Burmese-Inspired Shan Tofu Salad (Tohu Thoke)

Tofu salad on a white plate with mason jars of shallot oil and tamarind dressing in the back

What is Shan Tofu? 

Tofu entered the kitchens and cultural-consciousness of the white western world largely as a curdled-soy-milk-based protein replacement of the 1960s culinary counter-culture. It was a culture that combined the tenets of various then-radical health-food movements with then-unfamiliar Asian and Middle-Eastern ingredients like brown rice, miso and yogurt, and a conviction that eating could be a political act, especially in choosing not to eat meat. Tofu. Hippie food. 

Shan tofu is tofu of a different variety. It is made from chickpea flour (also known as Besan or gram flour), water, salt, and a little turmeric for colour, if you’re feeling fancy. It has a smooth, silky texture and a deeper, nuttier flavour than soy-based tofu. It is firm enough to be substantial, and maintains its silky, gelatinous texture well when saved as leftovers. Shan, or chickpea, tofu is also great for anyone who is allergic to, or is otherwise avoiding, soy. It is often used as the main ingredient of a salad - like this one - or deep fried and eaten as a snack.

Diptyque. Overhead shan tofu salad close-up on the left, tray of peanuts, peppers and cilantro on the right

Myanmar and Shan Cuisine

The word “Shan” refers to a group of indigenous peoples that make up the majority population of what is now known as the Shan state of North-East Myanmar (formerly Burma), that borders China, Laos and Thailand. Shan state is a geopolitical designation, an imaginary dividing line imposed around a territory containing many smaller groups of Shan peoples and other ethnic minorities by the British during a colonial occupation that began in the late 1800s and ended in 1948. Borders are often relics of former colonial rule and are, consequently, artificial and arbitrary, as untrustworthy in their value as symbols as they are inescapable in their political consequence. They obfuscate the ethnic, religious and cultural diversity that exists both within and across them. Shan cuisine, like the more general category of Burmese cuisine, is made of many culinary influences including those from the neighbouring countries of China, India and Thailand - themselves regions possessed of vastly diverse cuisines. 

Shan tofu salad overhead shot

I’ve never been to Burma. What I gather from Burmese cookbooks is that its salads tend to consist of one main ingredient, a dressing, and little else. Meals themselves are commonly structured around a main dish - a curry or noodle soup - rice, and a big selection of other small dishes, all brought to the table at once, including a variety of single-ingredient salads and various condiments. If you are likewise unfamiliar with this style of eating, google images of a Burmese meal. You will see sprawling tables of small bowls, each filled with a different dish. Its an appealing way to eat - but one that seems intimidatingly unmanageable for the average weekday meal. At least, that is, for anyone with a meat-and-potatoes culinary comfort zone, like me.

And so I have made some changes to the traditional versions of this salad that I have tried. I’ve added a substantial amount of cabbage and greens, making the Shan tofu one ingredient and one texture among many, rather than the sole focus of the dish. This is something I’m likely to cook for myself on an average weeknight and incorporate into my repertoire as opposed to reserving it for a special “I’m cooking a Burmese feast” kitchen project. I don’t feel like I have time to make several small dishes for dinner, or perhaps I just lack the necessary foresight and organizational skills. In any case, for me, turning Shan tofu salad into a stand-alone meal makes its Burmese flavours and ingredients more accessible. 

Shan tofu salad side shot

Shan Tofu Salad

This salad is adapted from the more-traditional versions found in Naomi Duguid’s Burma and Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy’s Burma Superstar. I loved Duguid’s salad, but I wanted to make it more substantial. Sour flavours - balanced with heat and funk - are one of the draws of Burmese cuisine. When I tried the Shan tofu salad from Burmese Superstar I was blown away by the complexity of its sour flavours. While I had been relying on lime juice and vinegar for that sour punch in earlier versions of this salad, Burma Superstar’s version uses both a tamarind dressing and raw onion slices quick-pickled in lime juice. I incorporated the tamarind dressing and raw onion technique into my version below, though I’ve replaced the onion with the more subtle shallot.

