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Vietnamese Chicken Curry

4 Servings

35 minutes Plus marinating

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The category of complexly spiced dishes we know collectively as “curry” was brought to Vietnam by Indian immigrants who arrived in the country in the 19th century, while both Indochina and the port of Pondicherry, India, were under French rule. Lemon grass, fish sauce and star anise were incorporated as curry ingredients to adapt the flavors to local palates. As a result, Vietnamese curry has a uniquely bright, yet deeply savory taste and aroma. Though many versions of cà ri gà, or chicken curry, call for store-bought curry powder, we prefer to mix our own spices so we can control the seasoning. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.




Don’t underblend the spice mixture. Make sure it’s perfectly smooth, without any fibrousness or tough bits from the lemon grass and ginger. Also, don’t use chicken breasts in place of the chicken thighs. Breast meat is delicate and mild; it will wind up overcooked and the curry will lack flavor.

35 minutes

Plus marinating


  • ¼

    cup grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 4

    medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled


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Vera D.
June 23, 2024
Made it several times
Love this recipe. Comes together easy and is delicious. Great Vietnamese flavors
Yaoli Y.

We loved the flavors! Maybe I underblended the paste but the coriander seeds added noticeable gritty/tough bits.

Patricia L.

We loved this and will make it again. We’re making it for two so we halved the recipe but next time I would make the full amount of sauce even if using less chicken. Taste was fabulous.

Russell B.

As the previous commenters note, there is a lot going on here in terms of flavors! This is not a spicy hot dish at all, so would be fine for those who are heat-sensitive (I thought it could use a little heat actually, so next time may slice a serrano pepper into it). I also used 1/2 basil/1/2 mint in place of cilantro, since I cannot eat cilantro (although for once I have to admit that it is a traditional garnish, instead of modern cooks putting cilantro on every-damn-thing regardless of whether it should have it or not). However, I think this is one of those recipes I should see demonstrated--I'm not positive I had it come out the way it was intended to, but could be because my largest skillet w/a lid is 10". All the cook times seemed slightly off: initial stage sauced browned very quickly, then covered had trouble holding the simmer down, but especially the last stage where the sauce is supposed to thicken & cling to the chicken in 5 mins--more like 12-14, by which time the carrots were slightly softer than I think the recipe calls for (although still not really too bad). But overall the other posters are right: can't argue w/the wonderful medley of flavors.

Marc H.

This was a four-thumbs down in our household. Despite prepared in a Vitamix, the texture was too gritty for our taste. Flavor was just "meh". Admittedly, having lived in Vietnam, I knew that Vietnamese curries are not a highlight of the country's cuisine. With so many great curry recipes (e.g. MS's Cape Malay Curry), we'll not be making this one again.

David E.

Grittiness was my problem, too. This dish seemed amazing in prospect but I don't think the flavors melded. So, I guess my W-L record with Milk Street recipes is now 83 and 1. Still not too shabby.

Vanessa K.

This is a delicious dish! Make sure to account for the marinade time. I don’t think I blended the lemongrass enough but it was okay! It was easy and so flavorful.

Gary B.

Very unusual that I try something new from Milk Street and I don't like the dish. This was one of those rare times. Perhaps I was expecting a more traditional curry flavor or, most likely, I underestimated the power of star anise. I won't make this dish again and I'll never use star anise in any recipe! I re-read reader comments (above) so obviously personal taste is the key ingredient, but I would only recommend this dish to the most adventuresome.

Bethany S.

This one was a fun one and I feel like a learned something here - I made this with the lemon grass paste that Milk Street sells in their store and it turned out pretty good! A few thoughts - Firstly, my sauce was definitely blended enough (having the lemon grass paste instead of lemon grass probably helped here) but even so, it seems to have a "broken" appearance at the end - which looking closely at the picture is what MS's looks like too (I think). I am wondering of anyone else's sauce looked like this. It didn't matter though because the mouth feel/texture was super smooth and it tasted quite good. Secondly, I didn't want to overcook the carrots but my sauce was really not thickening or coating the chicken at the end. Instead of letting it go longer than the 5 minutes, I added some cornstarch with the lime and that did the trick. It helped the sauce come together and look less broken as well. Lastly, definitely use the 12" skillet as recommended in the recipe - Even with my full size skillet, I was at max capacity!

Alexandra H.

What is a good substitute for the star anise? I'd rather eat an old shoe than put anything remotely licorice into my mouth. :)

Lynn C.

Hi Alexandra -

Star anise is a pretty central ingredient and flavor in this dish (and Vietnamese cuisine), so eliminating it will definitely alter the authenticity of the dish. That being said, you could eliminate it altogether and/or add allspice berries or fennel seeds, which would obviously be much harder to fish out at the end.

The Milk Street Team