My favorite curry powders, such as Sun Brand, which is sold in the spice section of many grocery stores, list coriander as the first ingredient; the spice imparts lovely citrusy sweet notes.

Use potato starch for a pretty sheen, which will make the filling look more appetizing when you bite into the bao (see this recipe for basic bun dough ingredients and directions). Feel free to try other kinds of ground meat or meat substitutes.

Make Ahead: The filling needs to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes, and up to 4 days in advance.

Where to Buy: Madras curry powder can be found in Indian markets and online.


  • 8 ounces ground dark-meat chicken
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon potato starch or cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallot (about 1 medium) or yellow onion
  • One 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, chopped (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Madras-style curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons water
  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil or another neutral oil
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and stems

Step 1

Combine the chicken, sugar and salt in a bowl. Whisk together the potato starch or cornstarch and coconut milk in a liquid measuring cup.

Step 2

Combine the shallot or onion, ginger, garlic, curry powder and water in a small food processor and process until a smooth paste forms.

Step 3

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the curry paste mixture and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes, until darkened and richly fragrant. Add the chicken and gently cook, mashing and stirring into small pieces, for about 3 minutes, until just cooked through.

Step 4

Re-whisk the coconut milk mixture, then pour into the pan; cook, stirring for about 30 seconds, until thickened. Let cool for 2 to 5 minutes, then stir in the cilantro. Taste, and season with more salt and/or sugar, as needed.

Step 5

Spread the filling out on a plate; refrigerate, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, stirring midway, to cool completely before using or storing.

From cookbook author Andrea Nguyen.

Tested by Toni L. Sandysemail questions to

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Calories: 35; Total Fat: 2 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 10 mg; Sodium: 35 mg; Carbohydrates: 1 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 0 g; Protein: 2 g.