Clode=up Shan tofu salad with a large spoon

Burmese-Inspired Shan Tofu Salad (Tohu Thoke)

Silky-smooth creamy chickpea tofu, crunchy cabbage and peanuts, sour and bright tamarind dressing, and sweet caramelized shallots. This Burmese-inspired chickpea tofu salad, meant to be eaten cold, is refreshing but substantial enough to be a full meal. Once you prep a few items on the stovetop (that can be done ahead and saved for other uses), it is quick to throw together and there is no need to turn on the oven! You can serve this salad as a side, but I like to eat it as a stand-alone meal for lunch or a summer dinner.

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Ingredients:
    Shan Tofu
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
  • 3 cups water

  • Dressing
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 2 1/2 ounces tamarind pulp
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Salad
  • 1 1/4 cups canola oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced (on a mandoline) shallots
  • 1/2 Shan Tofu Recipe
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 1/2 Teaspoon dried chile flakes
  • 1 bunch greens (chard, kale, spinach etc), washed and chopped into thin strips.
  • 4 handfulls of Peanuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped Cilantro
  • 1/3 – ½ small cabbage, shredded on a mandoline (about 2 - 2 1/2 cups)

Instructions:
  1. Place 1/4 cup of the raw sliced shallots into a small bowl. Squeeze lime over the top. Stir to coat. Set aside.

  2. CARAMELIZE SHALLOTS: Place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl or glass measuring cup. Line a large plate with paper towels. Set both aside. In a large saucepan, heat canola oil over medium heat. Drop a shallot into the oil, if bubbles immediately form around the shallot the oil is hot enough. Carefully lower the rest of the shallots into the oil. Lower the heat to low and fry, stirring frequently so they do not burn, until shallots are deep golden brown (30-40 minutes). Pour the shallots and oil through the fine mesh strainer, separating the shallots from the oil. Set the shallot oil aside and arrange the shallots in a single layer on the paper-towel lined plate. They will crisp as they cool. You will have more oil than you need, store the remaining shallot oil in the refrigerator for up to two months and use as you would regular canola oil. Any leftover fried shallots will keep for one month in the refrigerator.

  3. MAKE SHAN TOFU. While the shallots are frying, coat an 8X4 inch loaf pan in a thin layer of oil. Sift the chickpea flour, salt, turmeric into a medium bowl. Add 1 cup of the water, whisk together and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Scrape flour mixture into a medium pot. Turn heat to low and stir in the remaining 2 cups of water. Stir continuously, making sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pot, until the mixture thickens - about 5-8 minutes. Pour tofu mixture into the prepared loaf pan, smooth top with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Allow to sit at room temperature as shallots finish cooking, until set. Tofu can be made 1-2 days ahead and will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

  4. MAKE DRESSING: place tamarind pulp into a small bowl. Pour the hot water on top. Allow to soak for 10 minutes. As the tamarind pulp soaks, use a spoon to break it up into the water. Pour through a fine mesh strainer, leaving the tamarind solids behind. Add the ginger, garlic, sugar and salt. This will make more dressing than you will need for one salad. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.

  5. SAUTE GREENS: heat a tablspoon of canola oil over medium heat. Add greens, season with salt and pepper and sautee just until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Set Aside.

  6. ASSEMBLE SALAD: Unmold the chickpea tofu. Divide in half. Save one half for another use (like this deep fried tofu snack) and slice the other half thinly. In a large bowl, toss together the shan tofu, caramelized and raw shallots with lime juice, greens, cabbage, chile flakes, cilantro, peanuts, 3 tablespoons of the shallot oil, and 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning or add more dressing if necessary. Serve salad at room temperature or cold.

