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Ohn no khao swè (Burmese curry chicken noodle soup)

The right combination of noodles and spice to warm you from the inside out.

By Lisa Featherby
  • 40 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 40 mins cooking plus soaking
  • Serves 4 - 6
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Curry chicken noodle soup
This is the Burmese curry noodle soup called ohn no khao swè, close kin to the khao soi found just over the border in northern Thailand. Fried garlic and oil flavour the Burmese version, while the Thai version has more condiments added, such as pickled mustard greens and red shallots. Chickpea flour, also known as besan, is used to thicken soups after cooking in Burmese cuisine; it's available at some delicatessens and Indian grocers.


  • 1 chicken (about 1.5kg)
  • 6 gm dried long red chillies, broken up and soaked in hot water for 2 hours
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 35 gm ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 4 large golden shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1½ tbsp medium-hot curry powder (such as Madras)
  • ½ tsp chilli powder, or to taste
  • 800 ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp tamarind extract, or to taste (see note)
  • 2-3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 500 gm medium fresh egg noodles
  • To serve: roasted chilli powder and besan flour
Deep-fried garlic
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced on a mandolin


  • 1
    Remove wing tips from chicken, then remove breasts from carcass with winglets attached. Halve breasts crossways. Remove legs and halve through the joint. Refrigerate legs and breasts until required, removing from fridge 5 minutes before cooking. Place chicken carcass in a large saucepan and cover with 4 litres water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered until stock is well flavoured (1-1½ hours). Strain stock, reserving 400ml stock to use in curry (remaining stock can be frozen for up to 3 months).
  • 2
    For curry paste, drain and chop chillies and set aside. Dry-roast coriander seeds until fragrant (10-20 seconds). Cool briefly, then pound to a powder with a mortar and pestle. Add ginger, shallots, garlic, chillies and a pinch of salt and pound to a smooth paste (you can also do this in a small food processor, adding 2 tbsp water to help process to a smooth paste).
  • 3
    Fry curry paste in oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until mixture starts to caramelise (2-4 minutes; this may take longer if water was added to make the paste). Add curry powder and chilli powder to taste, stir until fragrant (1 minute), then add coconut milk and reserved stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, add chicken and simmer uncovered until cooked through and juices run clear when pierced with a skewer (15-18 minutes). Season to taste with fish sauce and tamarind for a balance of salty and sour, and keep warm.
  • 4
    Meanwhile, for deep-fried garlic, heat oil in a small saucepan until it starts to shimmer. Add garlic and fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown (1-2 minutes). Remove immediately with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Reserve oil.
  • 5
    Boil eggs in a small saucepan of boiling water over high heat until cooked to your liking (8 minutes for medium-boiled). Refresh eggs in cold water and set aside. Peel and halve just before serving.
  • 6
    Cook noodles in a large saucepan of boiling water until al dente (5-7 minutes). Drain well, then divide among warm serving bowls.
  • 7
    Ladle curry soup and chicken over noodles, top with fried garlic, a drizzle of garlic oil, half a boiled egg and roasted chilli powder, and serve with chickpea flour.


Note Tamarind extract is best made fresh. To make 80ml extract, combine 1 tbsp tamarind pulp with 100ml hot water, and stand until pulp softens. Break up the pulp in the water with the back of a spoon and strain through a coarse sieve.
Drink Suggestion: Strong saison ale. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.