Burma Superstar Chicken Dal Curry

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Chicken Dal Curry is a comforting Burmese stew made with yellow peas, chicken, ginger, turmeric, curry and spices.

Chicken Dal Curry is a comforting Burmese stew made with yellow lentils, chicken, ginger, turmeric, curry and spices.
Chicken Dal Curry

Although I don’t want summer to end, I am looking forward to more braised dishes and stews. This dish satisfies both my cravings for curry and chicken stew, combining two of my favorite comfort foods. More comfort food chicken recipes I also love, Chicken Coconut Curry, Filipino Chicken Adobo, and Instant Pot Latin Chicken Stew with Corn.

Chicken Dal Curry is a comforting Burmese stew made with yellow lentils, chicken, ginger, turmeric, curry and spices.

What is Burmese Food?

Best way to describe it, if Chinese, Thai, and Indian food had a baby, it would taste like this. Situated between India, China, Thailand and Laos, Myanmar (formerly Burma) combines the food traditions of the countries it borders.

In the US, Burmese food is San Francisco’s best kept secret, where Burma Superstar is a tried and true foodie destination. There’s usually a 2 hour wait to get in, but if you’re lucky enough to get there when the doors open, you’ll experience a taste of this amazing cuisine a little faster. Once you try Burmese food (hello tea leaf salad!), you’ll be just as obsessed as the rest of us!

Last time I was in the San Fransisco area shooting my cookbook, I fell in love with Burma Superstar! So much so, I came back to New York hoping to find a similar restaurant here, but with no luck. Luckily, to get my Burmese food fix, The Burma Superstar’s Cookbook (affiliate link) to the rescue!

This Chicken Dal Curry was adapted from the cookbook. I made a few adjustments to the recipe to suit my palate and make it lighter such as eliminating the fish sauce, cutting back on oil and a few other changes. The results were simply wonderful, a dish I have made a few times since. My preference for making this is to cook it slow and low in the stove, but I also tested this in the Instant Pot for your convenience.

Chicken Dal Curry is a comforting Burmese stew made with yellow lentils, chicken, ginger, turmeric, curry and spices.


More Curry Recipe You May Like:

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4.84 from 36 votes
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Chicken Dal Curry

529 Cals 64 Protein 31 Carbs 16 Fats
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Yield: 4 servings
COURSE: Dinner
CUISINE: Asian, Burmese
Chicken Dal Curry is a comforting Burmese stew made with yellow peas, chicken, ginger, turmeric, curry and spices.


  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • 2 1/2 lbs (8) bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ounce piece ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups minced yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup minced garlic
  • 1 to 3 Thai chiles, optional
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon Madras curry
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 cup cilantro sprigs for garnish
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges for garnish


Stove Method:

  • Cover the split peas with 1 inch water and soak overnight. Drain the next day. (if you don’t get a chance to soak, simmer peas in 2 cups water in a separate pot 20 minutes while the chicken cooks).
  • Season chicken with paprika, turmeric and salt.
  • In a 6-quart pot, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the ginger and cook until browned, 2 minutes.
  • Add the onions and cook, stirring often to prevent scorching until softened, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic, chiles, bay leaves, decrease heat to medium-low and cook, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and wipe the pot clean.
  • Add the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the chicken in a single layer and brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Return the onion mixture to the pot, add the water and bring to a boil.
  • Lower to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until the chicken is almost tender, about 25 minutes.
  • Stir in the soaked yellow peas, curry powder and garam masala, cover and cook until the peas are tender, about 45 - 55 minutes, or longer if needed uncovering the post the last few minutes if too watery. If too thick, add more water. Remove from heat (if the split peas cooked separately, add them in the last 10 minutes of cooking).
  • Discard the ginger and bay leaves. Adjust salt to taste.
  • Serve with cilantro and lime wedges.

Instant Pot Method

  • Skip the soaking the peas step.
  • Season chicken with paprika, turmeric and salt.
  • In a 6-quart Instant Pot, press saute and heat 2 teaspoons oil.
  • Add the ginger and cook until browned, 2 minutes.
  • Add the onions and cook, stirring often to prevent scorching until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic, chiles, bay leaves, and cook, 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and wipe the pot clean.
  • Add the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and add the chicken in a single layer in batches, brown on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes. Press cancel.
  • Return the onion mixture to the pot, add the water, stirring the bottom of the pot to remove any browned bits. Add chicken, yellow peas, curry powder and garam masala, stir, cover and cook high pressure 20 minutes, natural release.
  • Discard the ginger and bay leaves.
  • Serve with cilantro and lime wedges.




