Burmese Chicken Curry (See-Pyan)

There have been a lot of changes recently. I’ve started a new job, and as a result, I have a lot less time. I haven’t forgotten my blog, though devoting time to it has become more difficult. I will still be posting, but not as often as before.

Here’s the Burmese chicken curry, as promised.


Burmese Chicken Curry (See-Pyan)


SOURCE: adapted from Madhur Jaffrey: ‘The Ultimate Curry Bible’


COOKING TIME: 20 min marinating + 40 min

CUISINE: Burmese

SERVES: 2 – 3



454 g chicken drumsticks

2 tsp hot curry powder (I used Madras curry powder)

1/2 tsp garam masala


1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic

2.5 cm or 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp paprika

groundnut oil

1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes (Madhur uses 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped)

1 tbsp* fish sauce (nam pla)

1 stick lemon grass (use the bottom 15 cm, lightly mashing the bulbous end)

               or 1 tsp ground lemon grass



I. Marinating the chicken

1. Place the chicken in a single layer in a wide dish. Sprinkle the curry powder, garam masala and salt over it, and rub them into the chicken.

2. Set aside for 20 minutes or longer, covering and refrigerating if necessary.

II. Making the curry

1. Pt the onions, garlic, ginger, cayenne and paprika into a blender and blend until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of water if needed.

2. Put the oil into a wide non-stick, lidded pan, and set on a medium-high heat.

3. When the oil is hot, add the paste from the blender to the oil, and fry for 6 – 7 min until the paste has darkened and reduced. Stir occasionally.

4. Add the chicken, and continue frying, stirring, for a further 3 – 4 mins, or until the chicken has become lightly browned.

5. Add the tomatoes, fish sauce and lemon grass, and stir for another 2 minutes.

6. Then add 125 water and bring to boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook gently for 25 minutes.

7. Remove the lid, increase the heat and reduce to the desired thickness. The oil should have risen to the top.

8. I served it with rice, garnished with coriander.



Very simple and easy to make and very tasty! Will make it again! There was lots and lots of delicious juice that was great with rice!



* Madhur used 1 tbsp of fish sauce for 1.15 kg of chicken, and I used the same amount for 1 lb  of chicken. It tasted ok, but it might have been a bit much. I’ll stick to Madhur’s quantities next time!





Leave a comment


  1. Mon mari would absolutly love this!
    Congrats on the new job…I hope you like it!


  2. Congrats on your new job. I hope that you are settling nicely into it and that your new colleagues are nice 🙂 It’s understandable that you would not have as much time to post.

    I just made chicken curry last night, a la Singapore. Your Burmese version looks delicious, so I would be interested to try it to see how different it will taste to my curry. Thanks for sharing the recipe.


  3. KATIE, thank you! I do like it!

    NORA, thank you!
    Hey, I’d love to see the recipe for your Singaporean curry!
    I have one such recipe in my ‘Ultimate Curry Bible’ by Madhur Jaffrey, and I was planning to make it soon!


  4. Fabulous, I am so trying this one 🙂


  5. Cool! Let me know what you think!


  6. Trying it !


  7. Hi Julie, thanks for visiting!
    So, what did you think of the curry?


  8. This is a great dish! I have never had a curry from Burma yet and will love to try this one day. In fact, this curry will be my very first Burmese dish!


  9. Nick

     /  13 March, 2010

    Just discovered this site ( & recipe ) after searching foe “see pyan”. since I have just cooked this from the Madhur Jaffrey book you quote.

    Mine looked a little more red than yours, but maybe that’s the brand of paprika ? or other combinations !!

    I made it for two, and cut the chicken into smaller pieces, but also used 250ml water ( as per Madhur ).

    Maybe that’s why the fish sauce affected yours a bit more than expected ? less water used ?

    Regardless, I have had a look around your blog and am very impressed. Lots of good recipes to try !

    I have great success with Madhur Jaffrey’s books, and find the Curry Bible high on the list.

    Have you tried her version of Singapore fish-head curry ? Fantastic. I made it with a red snapper for a New Year’s Day meal.


  10. Hi Nick, and welcome to my blog! Glad you like the recipes. Do let me know how it went if you try any. It’s always good to have feedback.

    My sauce didn’t look that red, I don’t think. Not sure why. Paprika is a good bet. Though the colour up there may not be great – I wasn’t much of a photographer then. Actually, I’m still learning.

    I didn’t half the amount of fish sauce when I made this – tht was the problem. I should have listened to the expert!

    Madhur’s books are fantastic! I’m close to owning her collected works! lol! My favourites are Flavours of India (where she focuses on 6 Indian states Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujurat, Punjab, Goa & Bengal), and World Vegetarian (which I don’t yet own). Have you tried her Far Eastern Cookery? It’s great!

    Gosh – that Singapore fish-head curry sounds tempting! And intriguing! (I’ve just remembered there’s a Bengali recipe that uses fish heads, but haven’t tried it.) You’ve reminded me I’ve been wanting to make that. Glad to hear it’s good!


  11. Nick

     /  14 March, 2010

    Hi Maninas,

    Another reason my sauce might be redder, is that, these days, generally, I use tinned tomatoes, rather than fresh.

    I find fresh tomatoes ( especially this time of year) a bit insipid, bland and watery. Tinned are always the same and the same price : and good flavour, I think !

    I did actually reduce the fish sauce a bit, but I think ( like you ) I should stick with (Saint!) Madhur, as she probably knows best.

    Always good to experiment though.

    I don’t have her ‘Flavours of India’ but do own ‘Taste of India’. They seem similar as “taste” also visits various states of India, presenting, history ( cultural & food ) as well as great recipes. Maybe one is an update of the other ?

    A recent recipe from there was Green Chilli Chicken, which was really superb : the best I’ve made/tasted in quite a while.

    I haven’t looked at your Croatian recipes yet. I have made a few over the years. Pork paprikas was the best ( and easiest ). I used a recipe from Lesley Chamberlain’s brilliant “Food & Cooking of Eastern Europe”. I always remember it, because she quoted her Croatian friend as saying something like “Boys like spicy food, because it makes them drink !” Very true !!

    There was another, although I can’t remember if it was from Croatia or not, that had some great dumplings in it.

    I will have to look up the book ( and its companion “Food & Cooking of Russia” ) as I haven’t used it for a long time : been too distracted by Indian-style cooking.

    Good to see the Mahanindi blog listed here, and a few more that I will also look at ( I viewed the Assam one last night : also looks great ! ).

    Keep it up !




  12. ‘Flavours of India’ is similar to ‘Taste of India’ but there’s more space dedicated to each state, so you get more recipes, and more insight into the cooking. To tell you the truth, the most likely reason for my ‘bias’ is that I made some great stuff from there.

    I’ll definitely try Green Chili Chicken now that you mention it! 🙂 thanks for the tip!

    There seem to be some recipe in the Curry Bible where the quantities.

    I’m not familiar with the Chamberlain book. Sounds interesting!



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