Jerk Chicken Sandwiches

Two jerk chicken sandwiches on a plate with a striped tea towel

I am watching the Bon Appétit test kitchen Youtube videos. As I cook, as I clean, as I get ready for my shift at the bar. Every time I try to coax myself into spending my media-consumption time learning about the ways in which the bad-faith concept of fetal personhood is being used to abolish the human rights of actual living women, I watch Rick gloriously strut into the test kitchen. Slow Motion. Blue nail polish and patent shoes. I watch as he makes a brick red and glossy stewed pork in chili sauce. Every time I try to persuade myself that I should be paying attention to the emerging details of the concentration camps presently confining desperate refugees, many of them children who have been separated from their families, I watch Chris jog around the Bon Appétit offices pushing a cart of lightly-glazed sour-cream style yogurt donuts, fresh out of the frier. I watch as he delivers them to colleagues who, seated far from the test kitchen, rarely have the opportunity to taste its scraps and cast-offs. Whenever I am visited by a nagging sense that I should read that article, the one written by E. Jean Carroll. The one that unveils what is, sadly, merely the most recent example of the American president’s hatred, disrespect and abuse of women, I watch a series of videos in which the test-kitchen gang team up in pairs to create the perfect pizza, component-by-component.

Diptyque. Red Cabbage slaw on the left, One Jerk Chicken Sandwich on the Right

Last night I dreamed that the Bon Appétit test kitchen was housed on the second-story of an unassuming building in my neighbourhood. I walked by it, feigning nonchalance the way one might approach a celebrity sighting - attempting to get a closer look without appearing too eager or being intrusive. From the ground below I could see inside through the vast wall of windows. The open-concept floor plan. The rows of long kitchen benches. The succulents and bric-a-brac adorning the sill. I caught no glimpse of Rick or Chris or Carla or Molly. But I kept walking, content in the knowledge that they were all in there, somewhere, in my neighbourhood, attempting to determine the appropriate thickness of the caramel layer in a homemade gourmet twix bar. Giving Andy a good-natured ribbing for spending too much money on a t-shirt deliberately made with holes. Using words and phrases like “noods” (noodles), “fingies” (fingers) and “celebration station” with inexplicable effortless charm. The Bon Appétit test kitchen is a balm for a mind that is weary of the cavalcade of socio-political calamities that keep coming. Relentlessly. It has invaded my subconscious, set up shop as a magical place of solace where everyone is delightful, and everything is delicious. 

The Bon Appétit test kitchen is a balm for a mind that is weary of the cavalcade of socio-political calamities that keep coming. Relentlessly. It has invaded my subconscious, set up shop as a magical place of solace where everyone is delightful, and everything is delicious.
One Jerk Chicken Sandwich with a Lime Wedge on a White Plate with a Black Background

I have watched Molly Makes a Grilled Chicken Sandwich the most. The recipe is simple and unfussy. The ingredients and flavour profile are simple and classic - like a chicken caesar salad in a bun. Molly’s sandwich is the sort of quintessentially white Anglo-North-American food I often pass over, but with this sandwich I was enamoured. I decided I needed to make it, bought a family-pack of boneless chicken thighs (not a cut I often use), and tried my hand. The chicken was moist, the dressing was creamy with a briny tang from the cornichons, the lettuce and fennel slaw added a necessary crunch. Eating sandwiches for supper felt like a wonderful way to simplify, to take a break from filling my meal plans with restaurant-style dishes that contain multiple sub-recipes and take forever to cook, as I have a tendency to do. Molly’s sandwich was perfect, but I was inspired to create my own version. Sort of. 

Diptyque. Table of fruit and vegetables on the left, bowl of avocado slices on the right

These Jerk Chicken Sandwiches take from Molly’s recipe the simple, unfussy, spirit of a chicken sandwich, the cut of chicken and, sort of, the cooking method (Molly used a grill for her sandwiches, I use a cast iron pan, but the steps remain the same). As it turns out, though sandwiches are easy to make, they are not quick to develop. You need to perfect the flavour combinations, making sure that all of the elements work well on their own and are well balanced together: the marinade, the sauce, the slaw, the toppings. This recipe has that balance. The scotch bonnets in the marinade make the chicken fiery hot (use fewer if you don’t love heat), but the heat is balanced by the warming sweetness of the allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg, the fresh crunch of the cabbage slaw, the creaminess in both the slaw dressing and the avocado slices, and the tang of the barbecue sauce. You could smash the avocado with some lime, but slicing it makes the sandwich infinitely easier to eat.