Serving: 2thighs, 3/4 cup peas, Calories: 529kcal, Carbohydrates: 31g, Protein: 64g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 3.5g, Cholesterol: 266.5mg, Sodium: 771mg, Fiber: 9.5g, Sugar: 6.5g
WW Points Plus: 13
Keywords: Burmese Chicken Dal Curry, Burmese food, Chicken Dal, Chicken Dal Curry

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  1. Only when actually preparing this I noticed how it’s actually a very small amount of veggies in comparison to the amount of meat. So I suppose one should have sides with it – anything else other than rice that is recommendable?

  2. My new favorite, made in the instant pot, missing some veg so I added carrots

  3. Trying this right now.  Question do you chop up the chili or leave it whole?

  4. Foolproof and delicious! I’ve made this twice! Second time with a bunch of veggies. It’s not that spicy even with two Thai chilies so I will try to add more heat next time; fish sauce sounds like a good idea too. Lime and cilantro at the end make the dish IMO so don’t skip it. It’s very flagrant – my friend told me she smelled it when she came into my building and I’m on the 4th floor (sorry neighbors!). I will definitely make this a few more times to get me through the cold this Winter.

  5. Very yummy! I used red lentils and next time I’ll double those since there was plenty of liquid.  I used boneless, skinless thighs cuz I cut off a lot of fat and grizzled areas first – so I cut them into large strips, let them sit in the spices for a while, and then just dumped in after sautéing the onions and garlic. I added a little cayenne because I only had regular curry. I think adding carrots, as others have mentioned, sounds great, too.
    Thanks Gina!

  6. I’m going to make this with red lentils instead of peas, because lentils are 0 points on WW Blue. I won’t soak the red lentils. They tend to cook away to nothing but make a wonderful dal. I like the idea of adding carrots. I make vegetarian dal a lot and am excited to see this WW friendly recipe with chicken added.

    I know already it’s going to be 5 stars, Gina.

  7. Hello!  Just making this now and already love the recipe!  How might it be adapted for a slow cooker?  I have not made the InstaPot purchase yet.

  8. So delicious! My husband LOVED this! He was so happy to eat this tonight! This will be part of our regular rotation! I added extra spices like everyone else suggested and could only find split green peas. PERFECTION! Thanks, Gina!

  9. I made this tonight, but decided to try it in my tagine.  Because tagine’s hold moisture very well, you can cut the liquid almost in half.  I pre-boiled the peas for 20 minutes, and followed the traditional method directions.  Added the peas and let go for an additional 25 minutes instead of 45.  My first attempt, I used the full amount of water but needed to boil a lot of it off at the end, so would recommend halving the water in the step right before you bring the chicken to a boil. 

    If you don’t like peas, I could also see doing this without them, and serving over brown rice.  

  10. This was good! Used a full bag of split green peas instead of yellow, doubled the spices based on everyone’s recommendation, added a Tbs of fish sauce too for more umami.

  11. I made this and it was delicious – next time I will double the spice and add more heat – I used a jalapeno and took the seeds out.
    QUESTION – I made this in the instant pot and the peas disappeared – is that what is supposed to happen?

  12. I adore this recipe! I have made it several times and use it to wow my guests. The smell is irresistible. Thank you!

  13. This was amazing. We left out the chillies and added chilli flakes at the table so my preschooler enjoyed it too. I also used chicken breasts as my fussy teen won’t eat thigh, but in the pressure cooker the meat stayed nice and tender. The split peas broke right down (I cooked it in advance for a quick dinner after work) and made the sauce really thick and luxurious. My whole family want it on repeat.

  14. Thanks for this wonderful recipe. As the others suggested, I added fish sauce, which really gives this dish character.  I also doubled the garam masala and the curry powder.  

  15. Yellow split peas are no where to be found around me, so I used green split peas and we liked it very much. I probably had about 1/4 cup of garlic and decided good enough. I would make this again. Flavors great, nice and subtle. I was excited to see this recipe from this book, as I actually have the book,. I learned about it from an NPR pod cast called “Now that’s a Mouthful” probably a year and a 1/2 ago. It made me excited about the flavors and culture, although I “skinny up” any recipe I come across in most cookbooks. I didn’t pre-soak beans but followed directions to cook them 20 minutes, drain and then add them later in the process. Worked out just fine.

  16. Beautiful and delicious! Super easy and fast in my instaPot.

  17. Delicious!!!! Substituted the chicken and peas with cauliflower and chickpeas (to keep it veggie plus what I had on hand) and it worked very well! I also added a couple veggie bullion cubes along with the water then. My husband said, “If I got this at a restaurant I would be very happy.” Which is like my ultimate compliment. Haha Thank you for the amazing recipes, I appreciate they are easily adaptable and always taste great.

