This easy one-pot Vietnamese Chicken Curry, or Ca Ri Ga, is perfect for a cozy night in. Delicious chicken thighs and hearty vegetables are braised in a coconut curry sauce. The end result: a fragrant and flavorful stew that's great with rice or a French baguette.. or even on its own!
What Makes Vietnamese Curry Different?
Vietnamese Chicken Curry, or Ca Ri Ga, is delicious fusion dish that's packed with flavor. It's one of my dad's favorite dishes to cook and it was such a treat whenever I saw Vietnamese yellow curry on the dinner table. I combined both my dad's and my aunt's recipes, while adding my own touch, for a tried and true family recipe.
Curry is traditionally thought to be a heartier dish. But the Vietnamese version is lightened up with coconut milk, chicken broth, and fresh lemongrass. It's also seasoned with one of Vietnam's signature ingredients, fish sauce. It's not as thick as Japanese gravy curry, but it has more body and warming spices than Thai curry. I may be biased but I think it's the best curry out there!
This recipe for Vietnamese curry soup will be the only one you need! Marinating bone-in chicken thighs gives you maximum flavor and the meat will be falling off the bone. The stew is infused with shallots, garlic, lemongrass, and bay leaves for a citrusy, herby note. A hearty vegetable trio of onion, potatoes, and carrots are braised alongside the chicken. And to finish: a buttery baguette or warm rice to sop up every drop of the curry!
Why You'll Love it
- This Ca Ri Ga is one of my family's tried-and-true recipes! Both my dad and aunt love cooking this dish, so I combined their recipes while adding my own touch, for the yummiest curry!
- This Vietnamese curry recipe uses easy-to-find ingredients. I always have them ready in my pantry.
- Serve this as a main or side dish. Growing up, we ate dinner family-style with several dishes, like a buffet. This one was always the star of the show.
- Serve Ga Ca Ri with toasted baguette, rice, noodles, or eat it on its own. It's so versatile!
- Everything is made in one pot for easy clean-up!
- Chicken thighs: I love using dark meat because it's juicer and more tender, but you can use chicken breast instead. I highly recommend bone-in for more flavor, and skin-on for fat and richness. My parents often use leg quarters or a whole chicken.
- Curry powder: Vietnamese curries often use Madras curry powder, which is usually a spicier blend. The brand I use is Kim Tu Thap but Sing Kung and D&D are also popular. Each curry blend is different though, so start with a small amount and adjust to your preferred spice level.
- Fish sauce: Used ubiquitously in Vietnamese cooking for salt and umami. My favorite is Red Boat.
- Cooking oil: Avocado oil is my favorite oil to cook, fry, and sauté with because of its high smoke point (500°F) and neutral flavor.
- Onion, shallot, and garlic: Three aromatics to add plenty of flavor to the curry.
- Lemongrass: A must have in Vietnamese curry! It has a light citrus and mint-like flavor.
- Bay leaves: Another must have in this version of curry. Adds a mild menthol flavor.
- Chicken bone broth: I cook exclusively with bone broth. It supports digestion, is rich in collagen, and has anti-inflammatory components. You can find it in the refrigerated or frozen section. If using regular chicken broth, I recommend the low-sodium one.
- Coconut milk: For sweetness and creaminess. I recommend using full-fat coconut milk for more richness and body. Give it a good shake or stir before adding it to the pot.
- Potato and carrots: Hearty root vegetables. Some recipes recommend frying them beforehand so they hold their structure better. I personally don't find this necessary - just cook them until they're fork-tender but not mushy, and they'll still hold up well in the stew.
- Cilantro and green onion: for garnish
How Do I Prep Lemongrass?
First, remove any dry outer layers that easily peel away. If you have a longer stalk, fold or cut it 3-4 inch pieces. Then use a mallet or the flat side of your knife to pound all over to release te oils. Then add the whole pieces straight into the curry. Don't forget to remove the stalks before serving.
Lemongrass also freezes well! If you purchase a large bundle, you can freeze them for up to a year.