A plate of pan-fried chicken thighs marinated in jerk marinade

I know that I cannot reside in the test-kitchen-world of pleasant, noncontentious, food media forever. I have been hiding there for some time - turning away from the unthinkable political realities that have been unfolding since that fateful 2016 election night in a way that only the relatively unaffected really can. It is enough to make anyone recoil. But part of my desire to look away stems from having recently left my PhD behind. It is what I am playfully calling “my transition period.” One that is characterized by the uncertainty of what I will do next, and of how to go about leading an intellectual life outside of and without the structures and credentials of academia. As confident as I am that my decision to leave was the right one, paying attention sometimes feels like a painful reminder of a kind of life that will not, as it turns out, be mine. 

Close-up of two jerk chicken sandwiches on a white plate with a lime wedge

As I made the final edits to this post, I decided it was time to catch up on some of the reading that I have been avoiding; take a baby step towards resuming engagement with current events and food media - not only the recipes and aesthetics of something like the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen, but also the culture and politics. Below are links to some of the best pieces I found, mostly from the month of June. Read one if you like, but when you are finished, balance it out by watching Molly make crispy smashed potatoes with walnut dressing.



Jerk Chicken Sandwiches

Serves: 4

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WHAT IS IN THIS IMAGE

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Ingredients:
    Jerk Chicken
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • spring onions, chopped (use the white part and most of the green)
  • 1 1/2 scotch bonnet chillies, finely chopped (use 2-3 if you want them really spicy)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4-6 chicken thighs

  • Barbecue Sauce
  • ⅔ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

  • Slaw
  • 1/2 large head of red cabbage (about 4 cups), sliced to 1/16th of an inch on a mandolin
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tb sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

  • 4 Hamburger buns
  • 2 Avocados, Flesh removed and sliced into strips

Instructions:

  1. 6 HOURS TO 1 DAY BEFORE SERVING: Grind the allspice berries and black peppercorns in a spice grinder. Add them to the bowl of a food processor, along with the cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, onions and chilies. Blend into a paste and mix in the sugar, salt, soy sauce and lime juice.

  2. Pour marinade into a large bowl and add the chicken thighs. Using your hands, work the marinade into the the skin of the chicken. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator from 6 hours to overnight.

  3. Make the BBQ Sauce: In a small saucepan, wisk together the ketchup, cider vinegar, brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 10 minutes. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Sauce can be made ahead - making it right after getting the chicken in the marinade, will save you a step during sandwich assembly - and will keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

  4. WHEN READY TO SERVE: Make the Slaw. Add the cabbage, red onion, sour cream, sugar, lime juice and cilantro to a medium bowl. Mix together until vegetables are evenly coated with dressing.

  5. Heat a large cast-iron skillet or pan over medium-high. Brush pan with oil. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the largest chicken thigh. When a drop of water placed into the pan sizzles, place the chicken thighs into the pan (working in batches if necessary), skin side down. Sear, without moving the chicken, until it easily lifts off the pan (about 4-6 minutes). Turn chicken and sear other side for another 4-6 minutes, about 8-12 minutes total, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 160-165 degrees. Remove the chicken from the skillet and rest for 5 minutes (the meat will come up to at least 165 as it rests).

  6. While chicken rests, turn the broiler on high. Place a cooling rack on top of a sheet pan, and spread the buns out onto it. Place sheet pan into oven and broil buns until toasted - about 2-3 minutes. Watch carefully during this step, as buns can very quickly go from browned to burnt.