  18. I own the Skinny Taste: Fast and Slow book and have tried a bunch of Skinny Taste recipes so far, and this has been THE BEST so far! (Must be the garlic and Madras curry powder!) I doubled the lentils, increased the curries, and added in the fish sauce, and agree that fish sauce really perfects the dish. I served it with Burmese Tea Leaf Salad on the side (yum!)

    That said, I got really confused about the timing. The itemized cooking times are 2+5+5+3+25+55, which would make for a total cooking time of 95 minutes, but the top of the recipe says it’s a 60 minute cook time. Which is correct? I got impatient and served it after 60 minutes cooking time, but perhaps this only worked because I had forgotten to soak the beans overnight and so cooked them separately. The chicken was cooked through. Can anyone advise whether the cooking time is really 60 or 90 minutes?

  19. Absolutey delicious! We put this goodness in a bowl over mashed or rice cauliflower. One of our favorites! Clean Indian flavor without Cream or heaviness. 

  20. When I ran this through the calculator it came up 12 point green!?

  21. I finally made this last night. It was AAAHHHHHmazing! I read several reviews and many said the need to increase the amount of peas, so I did & I added 1 cup but next time, I’ll add 1.5 cups of the dried peas. I’ve never had dried peas and wasn’t sure how the texture was supposed to be when done. The peas weren’t crunchy but firm and kinda gritty maybe? Not gross by any means, but different. It took much longer to cook them (even with soaking for about 8 hours) than the time in the recipe. I sliced my chili in half and seeded and tossed it in that way.  I added chicken stock and not water (also don’t need 2.25 cups but rather 1.75-2). I may add diced carrots next time just for a subtle sweetness and texture. Oh, and after the chicken thighs were done, I deboned and put the chicken back in the stew. I prefer thighs too BUT they have a tendency to have fat and grizzle hidden and if I bite into any, I’m done! Overall, this recipe was definitely worth the time, money, and the hubby loved it. Thanks again Gina for another winner! 

  22. Made this for dinner tonight. Because there is just two if us I halved the recipe now I am feeling egretful because it was so good. I modified the recipe a bit for the instant pot but stayed true to the recipe other than adding chicken stock instead of water. Definately a keeper.

  23. Incredible flavor! I added a tsp of fish sauce, doubled the lentils, & added a tsp of salt to the sauce mixture. I also took skin off the Ckn & rubbed spice mixture on each thigh and added a little more salt after I rubbed the spices in. I minced the ginger. And minced the chili peppers. Used 1.5 bulbs of garlic, 1.5 onions.

  24. Made this tonight in the pressure cooker and it was SO GOOD! Doubled the curry and garam masala but otherwise followed the recipe. Next time I think I will double the split peas and add in some fish sauce as per some of the other comments. This will go in the regular rotation for sure!!

  25. Amazing combination of flavors! This will become a regular at our house. 

  26. Looks yummy and plan to give the recipe a try tonight.. Do you peel the ginger?

  27. This was a fabulous recipe. I made it as written with one exception, I added a tablespoon of fish sauce into the recipe. I did this because fish sauce adds a ton of umami and in reading the write up about the recipe it was left out. When making this recipe (or any other) you do you!

    Thanks GINA for all you do!

  28. This recipe is SO delicious just as written. Love Burma Superstar and miss it dearly. Now, if I could just figure out how to make that tea leaf salad and samosa soup… 

  29. I misread the directions for the ginger and diced it instead of leaving whole. Have i totaly ruined the recipe/ flavor of the dish?

  30. We enjoyed this recipe this evening. It had plenty of flavor for us. I served it over brown rice, but actually didn’t end up eating most of the rice. I used both thighs and breasts and the thighs were much better for this recipe.

  31. This was really delicious! Will definitely be making again. Love so many of your recipes!

  32. My family enjoyed this dish. I used frozen, boneless chicken thighs in my instant pot and one cup green split peas (my store didn’t have yellow) and thought it was very yummy. I kept the time the same- 20 minutes under high pressure. There was still a lot of liquid even with the full cup of peas. I might do 1 1/2 cups next time.

  33. Could this be done in the slow cooker?

  34. At first we were underwhelmed by the recipe as it came out kind of flat, which is super surprising to us as we love everything Skinnytaste. I read the description overnight and saw that Fish Sauce was omitted from the recipe in Skinny-fication. We added some to the leftovers today and wow! It perked up the dish and added what was missing for us. If you feel it is missing something, try a few drops of fish sauce (we used 6 drops of red boat in each of our servings, but we love nuoc mam)!

