This traditional Burmese egg curry recipe makes a Myanmar curry shop staple that’s typically eaten for breakfast. Served with a spicy tomato and onion-based curry, the boiled eggs are peeled and deep fried in turmeric until golden, which is why you’ll also see this called a Burmese golden egg curry recipe in Burmese cookbooks.
This classic Burmese egg curry recipe is from the modestly printed Burmese cookbook Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way (1978) by Mi Mi Khaing, which was one of the first Burmese cookbooks – indeed, one of the first books – that we bought on our first trip to Myanmar some years ago. It’s a delight to read and is full of insights into the culinary culture as much as the cuisine.
The cuisines of Myanmar, particularly Burmese cuisine and Shan cuisine, are some of our favourite Southeast Asian cuisines, yet we haven’t written nearly enough about Myanmar and the food of Myanmar here on Grantourismo, despite having travelled to Myanmar to do stories and extensively update a Myanmar travel guidebook.
That’s going to change now, beginning with this traditional Burmese egg curry recipe, which makes one of our favourite dishes from Myanmar – another is ohn no khao swe, a Burmese chicken coconut noodle soup, for which we do have a recipe – it’s a real favourite of ours.
It’s hard to write about the food of Myanmar, without writing about recent tragic events in Myanmar, but I’m going to leave that subject to Lara who is working on a post on how you can help the people of Myanmar. We’ll keep directing new recipes to that post to raise awareness about the horrific situation and hopefully raise some money.
This classic Burmese egg curry recipe is this week’s recipe for our Weekend Eggs series on our favourite quintessential breakfast eggs recipes from around the world. If you haven’t visited us in a while, we recently rejuvenated Weekend Eggs, which we launched with Grantourismo over ten years ago.
Recipes published in our rebooted breakfast recipe series so far include Russian devilled eggs, Turkish poached eggs çılbır and menemen scrambled eggs, Calabria’s ‘eggs in purgatory’ with ’nduja, Thai son-in-law eggs, the Thai omelette kai jiaw, Cambodian steamed eggs, and Malaysia and Singapore’s half-boiled eggs with kaya jam and toast.
Before I tell you about this Burmese egg curry recipe, we have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve enjoyed our recipes, please consider supporting Grantourismo by using our links to book accommodation, rent a car or campervan or motorhome, buy travel insurance, or book a tour on Klook or Get Your Guide. You can also shop our Grantourismo store for gifts for foodies, including fun reusable cloth face masks designed with Terence’s images.
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Burmese Egg Curry Recipe for a Myanmar Breakfast Favourite
This classic Burmese egg curry recipe makes a Myanmar food shop favourite of golden-coloured deep-fried boiled eggs in a spicy tomato and onion-based curry, which is why you’ll also see it called a Burmese golden egg curry in Burmese cookbooks and on recipe sites.
In some ways this Burmese egg curry is a cousin to Thai son-in-law eggs and the many versions of Chinese tiger skin eggs*, however, it’s the unique flavour of this Burmese egg curry that sets this dish apart.
One of the first things we noticed about Burmese curries when we set out to sample the crazy array of curries on offer at street food stalls and curry restaurants in Yangon years ago was the amount of oil in which the curries swam. In Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way, Mi Mi Khaing explains that one of the “distinguishing characteristic of Burmese curries is the good amount of oil (peanut or sesame) used. At the end of making one of these curries, is the final separation of the oil from the gravy.”
Sesame and peanuts are major crops in Myanmar and both peanut oil and sesame oil (note this is raw sesame oil) are the two main cooking oils used in kitchens there. While this may be disconcerting to the health conscious, the Burmese only eat a small amount of these curries compared to the amount of rice consumed and there’s always a salad or cooked vegetables and relishes on the table to provide balance.
A lot of the Burmese curries containing whole boiled eggs that we saw on street food stalls, particularly at Yangon’s late afternoon and evening markets, were rather dark in colour, however, this Burmese egg curry recipe makes a vibrant red curry due to the tomatoes and the tint of turmeric and chilli powder.
Tips for Making This Burmese Egg Curry Recipe
Many of these Burmese egg curry recipes leave out two key ingredients. The first is the thinly sliced onions that are lightly caramelised in turmeric oil, that is then drained off, and added back to the dish before serving. This is a technique that is used for many Burmese dishes.
The second key item is curry powder. Some food writers believe there is no such thing as curry powder in Burmese cooking because it’s a misleading term in Myanmar, as it is in India. Call it a spice mix if you prefer, however, Mi Mi Khaing calls it curry powder in Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way, so that’s what we’re going with.
Curry powders are still something that many Burmese home cooks blend themselves, with their own ratio of spices and which spices are included depends on the source of protein or vegetables being used.
A typical curry powder mix might include 40 g peppercorns, 40 g cumin seeds, 15 g bay leaves, 15 g cinnamon, 15 g cardamom, 5 g cloves and 80 g coriander seeds. You’ll note that common spices such as turmeric powder and chilli powder are not in this mix, but are often blended into commercially available Burmese curry powders, which you’ll find at markets and supermarkets.
When it comes to the eggs, it’s true that the people of Myanmar prefer duck eggs for their size and larger yolks. If you wish to use duck eggs, note that they are around 20-30 grams larger then hen’s eggs and will take a few minutes more to cook.
We’ve used hen’s eggs for this recipe and we cook them for 5-6 minutes using our boiled egg technique. See our guide to cooking eggs perfectly. You do need to handle these soft-boiled eggs gently – hard-boiled eggs are sturdier – but we like our creamy yolks.
The original recipe uses ‘ngabok’ which is dried salted fish that is often confused with ‘ngapi’ which is fermented fish paste or fermented shrimp paste (there are three types of ngapi). Shrimp paste is not a substitute. We use pounded dried shrimp, a very common ingredient in Burmese cooking for that umami flavour and texture, as well as fish sauce.
* For a great explanation of Chinese tiger skin eggs see this clip on the YouTube channel, Chinese Cooking Demystified.
Classic Burmese Egg Curry Recipe
- 5 large eggs
- 100 ml peanut oil or raw sesame oil
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 red shallots sliced finely
- 3 red shallots chopped roughly
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp dried ginger powder
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 2 medium Roma tomatoes chopped roughly
- 1 tinned tomato crushed
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp dried shrimp ground
- Boil the eggs according to our boiled egg guide around 6 minutes. Cool the eggs down in an ice bath carefully remove the shells in the water. Dry the eggs off with a paper towel so that they don't splatter when fried.
- Heat oil in large wok to medium heat, add the turmeric and fry the 2 shallots until soft, lightly caramelised and golden in colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a rack with a kitchen towel.
- Transfer the oil to a smaller, deep frying pan and add extra oil if necessary so that the oil will cover the eggs halfway. Heat the oil to medium.
- Using a slotted spoon, lower the eggs into the oil and roll them around every 20 seconds or so until they are an even golden colour.
- Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, drain and set aside.
- Add the oil back into the wok and stir-fry the other shallots. When they are translucent, add the garlic, ginger, chilli powder, curry powder, tomatoes, and fish sauce.
- Cook this down until the sauce becomes thick. Halve the eggs carefully and place yolk side up in the curry. Add about 1/2 a cup of water and simmer.
- When you're happy with the consistency of the curry, add half the dried shrimp, stir through and then check the seasoning and add salt as necessary.
- When serving, top the serving dish or each individual dish with the turmeric-fried onion slices.
- Serve with the rest of the ground dried shrimp.
Please do let us know if you make this classic Burmese egg curry recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you. If you enjoy it, we’d also appreciate it if you took a few seconds to leave a rating.