is more.
That is, start off using a little and adjust with tasting. Palm sugar is very easy to obtain in Asian supermarkets, you buy it in blocks and cut off what you require. However, in today’s modern world – you can buy everything you need for these dishes online.
Traditionally made with whole chicken, including bones, feet and head, this vegan-adapted dish uses a little vegetable stock and soya sauce to replace the meat and fish flavours. You could add a dash of fermented bean paste if you can get it, it might help boost that something you get from fish sauce.
This recipe calls for a little bicep strength as it includes wet spices that are best pummelled with a pestal & mortar. But there are alternatives if you follow that link.
All of the ingredients are easily obtainable in an average British store, with the exception perhaps of tamarind. You can omit this, as many recipes you’ll find online don’t include it.
This dish goes well with coconut rice.
- 5 shallots peeled, sliced
- 1 bulb garlic peeled, sliced (about 10-15 cloves)
- 1 thumb fresh ginger peeled, thinly sliced
- 2 red chilli deseeded and sliced
- 1 stick lemongrass outer layers removed, sliced (if you cannot get lemongrass, use rind of one lemon)
- 1 tsp salt course grain
- 1 tbsp tamarind puree or soak about 1.5cm tamarind pulp in hot water, then squeeze out the juice
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp paprika or cayenne pepper if a little more heat is required
- 1 tbsp palm sugar or use demerara sugar as a substitute
- 5 tomatoes chopped
- 2 large potatoes scrubbed and cubed
- 1 large carrot diced
- 1 medium red pepper (US: bell pepper) diced
- 1 small aubergine (US: eggplant) diced
- 1 small broccoli floret
- 100ml vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp soya sauce or use tamari sauce if gluten intolerant
- 2 tbsp cooking oil use peanut oil if possible or vegetable oil
Put the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, shallots, chilli, and salt into a mortar and start pulping away with the pestal. If you cannot do this, then blend them in a food processor until a paste is formed.
Heat the oil in a large pan and then add the paste - you should be hit with a very fragrant smell that will fill the kitchen! Fry for about 2-3 minutes, but careful not to let it burn.
Add the potatoes and carrots and mix well so that they're coated well with the paste. Turn low, replace the lid, and let the vegetables sweat for 2-3 minutes.
Add the aubergines and pepper, stir and then pour over the stock, soya sauce, tamarind and chopped tomatoes. Add the dry spices and sugar and give it a good stir.
Replace the lid and let the curry simmer for about ten minutes, then add the broccoli florets and continue cooking until all the vegetables are tender (that is, you can easily slide a sharp knife through the stem of the broccoli or a cube of potato without resistance).
If you have an intolerance to gluten, please check that there is no wheat or gluten in the soya sauce. Tamari is a Japanese alternative that is becoming increasingly available and traditionally should be wheat-free, but you will need to check as cheaper versions may contain wheat.
Seb is a nutritionist registered with the Association for Nutrition and a writer specialising in plant-based nutrition and men’s health. He graduated from Chester University with a masters degree in human nutrition and loves discovering new and vibrant plant-based recipes.