A quest for gastro-liberation, an excuse to buy more cookbooks…

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Cari on

I am a reformed creature of habit. Recently, I’ve been craving novelty. Seeking out the thrill of the new; the unknown; the untested. I never used to understand people who endeavoured to eat somewhere different every time they ventured out for dinner. If you find something that satiates your hunger and slake your thirst, why risk the search? However, sometimes your craving wanders back home. And this, to my tongue, tastes like home.


Cari ga (Vietnamese chicken curry)
Bear with me here but my favourite way of serving this curry is with vermicelli noodles and a fresh herb salad. I know it seems anathema to forego the traditional sundries when you have a curry but it balances out the richness of this curry and makes it into a much lighter meal. On the other hand, if you want the sundries, steamed white rice or a crispy baguette are still authentic.


4 chicken thighs
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 knob of ginger
1 large chilli
2 bird’s eye chillies
2 stalks of lemongrass
4 carrots
2 sweet potatoes
1 can coconut milk
Curry or madras powder
Bay leaf or kaffir lime leaf
Fish sauce
Light brown sugar

To serve
Vermicelli rice noodles
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Cucumber slices
Lemon wedges
Sriracha chilli sauce

Start by heating up some vegetable or sunflower oil in a large saucepan or sautee pan. Once the oil is hot, place the chicken thighs skin down and fry to seal and caramelise all sides. Whilst you are doing this, finely chop the ginger, garlic, onion, chilli and one stalk of lemongrass. Once the chicken is nicely browned, remove the pieces from the pan and add in the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and lemongrass to fry and soften gently.

In the meantime, peel and chop the carrots and sweet potato into large chunks (as though for a roast). Once the contents of the pan are cooked and fragrant, add in a tablespoon of curry powder, bay leaf and the chicken. Mix to distribute the spices and add in the coconut milk. Bring to the boil and add in the remaining vegetables, lemongrass stalk and whole bird’s eye chillies. Add fish sauce and sugar to taste and simmer until the carrots and sweet potatoes are tender. Serve with noodles and salad and a simple dipping sauce of salt, pepper, lemon juice and sriracha sauce.