Vietnamese flavors shine in this chicken lemongrass curry


This saucy dish with fall-off-the-bone chicken gets its creaminess from coconut milk and bold flavors from a Madras curry powder, which you can make in about 10 minutes or buy. In his cookbook “On the Curry Trail: Chasing the Flavor That Seduced the World,” author Raghavan Iyer includes this recipe in his chapter on Vietnam, noting that he adapted it from Andrea Nguyen’s cookbook “Into the Vietnamese Kitchen.”

Iyer writes that the chosen curry powder reflects the tastes of southern India. He recommends it in recipes throughout his cookbook but also notes that Vietnamese curry powder can be substituted if desired.

If you make the dish with the recommended cayenne and black pepper, it will have tongue-tingling heat, so adjust to suit your taste. You can make the paste of lemongrass, ginger and onion in a large mortar and pestle, but a food processor speeds up the process nicely.

– – –

Ca-ri ga: Vietnamese flavors shine in this chicken lemongrass curry. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Rey Lopez

Ca-ri ga (Chicken Lemongrass Curry With Potatoes)

Active time: 25 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

4 servings

Storage: Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Where to Buy: Madras curry powder can be found at specialty spice stores, Indian and Asian markets, and online.


3 stalks lemongrass (lower 3 inches of each), coarsely chopped

3 slices (each the size of a quarter) fresh ginger

1 medium yellow onion (8 ounces), coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola

2 tablespoons Madras curry powder (see headnote)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 1/2 pounds bone-in, skinless chicken thighs or drumsticks, trimmed of excess fat

14 ounces unsweetened full-fat coconut milk

3/4 teaspoon fine salt

1/2 teaspoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns

1 pound red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Sliced baguette, for serving (optional)

1 large lime, cut into wedges


In a food processor, combine the lemongrass, ginger and onion and pulse until finely ground.

In a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the fresh spice paste to the oil and stir-fry until light brown and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the curry powder and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the chicken and cook, stirring until the pieces are coated in the curry spices, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the coconut milk, salt and pepper and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is partially cooked (still very pink in the middle), about 15 minutes. Add the potatoes, cover and continue to simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender and the chicken registers 165 degrees on a thermometer inserted in the thickest part, 10 to 12 minutes.

Ladle the curry into bowls, garnish with the cilantro and serve hot, with baguette slices, if desired, and wedges of lime on the side for squeezing.

– – –

Nutritional information per serving (1 1/2 cups)

Calories: 521; Total Fat: 19 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 238 mg; Sodium: 718 mg; Carbohydrates: 31 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 4 g; Protein: 59 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

– – –

Adapted from “On the Curry Trail” by Raghavan Iyer (Workman, 2023).



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here