  35. Hi GINA- can this be adapted for the slow cooker?

  36. This was so good! Nice to have a curry with a little different flavor profile and no coconut milk or cream. Like someone else mentioned the 15 mins prep time is laughable unless you’re using a food processor to “mince” but even still, all that garlic takes peeling! I used the instant pot method and everything turned out perfect. Paired with jasmine rice. Might double the split peas next time though to thicken it up a little and extend portions a bit.

  37. Thanks for this spicy recipe! I ate the dish with cauliflower rice to add more veggies without overdoing it on carbs. Worked well!

  38. you don’t say what to do with the ginger. slice it? mince it?

  39. This curry was absolutely delicious!!! And the chicken cooked in the Instant Pot fell off the bone and was soooo juicy! I couldn’t find yellow split peas at the time, so I used green. Tonite, I’m recreating with yellow split peas found at a nearby Indian market!

  40. I made this last night in the instant pot and the flavors were great — thank you! However, it was also rather watery. I realized that the recipe didn’t call for reducing the amount of water for the instant pot version, as is normally done. I intend to reduce the water the next time I make it, but wondered if you had any guidelines. Thank you!

  41. Delicious. Will make again with expectation it takes significantly longer. Much more preparation time than 15 minutes
    (I had to peel garlic. 1/3 c is a lot of peeling. Mince all the onions. Prep the ginger. Take the skin off the chicken.). Difficult finding ginger medallions after pressure cooking. Would have been helpful to have substitutions for chillis- I used Serrano. Also a little lesson on curry and Garam masala would be useful for some people. I happen to have on hand some GM I made. Can be frozen. 

  42. Could you use chicken breasts?

    • I’m wondering the same thing and if so what the cooking time would be.  I have made it with thighs and its delicious.  But hard to find those right now

  43. Could you use boneless thighs for this? I imagine it would change the points and cook time? Looks delicious!

  44. Just made this recipe – it’s DELICIOUS but I will definitely serve it with rice or two-ingredient dough pita. I need something for all the sauce. Next time I might add more peas to thicken it, too.

  45. This recipe was so comforting and delicious!! Will definitely be making again

  46. Making this right now and my kitchen smells AMAZING. Thank you, Gina!!

  47. Thanks for posting! Burma Superstar is amazing and as was this recipe!

  48. Where do you get “Madras Curry”? Never seen that in my local Indian Grocery Store…

  49. A long-time follower and Burma born. Never cooked any Burmese curry dishes before so I’ll have to give this a try. I’d love to see you come out with more of your favorite Burmese food recipes on your platform. :):)

  50. Excellent! Made this in a Dutch oven; started on stovetop, finished it in the oven. I served it with a little rice to sop up all the delicious sauce. Thanks for the recipe!

  51. Do you think this would freeze well with bone-in chicken?

  52. Is the madras curry you use a powder or paste? Do you have a preferred brand? Thanks!

  53. Is that really 1/3 CUP garlic? I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much garlic in a recipe before. (I’m also totally unfamiliar with this dish… Maybe it really is that garlicky?)

  54. My grocery store only has green split peas. How would using them instead of yellow split peas affect/change this recipe? Thanks in advance, Gina.

  55. Omg looove Burmese Superstar. Their tea leaf salad is truly incredible. 

  56. Hi Gina! When you advise to soak the peas overnight, can you continue to soak them all day too, while you are at work? Or would it be better to start soaking them first thing in the morning and then drain them just before starting dinner for that night? 

    Thanks in advance! ❤️

  57. Shew! That’s a calorie punch! Looks yummy, though.

  58. Any recommended substitutes for chicken? I’m vegetarian.

  59. I LOVE burma superstar! I used to go all the time when I lived in SF. I would love to see more Burmese recipes or dishes from
    Burma superstar (though I know it’s a niche cuisine). I will def make this this weekend! 

  60. This looks amazing! Your title says yellow lentils, but your instructions and ingredients say yellow split peas, which one is used?
    Your photo looks like there are chunks of carrots (?), are there any veggies in this? Thanks, cant wait to make it!

  61. When I Google “Madras curry” it comes up with a sauce, not a powder. If I didn’t read comments, I wouldn’t have realized it was supposed to be a powder.

    Since you are wiping down the pot after cooking the onion mixture, does it affect the flavor if the onion mixture was made on the stove and then added to the chicken?

  62. Yum! This looks delicious. Before I make it though, what is Madras Curry? Is this powder or paste and where do you find it?

    • It’s a powder, and I have made it with plain curry powder as well and it was great. Madras has more spice I believe.

  63. Could this be done in the slow cooker? Would boneless thighs work as well? Thank you!