Vietnamese Curry Chili

    A perfect hybrid of chili and vietnamese curry


    • 8 Cloves
    • 2 Teaspoons Cumin
    • 1 Teaspoon Coriander
    • 1 Teaspoon Fennel
    • 2 Teaspoons Aniseed
    • 7 Dried Arbol Chiles
    • 1 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
    • 2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
    • 2 Teaspoons Turmeric
    • Curry Powder from Above
    • 5 Chicken Breasts
    • 3 Small Onions
    • 1 Large Sweet Potato
    • 5 Carrots
    • 1 Tablespoon Vietnamese Chile-Garlic Oil
    • 6 Cloves Garlic
    • 3 Inches Ginger
    • 5-7 Stalks Lemongrass
    • 1 Quart Chicken Stock
    • 28 Ounces Canned Diced Tomato
    • 1 Can Coconut Milk
    • 2 Cans Small White Beans


    1. Make the powder by toasting the whole spices and grinding everything together. You could also just augment a store bought curry powder with extra nutmeg and cinnamon.
    2. Sear and fully cook the chicken. remove from pan and set aside. Dice onion, carrot, and potato. Cook onion to sweat, about 5 minutes. Add the potato and carrot. Cook and stir well for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and also the chile-garlic oil and stir. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile bruise and break the lemongrass stalks with the back of your knife and toss them into the pot. Allow to simmer about an hour. Stir in the tomatoes, coconut milk, and cooked chicken (shredded). Simmer half hour. Remove the lemongrass stalks and add in the beans (strained and rinsed). Cook another half hour before serving.


    The crisp autumn air is around earlier than normal this year, and this kind of weather has me thinking about chili. Over the weekend I was supposed to make a Vietnamese chicken curry dish, but the thoughts of chili dominated my brain and I ended up making a hybrid stew that contained elements from both chili and curry. Turns out the two go really well together.

    I first made the curry powder which is a little bit different than the Indian or Thai curry powders I am used to. There is a lot more anise and cinnamon/nutmeg/clove type flavors.

    Sweet potato and carrot are traditional in vietnamese curries, so I added them in with the onion.

    The lemongrass just steeped away while the whole pot simmered.

    My first chili of the season. Yum!

    I thought that this dish straddled curry and chili perfectly, but my friend (who happens to be Vietnamese) thought it was a little too curry and not enough chili. To fix this, you could add a few bell peppers and mexican chili powder to the mix. I thought it was just right how it was though.