  7. ASSEMBLE SANDWICHES: Spread bottom buns with some of the BBQ sauce, arrange avocado slices on top. Then add the chicken (if there are 6 thighs, cut 2 of them and divide the meat amoung the 4 sandwiches), then slaw, drizzle more BBQ sauce on top and add the top buns. Serve.

Jerk Marinade Slightly Adapted from The Guardian

BBQ Sauce Adapted from NYT Cooking

Creamy Coconut Chicken Curry with Eggplant

Bowl of coconut chicken curry with eggplant over rice with cilantro and lime wedges

This past week, tragedy struck my tomato seedlings. Six weeks prior I planted several flats of heirloom tomatoes including two varieties of beefsteak and a beautiful lobed variety I couldn’t wait to see - costoluto genovese. Miraculously, every one of them escaped the seemingly inevitable fate of damping off shortly after germination and I found myself in the unexpected position of having to thin the seedlings, rather than work with what remained. Granted, I was being somewhat overly-optimistic about how early my zone 6 weather would permit me to put tomatoes into the ground. Six weeks of growth by late May is pushing it for tomatoes. Nevertheless, they were lush, dark green, growing sturdy and tall. I was scrambling to re-arrange my grow light setup to make space for them. Everything was progressing beautifully.

Flat of tomato and pepper seedlings with rubber boots

And then I spotted it. The lowermost leaves of one or two of the seedlings were drooping and lifeless. Foolishly, before identifying the exact problem, I decided to treat it as I would a late blight, which generally occurs long after tomatoes have been transplanted. I snipped off the affected branches in hopes that the disease would not spread. It is always best to google these things first. The disease did spread, and what might have cost me only one or two plants, had I disposed of those infected immediately, spread to almost all of the tomato seedlings I had painstakingly cared for from seed. My eventual google search failed to identify the disease. * But the general rule seems to be that there is no cure for plant wilt that cannot be attributed to watering problems. They must all be disposed of. And, reluctantly, that is what I did. 

“bowls

Admittedly, I am being melodramatic. Yes, it was too late to restart tomatoes from seed, and I won’t be harvesting beautiful lobed tomatoes this year, but I was able to pick up new seedlings from a local nursery - including a yellow variety I wouldn’t have otherwise tried. It won’t be according to plan, but there will still be tomatoes. Once again, the garden reminds me of the importance of remaining flexible. Plan, yes. But allow that plan to shift, sometimes many times over, as the season progresses. In 5 short years of gardening, this has been an important but challenging lesson. Flexibility does not come naturally to me. I like to plan; to feel in control. Sometimes, for instance, when I am out shopping or running errands, and am unable to find just one thing on my list, I will turn around and go home, giving up on everything, abandoning all plans. But when you are gardening, no matter how detailed your site plan and planting calendar spreadsheet, unexpected, unplanned for things will happen. And the need for flexibility and improvisation is as unavoidable in the kitchen as it is in the garden.

“Bowl

One of my favourite ways to get inspired in the kitchen is to order cookbooks from the public library. I gravitate towards books with tons of beautiful photos - if I’m being honest, if there’s no photo, I don’t want to cook it - and those that are centred thematically around a single type of global cuisine. This is how I found myself incorporating Burmese cuisine into my culinary repertoire. First, I picked up Naomi Duguid’s Burma after seeing it featured in Food52’s 2013 piglet tournament of cookbooks, and later I picked up Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy’s Burma Superstar. Both books are beautiful and I’ve cooked several dishes from each. Still on my must-make list of Burmese food is mohinga, a noodle soup made with a whole fish, commonly sold in street stalls and eaten for breakfast, it is one of Burma’s most popular dishes with many regional variations; and Burma Superstar’s samusa soup - an ambitious dish made with both homemade samosas and homemade split pea falafel. But these recipes are “project food.” They contain long lists of ingredients and multiple sub-recipes. A tendency to gravitate towards project food is my kitchen nemesis. Most of the time, I need to cook something that won’t take all day to make.