How To Make It
- Marinade the chicken. Cut the chicken into 2-3" pieces. Place into a large bowl and season with salt, pepper, curry powder, and fish sauce. Stir until the seasoning is evenly combined, then cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for at least one hour.
- Sear the chicken. Heat oil in a large pot. Make sure the oil is very hot, then place half the chicken skin side down. Let sear for a couple minutes so the skin gets nice and crispy. When it easily releases from the bottom of the pot, it's ready to flip. Cook the other side for a couple more minutes, then set the first batch aside. Repeat with the second half of the chicken. Carefully clean the pot of any fat or residue.
- Sweat the aromatics. Heat oil again, then add onion with a pinch of salt. When it starts to get translucent at the edges, add the shallot and garlic, cooking until fragrant. If there are any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, add a splash of broth and use your wooden spoon to scrape it up.
- Braise the chicken. Add curry powder, fish sauce, lemongrass, bay leaves, chicken broth, coconut milk, potato, and carrots to the pot. Season with salt and pepper, then nestle the chicken in so it's partially in the liquid. Bring to a boil, then turn the temperature down so it's at a rolling simmer. Cook for 10-20 minutes until the internal temperature of the chicken is 160°F and potatoes are fork tender.
- Serve. Discard the bay leaves and lemongrass stalks. Adjust the curry to your seasoning - add more curry powder, fish sauce, chicken broth, etc as preferred. Garnish with fresh cilantro and sliced green onion, then serve with rice, noodles, or baguette.
- Make sure the chicken is at room temperature before you start cooking. If you're marinating for 1-2 hours, you can keep the chicken out on the counter. If marinating for more than 2 hours, place it in the fridge and then take it out 30 minutes before you start cooking.
- Sear the chicken in batches. If you overcrowd the pot, there won't be enough air circulation for it to brown. Instead, the chicken will steam and you won't achieve crispy skin or as much flavor in the chicken.
- After searing the chicken, let the pot cool slightly and clean it thoroughly. This allows the color of the curry to be more vibrant. Leaving the fond, or browned bits, will make the curry murky and more brown than yellow-orange.
- Cut the potatoes small so they cook in the same amount of time as the chicken. If the vegetables are taking a little longer to cook than the chicken, feel free to keep simmering without fear. Since we're cooking the chicken in plenty of liquid, it'll more forgiving and won't dry out as easily.
- Leave the pot uncovered and cook over medium-high heat to keep it at a rolling simmer. This allows some of the liquid to evaporate for a thicker stew.
- The cooking time will depend on the size of your chicken. I always recommend using a meat thermometer for safety. I used bone-in chicken thighs that were cut in half and it would usually take about 15 minutes for the chicken to cook to an internal temperature of 160°F.
Substitutions & Variations
- Feel free to use any cut of chicken you'd like. Chicken breast, drumsticks, leg quarters, or even a half or whole chicken would work. Bone-in has more flavor, but also takes longer to cook. So be mindful of your cut of chicken and cooking time. As always, I highly recommend using a meat thermometer so there's no guesswork! Chicken should cook to an internal temperature of 160°F.
- If you don't have Madras curry powder, substitute with any curry powder or make your own with a blend of curry, turmeric, chili powder, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice.
- Substitute chicken bone broth with low-sodium chicken broth or stock.
- Serve Vietnamese with a toasted baguette, rice noodles (bún or hu tieu), or rice.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: If you have leftover Ca Ri Ga, let it cool completely to room temperature. Then place into an air-tight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezing: Let cool completely to room temperature. Place into freezer-safe zip-top bags or air-tight containers. I recommend storing them in smaller servings for easier reheating. Write a "Reheat By" date and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Coconut milk may separate after it's been frozen but it'll still edible.
Reheating: To reheat from refrigerated, microwave for a couple minutes, stirring halfway. You can also add it to a small pot and heat over medium with a lid. Add more broth or water if it looks dry.
