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Vietnamese Chicken Curry (Ca Ri Ga) with Coconut Cream

vietnamese chicken curry recipe, Ca Ri Ga, in a bowl with soup spoon and bread on the side

Ca Ri Ga, Chicken Curry, is a traditional Vietnamese comfort soup that I ate all the time growing up, through college, and now in my own household. It’s a dish that has stuck with me my whole life and for good reason – it’s super simple to make with affordable ingredients, and it can feed you for days! My grandmother makes her Ca Ri Ga with extra coconut cream, and I’ll never forget how it tastes. So creamy but so balanced. The beauty of this dish is that it’s flavorful enough to grace your Easter dinner table and simple enough to make on a weeknight. The spices and ingredients come together for a perfect union.

Coconut cream and chicken stock make the base of this Vietnamese chicken curry. And you absolutely must get the canned coconut cream – not the refrigerated kind. My favorite brand is Arroy-D from Thailand; you can find it at any Asian market and international market. 🙂 The flavors are enhanced with onion, garlic, lemongrass, and curry powder.

vietnamese chicken curry recipe, Ca Ri Ga, in a bowl with soup spoon and bread on the side

Sweet Potatoes are not traditional, but they are arguably better than the rest.

One time, I ran out of Yukon golds and used sweet potato instead, and they were so incredibly delicious. The texture was tender and silky, and the flavor worked so well with the coconut cream. Sweet potatoes are now part of my recipe indefinitely, and I hope you’ll add them to yours because you NEED to taste it for yourself!

Can I swap out the chicken thighs for other cuts?

Yes, you absolutely can, but I’ve found the chicken thighs are the most tender and easiest to eat. However, if you do swap out the thighs, you can still use the recipe as is and cook the soup a little longer if you’re using bigger cuts! Just know if you use chicken breast, it will be a little drier.

Freeze Ingredients for Next Time

When you buy the lemongrass and Thai chilis for this recipe, you’re going to have a lot extra, especially the Thai chilis. They are HOT and a little goes a long way. Put them in a zip-top bag and store in your freezer for up to 6 months! No need to waste it. You’ll have to cut the lemongrass into 5-inch stalks to fit the bag. Next time you make a soup with them, quickly drop them in frozen since they’ll defrost quickly.

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vietnamese chicken curry recipe, Ca Ri Ga, in a bowl with soup spoon and bread on the side

Vietnamese Chicken Curry (Ca Ri Ga) with Coconut Cream

  • Author: Maria Do
  • Prep Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese

Description

Easy and affordable Vietnamese comfort curry soup made with chicken stock, coconut cream, marinated chicken thighs, carrots, and potatoes. Immensely flavorful using simple ingredients that store well.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
  • 68 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 can full-fat coconut cream (7 oz, add more if preferred)
  • 1 can coconut soda or water (12 oz
  • 23 medium yukon gold potatoes or 1/2 lb baby yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled & diced into 1” pieces
  • 1 medium sweet potato (peeled & diced into 1″ pieces)
  • 1/2 lb baby carrots
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 5” pieces
  • 23 Thai chilis (optional)
  • cooking oil (as needed)

Chicken Marinade

  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt or 1 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 34 tbsp oil

Garnishes

  • lime wedges
  • cilantro
  • microgreens (optional if cilantro isn’t your thing!)

Instructions

Marinate Chicken

  1. In a zip-top bag or bowl, marinate chicken thighs (cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces) with curry powder, garlic powder, salt, and oil for a minimum of 2 hours.

Sear Potatoes & Chicken

  1. Peel the sweet potato and dice into 1-inch pieces. Cut the yukon gold potatoes the same size. (If you’re using baby Yukons, just cut them in half). Drizzle about 2 tbsp oil over the potatoes to coat. Pan fry the potatoes until lightly browned on the outsides so they hold their shape in the curry. They will be par-cooked. Remove from pan.
  2. In the same pan, sear the marinated chicken on all sides until browned. Remove chicken (it will be par-cooked as well), drain any fat or char marks from the pot, and place pot back on the burner.

Make the Curry

  1. On medium heat, add onions and oil to the pot and sweat the onions until soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the par-cooked chicken, sugar, curry powder, garlic powder, bay leaves, and lemongrass to the pot. Caramelize the chicken on medium heat for about 5 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add potatoes, baby carrots and 2 tbsp kosher salt to the pot. Pour in the chicken stock (and coconut juice/soda if you’re using it)*, and bring the broth to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender and chicken is cooked.
  3. Turn off the heat. Pour in the coconut cream and stir to incorporate. Add kosher salt to taste and chopped thai chilis for heat (optional). Serve with French bread, jasmine rice, or just as it is!

Notes

Coconut Soda/Juice: I like to add coconut soda (specifically COCO Rico) to amp up the delicious coconut flavor in this curry, but this is totally optional! If you do add it, just decrease the amount of stock you use.

Keywords: Asian recipes, comfort food, curry, curry recipes, Vietnamese recipes

vietnamese chicken curry recipe, Ca Ri Ga, in a bowl with soup spoon and bread on the side

Over the Years: Variations of This Recipe

I learned how to make this dish in college when I was starting to feel homesick, so naturally, there have been many iterations since then. It took a few years for me to find my “just right” recipe that you see above. While the others didn’t quite make the cut, they’re part of my super important testing process. I wanted to share them here to show you that this curry recipe is very forgiving. It can bear many modifications and still be damn delicious. 🙂

Curry A: One of the very first batches where I tried entire chicken leg quarters, bone-in and skin-on. Looking at it now, I’m cringing because that chicken skin (while a nice color) was so soggy and NOT fun to eat. Haha. It was also just a HUGE portion of chicken and the ratios were all off. I was also using coconut milk instead of coconut cream.

Curry B: Getting closer, finally switched from coconut milk to coconut cream so the base is creamier. This is where I also discovered that sweet potatoes taste AH-MAZING in here. It was still a little messy to eat with whole chicken drumsticks.

Today’s Curry: My “just right” recipe that elicits all the flavors of my grandmother’s Ca Ri Ga. Skinless, boneless chicken thighs were the best for tenderness and prep ease. Sweet potatoes make the cut with Yukon golds and baby carrots which are all fork-tender. 🙂

vietnamese chicken curry recipe, Ca Ri Ga, in a bowl with soup spoon and bread on the side

For another easy and affordable curry recipe, check out my Sweet Corn Curry with Crispy Chickpeas! It uses pantry items like canned chickpeas, sweet corn, stock, and coconut milk.

recipe for sweet corn coconut curry with cripsy chickpeas

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