Oct 15, 2018

Making Rahkine Chicken Curry

When the leaves start to turn red and yellow my mind begins to
think of winter getaways and it always conjures up beautiful Ngapali Beach in Myanmar – my happy place.  When we first stayed at Ngapali’s Amazing Resorts in 2008 there were virtually no tourists and Amazing Hotel Ngapali was the only hotel on this stretch of beach. The hotel, while beautiful and modern, had only a few tourists. Things have changed.  Now there are a couple more hotels on the sweeping two-
mile beach but they are at the rocky end. Amazing Hotel is now fully booked most of the time, the airport has expanded but the beach is still virtually empty and the people are still friendly. Hope things don’t change too much.  I think the government would like to see Ngapali turn into another Phuket.  They have been expanding the runway; I think, with the
intention to make the runway big enough for charter planes to land.  Ten years ago arriving flights (there were only a couple) were announced by a bull horn and people could walk out on the tarmac to meet their friends. No more but the ground crew still lines up to wave goodbye as a plane departs. On the plus side, the internet is available and many places now accept credit cards – we no longer have to take pristine USDs to pay for things. 

The beach has none of the annoying things we have encountered at other beaches: no sand flies, no annoying vendors, and the beach is still virtually devoid of tourists.  John and I enjoy our morning walk to the north end of the beach to the rock topped with a small temple.  Late in the afternoon we walk the other way to where there is a mermaid atop a rock.  The sand is soft and the water is warm.  During the day we relax on the beach, read, refresh with a dip in the small infinity pool or ride the gentle waves on an inner tube.

At the end of the day we watch the sun set and wait to see the lights of the fishing boats that line the horizon like a string of Christmas lights.  Then it is time for dinner. The food is great often with a grilled catch-of-the-day fish dinner. On our last visit I asked the chef, Ms. Myint Oo, to show me how to make traditional Rakhine Hot and Spicy Chicken Curry.  Rakhine, a state in Myanmar, located on the country’s western coast, and is known for its spicy hot cuisine. This recipe is versatile. It can be made with fish and the spice can be adjusted to please the palate of everyone; plus, it is quick and easy to prepare.

Traditional Rakhine Hot and Spicy Chicken Curry

1 each: red and green chili diced (as desired)
2 tsp. chicken powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. turmeric powder
2 Tbsp. shrimp paste
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
2 chicken breasts
2 tsp. tamarind juice
1.5 cups water
5 pieces hot basil leaves
1 tsp. diced coriander leaf garnish

In a mortar grind chili, chicken powder, salt, turmeric powder, and shrimp paste. Heat oil in skillet. Add chili mixture, stir until it turns yellow. Sprinkle mixture on chicken and rub it in. Cut chicken into one-inch pieces. Add chicken, tamarind juice, water, and basil leaves to skillet. Cook over medium heat until chicken is done.  Garnished with coriander and serve with rice.