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Red, white and blue...pepper (Recipe: Burmese dry chicken curry)


In a week that hosts both Canada Day and the Fourth of July, it might seem a bit surprising to celebrate something in my pantry that comes from halfway around the world.

I can't help myself. Look at these adorable red and white peppers in blue-and-white crocks! Just under two inches tall, they were a gift from Laverne, who brought them home from her recent trip to Vietnam.

Vietnam peppers

On the left, ground red (medium-hot) chile pepper. On the right, whole white peppercorns.

Vietnampepper2_3 The two peppers are used differently, in different parts of the country. In the north, where the food is flavorful but not particularly spicy, the seasoning of choice is white or black pepper. White peppercorns are, just like black peppercorns, the berries of the pepper plant Piper nigrum; the difference is that the black are unripe berries, and the white are berries that have been allowed to ripen fully on the vine. The outer shell is removed by soaking the ripe berries under water until the shells fall off, revealing the white interior.

The hottest food comes from the central part of the country around Hue, the ancient imperial capital, where everyday food shows the influence of the royal cuisine, and fresh chiles are used liberally. Cayenne would be a good substitute for this ground red pepper.

My pantry holds a dozen or more varieties of chile peppers -- whole, ground, red, green, hot, mild -- and I use them somewhat interchangeably. Of course it's most fun, when I'm lucky enough to receive a gift of authentic spices, to make dishes from the same part of the world.

Not from Vietnam but from a stop along the spice trail, this aromatic recipe for oven or grill can be made with bone-in or boneless chicken pieces, and makes a great picnic dish with a cabbage- or rice-based salad.

Burmese dry chicken curry: there's no sauce, but lots of spice.

Burmese dry chicken curry

From the pantry, you'll need: soy sauce, garlic, ginger root, brown sugar, ground coriander, chile powder.

Adapted from Sandeep Chatterjee's classic The Spice Trail: One Hundred Hot Dishes from India to Indonesia. Serves 6.


4 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 Tbsp soft brown sugar
2 tsp ground white pepper
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp red chile powder, mild or hot to taste
2 lb chicken parts, bone-in, skin-on (or 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs)


Add all ingredients except the chicken to a large bowl, and whisk to combine. Add the chicken, stir to coat each piece, and marinate at room temperature for 3-4 hours (not longer!).

Remove the chicken from the marinade and cook over medium heat on the grill, or under the broiler, turning occasionally, until done.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More Asian chicken recipes:
Kung pao chicken
Chicken satay
Penang-style baked chicken
Grilled tamarind chicken
Slow cooker chicken in peanut and chile sauce

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Asian crispy chicken wings, from White on Rice Couple
Asian chicken kebabs, from My Baking Addiction
Cantonese soy sauce chicken, from Rasa Malaysia
Garlic and coriander chicken, from My Cooking Hut
Teriyaki chicken breasts, from Simply Recipes

Burmese dry chicken curry, to serve over steamed rice.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


That recipe looks as if it would set my fireworks off!! Happy 4th of July!!!

the smell of ginger and coriander will enhance the taste of the chicken plus the spike of the chilly powder.

"Comes with fragrant and yet luvly hot"

I love neat little kitchen gadgets, especially beautiful items to store ingredients in!

Very pretty indeed!

so lovely :) one can never have too many lovely containers :) this post reminds me i need to buy some proper peppercorns too :) i've gotten addicted to the freshly cracked stuff lol!

I love that little porcelain containers. The recipe sounds very simple. I will try it out when it's sunny here that I can grill it in the garden. :)

Did you celebrate both Canada day and the 4th, since your family represents both? Hope it's been a been a great celebration!

Pauline, thanks! We're off to the Ancients and Horribles parade in our town this afternoon.

Big Boys, welcome to The Perfect Pantry! Love your blog.

Ari, I'm a sucker for little ceramic pots and tiny wooden bowls.

Nora, thank you.

Trini, white pepper is something I don't use enough, so I was thrilled to receive this gift -- and in such a pretty container, too.

Ninja, it's a beautiful sunny July 4th here, so I'm going to make this chicken on the grill. Thanks for stopping by.

TW, you betcha! Maple syrup on everything!

I love the containers, and you are right, this recipe would be great on a salad in the summer.

They are so pretty, I espcailly like the shape of the one on the left :)

Too cute, too cute- just perfect for the pantry. Almost doesn't matter what is inside!

Tartelette, the chicken is so flavorful and a bit sweet; I'd try it with a cole slaw that's on the tart side. Great picnic food.

Kelly-Jane, I agree, but I'm trying not to play favorites.

Callipygia, I'm already thinking about what to put in them when the pepper is finished....

I love collecting small containers and those are lovely. The recipe is terrific--love the different flavors!

Oh my gosh Lydia, where have I been? Apparently I've been so busy with work and just barely trying to keep the Granny Cart afloat I've managed to miss a ton of your wonderful posts! *sob*
Well, I'm caught up now and feel I've learned much! I love Hue style pho. It's so intense and firey. Love. And I love Burmese food too, it's really underrated. I'm definitely going to tuck this recipe away for a rainy day! Thanks!

I am not sure whether I'm more in love with the tiny containers or the recipe - I have had "dry curry" in my back-of-the-mind-to-cook list for ages, and you have presented me with a beautiful recipe. ow lucky you are to have someone to bear spices for you from afar, and how lucky I am to have someone to give me the perfect recipe right in the middle of grilling season.... Thanks for the pleasure of reading your blog!

Sher, these little crocks will have a long life in my kitchen.

Ann, life has a way of intruding on our fun, doesn't it??? Glad you're back! Burmese food is so unknown here -- well, maybe not in NYC, but in RI for sure -- and yet the flavors are so wonderful. This is really not a "curry" as we usually think of an Indian or Thai curry, with a sauce. This dry curry is more like a grill rub. Enjoy!

Annie, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. I feel very fortunate to have friends who travel and think of me and bring treats for my kitchen. (Stay tuned for a future post about the hand-hammered wok a friend just brought from Shanghai!)

Make Vietnamese Bun Bo Hue! The spiciest noodle soup - very super duper yum

I love this idea and I've always wanted to do this for gifts on Christmas .thanks

First time I noticed a recipe of Burmese origin. It looks pretty easy and worth trying .

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