To reheat from frozen, let thaw overnight in the fridge if you have time. If not, microwave in 1-2 minutes interval until warmed through, stirring in between each interval. You can also place it in a small pot and heat over medium with a splash of water or broth. Cover and stir frequently, until warmed through.
The spice and flavor in the curry can also become more intense after sitting in the fridge and/or freezer, so dilute with more broth or water if needed.
I purchase mine at Vietnamese or Chinese markets because they usually have a large variety of brands and sizes. You can also find them online on Amazon. The brands I see most often are Kim Tu Thap, Sing Kung, and D&D.
Vietnamese curry uses coconut milk, lemongrass, bay leaves, and fish sauce to give it a distinct taste and texture.
Each region has its own version of curry so it's become a loved dish worldwide! It's comforting, flavorful, and easy to personalize so it's pretty obvious why it's so popular 😉
Looking For More?
There's no question that Vietnamese cuisine is one of my absolute favorites. I love re-creating my family's recipes and sharing it with you! To try more traditional Vietnamese dishes, I recommend:
- Vietnamese Shrimp Toast
- Vietnamese Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage (Xoi Lap Xuong)
- Instant Pot Chao Ga (Vietnamese Rice Porridge)
- Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with Dill (Cha Ca La Vong)
- Better Than Takeout Shrimp Fried Rice
Vietnamese Chicken Curry (Ca Ri Ga)
- 1.5-2 lbs skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs cut into 2-3" pieces (see notes)
- 2 tbsp + 2 tsp Madras curry powder divided
- 3 tsp fish sauce divided
- 2 tbsp cooking oil divided
- ½ onion chopped; about ¾ cup
- ½ shallot diced; about 2 tbsp
- 2-3 cloves garlic sliced
- 1-2 lemongrass outer leaves removed, cut into thirds, and smashed
- 2-3 dried bay leaves
- 1½-2 cups chicken bone broth
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 small potato peeled and cut into ½" cubes
- 2-3 carrots peeled and cut into 1" pieces
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cilantro and green onion for garnish
- Pat chicken dry and remove excess skin. Place into a large bowl and season all sides with ¾ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Add 2 tbsp curry powder and 1 tsp fish sauce. Stir to combine well. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinade for 1-4 hours.
- To a large pot, heat 1 tbsp oil over high heat. When hot, add half the chicken skin side down. Sear for 2-3 minutes or until skin is browned and easily lifts off the bottom of the pot. Flip and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Repeat with remaining half of the chicken.
- Let the pot cool slightly and then clean thoroughly, removing excess fat and browned bits.
- Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil. Add onion with a pinch of salt, sweating for 2-3 minutes or until it starts to get translucent at the edges. Add shallot and garlic, cooking for additional minute. Option to deglaze with a splash of the broth if there are any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Add 2 tsp curry powder, 2 tsp fish sauce, lemongrass, bay leaves, 1½ cups chicken broth, coconut milk, potato, carrots, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Stir to combine, then nestle chicken inside. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (internal temperature of 165°F) and potatoes are fork-tender, stirring occasionally. Add more chicken broth if using a lot of vegetables and/or chicken or if you want a soupier curry.
- Remove bay leaves and lemongrass. Season to taste with salt and/or fish sauce. Garnish with cilantro and green onion. Serve with rice, noodles, or toasted bread.
- I purchase my Madras curry powder at Vietnamese grocery stores. I use Kim Tu Thap.
- Storing Leftovers: Place in an air-tight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Freezing: Let cool completely, then store individual servings in a freezer-safe air-tight container or zipper top bag. Write a "Reheat By" date and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: Microwave for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally, or on the stove in a small pot over medium heat. Add a splash of water or chicken broth if it looks dry or is too spicy after storing in the fridge or freezer.
- Substitutions and Variations:
- Use any cut of chicken you'd like. Chicken breast, drumsticks, leg quarters, or a half or whole chicken would work. But I recommend bone-in for more flavor. Always use a a meat thermometer and cook to an internal temperature of 160°F.
- Substitute chicken bone broth with low-sodium chicken broth or stock.
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