Coconut Chicken Noodles - Ohn No Khao Swe - A Burmese Recipe
Ohn No Khao Swe - A Dish Among Dishes
Ohn No Khao Swe is a Burmese recipe that literally means 'Coconut Milk Noodles'. Chicken is added and the dish is spiced succinctly to create what is an original recipe in every way. While it is similar to Khao Soi, the famous Thai dish and has similarities with the Malaysian Laksa and the Ohn No Khao Swe inspired Indian dish Khau Suey, as a matter of fact and taste, it has no parallel. Incidentally, the word Khao Swe refers to the preparation of the noodles.
While Mohinga is the Burmese national dish, Ohn No Khao Swe has gained an incredible popularity and following and holds a special place in the hearts of food lovers not only in Myanmar (formerly Burma) but many across the world who have had the pleasure of enjoying this amazing dish. Made on special occasions on account of its grandeur, this dish once had, can build an enormous appetite the next time you or someone else cooks it.
Why I Love Ohn No Khao Swe
Ohn No Khao Swe is simply of my favorite dishes of all time. Everything about it is grand and it has been in my favorites list and a favorite in my family for as long as I can remember. The very thought of the coconut chicken gravy with the noodles and the condiments makes my mouth water even as I write this.
The gravy has a mellowed spiciness with the chicken and dried prawns adding to its incredibly aromatic and supremely flavorful taste. This when coupled with the noodles creates a dish that is beyond compare. The condiments are another speciality that enhances the Ohn No Khao Swe dish many times over - somehow I cannot imagine having this dish without these condiments which add to the richness of the Ohn No Khao Swe in their own special ways.
So, what are we waiting for, let's launch into the recipe right away.
- 250 gms noodles
- ½ ltr can coconut milk
- 4 tbsp gram flour (besan)
- 300 gms chicken (with bones), or 250 gms boneless chicken
- 2 tbsp dry prawns (or 8-10 small fresh prawns)
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 5 eggs
- 3 medium sized onions
- 4 small sized onions
- 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 1 lime
- 50 gms coriander leaves
- 2 sprig of spring onion
- 6 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp chilly powder
- 2 red chillies
- 4 garlic cloves
- 20 gms rice noodles
Preparing the Noodles –
1. Boil the 250 gms of noodles in approx 1 ½ ltr of water for 5-7 minutes.
2. Strain the water from the noodles.
3. Put the noodles under cold running water for a minute. This stops the cooking process as we do not want the noodles to be overdone.
4. After draining this water, coat the noodles with 1 tbps of oil (by hand). This is done to separate the noodle strands, or else they tend to coalesce, ie stick to it each other.
Preparation for the Coconut Gravy –
1. Separate 250 ml of the 500 ml canned coconut milk. Keep aside (and we'll refer to this in the Instructions as the 'thick coconut milk').
2. Into the remaining 250 ml of coconut milk, add 500 ml of water (which we'll refer to in our Instructions as 'thin coconut milk').
3. Add the gram flour to the 'thin milk' and mix thoroughly. This when heated (which we'll see in the Instructions section), thickens the gravy.
4. Make a paste of 2 medium sized onions in a blender.
5. Peel the 4 small sized onion and leave them whole
6. Cut 4 boiled eggs longitudinally and keep aside.
7. Boil the 300 gms of chicken pieces and debone it to your preference. If you're using the boneless chicken, use diced chunks (sized according to your preference) and boil it. You may add the water leftover from the boil to the gravy - I always use this chicken soup/broth and add it to my gravy (refer to those instructions if you choose to add the chicken broth). Obviously this adds the chicken flavor to the gravy.
8. Soak dry prawns in water for 15 minutes and cut into half. If you're using fresh prawns, shell them.
9. Finely cut the spring onions (bulb and the leaves).
Instructions for making the Coconut Chicken gravy -
1. Heat 4 tbps of oil in a heavy bottomed pot and fry the onion paste until it becomes transparent.
2. Add ginger and garlic paste.
3. Add your deboned or boneless chicken and softened dry prawn pieces (or your fresh prawns).
4. Fry for 5 minutes.
5. Add the thin coconut milk which was earlier mixed with gram flour. You may add the chicken soup/broth leftover after boiling the chicken. As mentioned in the preparation for the gravy, the broth adds the chicken flavor to the gravy. And we all want some of that, don't we.
6. Stir thoroughly and add the peeled whole onions. You will see why we do this when the gravy is done - the whole onions soak up the gravy and taste awesome, not to mention the sweetness that is inherent in the onions themselves.
7. Add salt and chilly powder to it - this is of course, according to your taste.
8. Add the longitudinally cut boiled eggs and fish sauce.
9. Boil the gravy till the whole onions are tender.
10. Add the 250 ml of thick coconut milk. This is added late in the cooking process as its inherent richness need not be tampered with - we really want the thick coconut milk's flavor to be enhanced and thus infused into the gravy - adding it early would result in overcooking the thick coconut milk and we wouldn't want that.
11. Add spring onions and boil for 10 minutes and switch the flame off. The spring onions are added late here for the same reason as the thick coconut milk - you want to enhance the spring onion's inherent flavor in the gravy and not to overcook it.
12. The Coconut Chicken gravy is now ready to be served with the noodles.
Condiments you can enjoy with Ohn No Khao Swe
These condiments are supposed to be ready in separate, small bowls for serving onto the Ohn No Khao Swe.
Garlic Oil -
1. Pour 2 tbsp oil in a pan and heat on a slow flame
2. Slice the 4 garlic cloves finely and add to the heated oil
3. When the garlic turns golden brown, switch off the flame
4. Pound the red chillies coarsely and add it to the hot garlic oil
1. Chop 1 medium sized onion finely (tiny cubes)
Coriander Leaves -
1. Chop finely
1. Cut the lemon into 4 pieces
1. Cut 1 boiled egg into medium sized cubes
Rice Noodles -
1. Fry the rixe noodles in oil and keep aside
For Serving -
Take a shallow dish or bowl. Put a handful of the noodles into it and add the coconut chicken gravy and use the condiments according to your preference (as toppings) and trust me, they really enhance the flavor of the dish. My tip for you on how to enjoy these condiments would simply be to first try the noodles with the awesome gravy, enjoying its magnificence to the fullest, and then add these condiments according to how much you want - else you can add the condiments from the get go.
Enjoy this delicious Ohn No Khao Swe
For as long as I can remember, I have held such an incredible appreciation and love for this dish and now I feel that I want to share it with all of you and I am hoping that you would give it a try. This much I can be certain of, if you do try it and make it just the way I have described it above, you will be bowled over. Its one of my favorite dishes and I hope it will be one of yours too.