Burmese Cookery – Kayan Style Whole Chicken Baked in Mud!

Needless to say this recipe uses unusual cooking methods – although not so rare in villages in the countryside from where it hails. I suspect most of you will not be recreating this at home. I’ve documented this for interest and to broaden minds. Though, please do not be deterred if you wish to try it out. It is not difficult to prepare should you have the ingredients and mud! However, some forward planning will be required as it takes 7-8 hours to cook. I will say, unquestionably, the finished chicken is outstanding!

Clockwise from l – r ; limes leaves, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, sawtooth leaf.

The film for Chicken Baked in Mud is taken at Kayan Ala Restaurant, cooked by a young chef Zaw from the same state. It melts in your mouth after about 8 hours of slow cooking in an outdoor oven. Below is the recipe. You can replicate this dish and achieve the same results at home using your domestic oven – without the use of mud!


  • Small handful sawtooth leaf /herb finely shredded (see notes below)
  • Small handful of lime leaves finely shredded
  • 3 or 4 stems lemongrass finely sliced
  • 4 inches of peeled ginger sliced
  • 10 fat cloves garlic sliced
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground Mat-khar spice/pepper (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon whole Mat-khar spice/pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole chicken including giblets (use only hearts, livers, gizzards and REMOVE anything with bones such as the neck) (see notes)
  • Enough sheets of banana leaves to cover the whole chicken (see notes)

Cooking Method;

  1. Place all 8 ingredients (everything except the chicken and banana leaves in a large pestle and pound until all of it combines into a course paste. It does not need to be fine.
  2. Mix the paste with the chopped chicken gizzards, livers and hearts. DO NOT USE anything with bones in it such as the neck.
  3. Rub some of the mixture over the outside of the chicken but mainly stuff as much as fits into the cavity of the chicken.
  4. Wrap the chicken in the banana leaves. Then wrap again with two layers of foil to ensure it is securely wrapped and all the juices will not escape.
  5. As it is highly unlikely you will have mud and or a pizza type oven in your garden  in which to cook your chicken in, I would recommend using the oven!
  6. Place in a preheated oven at gas mark 160-170 degrees centigrade or gas mark 3 – 4 for 8 hours. You could halve the time and it should still be moist inside.


  • Sawtooth leaf/herb is also known as Mexican Coriander or Vietnamese coriander. In Burma it is in fact known as Shan Coriander (in Burmese, Shan nan nan bin). You will most likely find these in a Chinese or Vietnamese Supermarket if you are lucky to have one in town.
  • Mat-khar is a sort of peppercorn found in Kayan State and can best be described as very similar to Sezchuan peppercorn in taste. You should use Sezchuan peppercorns to replace Mat-khar as I have no idea where you can find it here in the UK or elsewhere in the world!
  • Banana Leaves can be bought in Chinese or Vietnamese supermarkets. Failing this you could use several sheets of baking foil.
  • Chicken gizzards / innards – if these do not come with your chicken you can buy a small amount of chicken livers, enough to stuff the chicken. Clean them and chop up into small pieces.

Dah-beh! (That’s it!)

In case you missed it, I wrote an earlier blog reviewing the Beautiful Kayan Ala Restaurant Cuisine. 

Find out more about Kayan Ala Restaurant here.

Help – Does anyone know about mat-khar pepper? Please let me know. I’d like to know more about it. Thanks! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s