In 1978, Marlar Boon’s grandmother Mabel opened Monsoon in Te Aro, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, one of Aotearoa’s first Burmese restaurants, and ran it until she retired a decade later. Last year, Boon opened Mabel’s, a homage to her grandmother’s authentic, home-style cooking and warm hospitality – fittingly, it’s also in Te Aro.
“This fragrant chicken curry is a favourite in most Burmese households,” says Boon. So simple to make, it’s comforting and homely. The chicken is cooked on the bone, and is traditionally served that way too. “The bones enhance the curry’s flavour,” says Boon, “but the real star is the cinnamon, which creates such fragrance.”
Kyet Thar Hin-Hmwe – Cinnamon Chicken Curry
900g free-range, bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
50ml canola oil
350g onions, diced
20g garlic, sliced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ginger powder
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp caster sugar
1½ tsp salt
1 tsp chicken stock powder
1½ tsp paprika
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp mild chilli powder
15ml dark soy sauce
2 cinnamon quills
Jasmine rice, cooked
What to do
1. Bend chicken thighs to allow you to feel their joint. Cut the chicken from that joint in half to get two pieces of chicken from each thigh.
2. Mix spices and seasonings in a small bowl.
3. Heat canola oil in a pot or deep saucepan on a medium heat. Cook out the diced onion and sliced garlic in the oil until they become translucent. When the onions begin to take on colour, add in the mixed spices and seasoning and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the water and use a wooden spoon to move what sits at the bottom of the pot, stirring so it doesn’t stick.
4. Add chicken and reduce heat to low. Cover pot with lid and let simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
5. Once chicken is cooked, remove pot from the heat and let the curry sit at room temperature for at least half an hour to let the flavours settle.
6. Enjoy with jasmine rice. Will keep in the fridge for up to three days.