Burmese Chicken Lentil Curry

Now known as Myanmar and home to Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, the country once called Burna is nestled between India and China, Myanmar which means its food and culture influences and is influenced by both of its neighbors. With yellow lentils (chana dal) and spices (cumin, garam masala, etc.) are fond friends to Indian food. This comfort curry, not unlike other stews, is thicker and sometmes served over Chinese egg noodles or with Indian chapati bread. I prefer steamed basmatic rice, but accompany this rich flavor sensation with your preference. Serve with a cold frosty beer or a simple German Kabinett riesling.


  • 1 1/2 cups dried yellow lentils
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
  • 1/8 cup fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 bay leaves


  1. Rinse and then place lentils in a large saucepan; cover with enough water to sit 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 25 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Place chicken in a medium-sized bowl and pour over fish sauce and mix and marinate all chicken pieces for five minutes. While chicken is marinating, combine cumin and next 8 ingredients (through ground cloves) in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken; seal and shake to coat all pieces.
  3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes or until tender, add garlic and sauté for one minute more. Add chicken and spice mixture and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and cayenne pepper while scraping the pan to loosen chicken bits. Add tomatoes, lemon juice, lentils and bay leaves. cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover, stir curry, and let simmer for 10 more minutes. Discard the bay leaves, and serve over steamed rice or with chapati bread.


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