“two

So I set out to make the coconut chicken curry from Burma Superstar. But things didn’t go as planned. It was basically a one-pot dish (plus rice) that would use up the chicken thighs I had leftover from recipe testing. But, I didn’t have nearly enough chicken, so I added some potatoes.  And, while the recipe called for paprika, all I had was smoked paprika. The smoked paprika overpowered the dish, lending it a meaty unctuousness that made the curry sauce reminiscent of a sausage gravy. Instead of giving up on the curry, abandoning all plans, I allowed the smoked paprika to steer the recipe below in an unusual direction for me: mild, smoky, cozy flavours balanced somewhat by fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime. I’ve switched the potatoes out with roasted eggplant for this version, to cut down on the number of starches in the dish and add more vegetables. This is not the sort of bold and spicy flavour profile I normally create. Just as not every meal can be a project, not every meal can be fiery hot - trust me, the jerk chicken sandwich recipe I have coming up has that covered. And sometimes, I need to remind myself, good things can come out of unexpected deviations from the plan, if you allow yourself to just go with it.


*Only the bottom leaves were affected, and they remained green and very soft as they wilted and drooped. If you know what this is, please tell me!


Creamy Coconut Chicken Curry with Eggplant

A mild creamy curry inspired by Burmese flavours that features boneless skinless chicken thighs and Chinese eggplant, made with a rich sweet and smoky coconut curry sauce, and finished with fresh cilantro and lime juice. Serve over rice or with your favourite flatbread - or both!

Makes: 4-6 servings

COCONUT CHICKEN CURRY WITH EGGPLANT IN A BOWL SERVED OVER RICE WITH NAAN BREAD

COCONUT CHICKEN CURRY WITH EGGPLANT IN A BOWL SERVED OVER RICE WITH NAAN BREAD

COCONUT CHICKEN CURRY WITH EGGPLANT IN A BOWL SERVED OVER RICE WITH NAAN BREAD

COCONUT CHICKEN CURRY WITH EGGPLANT IN A BOWL SERVED OVER RICE WITH NAAN BREAD

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound eggplant (about 3 long)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive (or canola) oil
  • 1 teaspoons salt (divided)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8)
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3 cups diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (3-4 large cloves)
  • 1 (13 1/2 ounces) can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 cup cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped, for serving
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

Instructions:

  1. To Roast the Eggplant: Preheat oven to 400F. Cut eggplants on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices. Drizzle slices with olive oil and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the salt on top. Toss to coat. Spread slices evenly across two parchment-paper-lined rimmed baking sheets. Roast until eggplant begins to brown on bottom, about 15 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the slices over and continue to roast about until eggplant is soft and has browned on both sides, about 10 more minutes. Remove eggplant from the oven and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, trim the excess fat from the chicken thighs (optional - I don’t bother), cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Place chicken in a medium-sized bowl and, mixing with your hands, coat with the smoked paprika, turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Let the chicken thighs marinate in the spices either at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the curry ingredients, or up to overnight. It is important to refrigerate the chicken if you will be marinating it for longer than 2 hours.
  3. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, lower heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently until the onions become translucent and soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Continue to cook for 5 more minutes.
  4. Add the chicken to the pot and stir the chicken and onions together to coat evenly with the spices. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes and lower the heat to medium-low. Add the fish sauce and water and bring the mixture back up to a boil.
  5. Adjust the heat so that the curry maintains a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes. Add the reserved eggplant slices, stir to combine and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and the eggplant begins to break down, about 25-30 more minutes. Stir in the curry powder.
  6. Temper the cream to avoid curdling as you add it to the sauce: pour the room-temperature cream into a glass measuring cup. Adding some of the curry sauce into the cream, a few tablespoons at a time, stirring to combine. Continue adding curry into the cream until the cream mixture is very warm, and stir it back into the curry. Taste the curry and add more salt or fish sauce, if necessary, to taste.
  7. Garnish each serving with cilantro and lime wedges and serve with rice and/or flatbreads. Allow leftovers to cool and store in the refridgerator for up to 3 days.

Heavily adapted from: Burma Superstar