Chicken Braised with Kaffir Lime Leaf

  • Active Time 15m
  • Total Time 55m

Serves 4

This refreshingly light chicken curry has a complex blend of sour flavors perfectly balanced with sweet ingredients. The three distinct sour flavors, kaffir lime, lemongrass and tamarind are all widely used by Southeast Asian cooks. Kaffir lime leaves perfume the dish with their lemony aroma. Lemongrass injects a subtle herbaceousness. Tamarind adds a citric sweet-sour flavor.


  • 2 oz tamarind pulp, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • For Spice Paste:
  • 1 piece fresh galangal, chopped; or 1 piece dried galangal (about 1/4 inch), soaked in water for 30 minutes then chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, tender heart section only, coarsely chopped
  • 4 shallots or 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 5 fresh small red chili peppers, seeded
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • About 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 small chicken, about 2 lb, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 6 kaffir lime or other citrus leaves or the zest of 1 regular lime
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste


In a small bowl, soak the tamarind pulp in the boiling water for 15 minutes. Mash with the back of a fork to help dissolve the pulp. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into another small bowl, pressing against the pulp to extract as much flavorful liquid as possible. Discard the pulp and set the tamarind liquid aside.

If dried galangal is used, make certain it has become soft and pliable from soaking. Coarsely chop the fresh or rehydrated dried galangal. In a blender, combine the galangal, lemongrass, shallots or onion, chilies, garlic, turmeric and 3 tablespoons water. Blend to a smooth paste, adding more water if needed.

In a wok or large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. When the oil is hot, add the spice paste and fry, stirring continuously, until fragrant, thick and creamy, about 3 minutes. Continue frying, stirring frequently, until the oil separates from the paste, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and fry, turning often, until fully coated with the spice paste, about 3 minutes. Stir in the reserved tamarind liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer uncovered, turning occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk, lime or citrus leaves or zest, and salt. Simmer until the chicken is tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes longer.

Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Serve hot.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.

RecID 2454

nutrition information per serving

470 calories; 21g total fat; 159mg cholesterol; 794mg sodium; 19g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 51g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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