We love Kawsay at my house. Kawsay or khow suey is a burmese dish made with meat and spaghetti in coconut milk. There are so many variations to the dish. Like a thai curry, you can make a red version or a green version, use noodles or spaghetti, chicken or lamb and the list goes on. This is not an authentic version.

3 bowls of Khou suey on a table

I first came across Kawsay at my inlaws house. See, i am indian but from a ‘bharuchi’ background and my husband is from a ‘surti’ background. It basically means that we are from different parts of India and the way we speak gujarati is different too. When i first got married, i hadn’t come across any  ‘bharuchi’ household making Kawsay but it was commonplace in ‘Surti’ households.

Kawsay is very often topped with coriander, onions, lemon and the fried pastry used to make samosas or samosa par.  This makes a crunchy and delicious topping.

I remember the first time we sat around the table and i attempted to eat kawsay without making a mess. My mother in law (and me now) like to use chicken on the bone in this dish. There are many complications to eating an on the bone spaghetti dish with a table full of people when you are new to a family. I slowly died inside when i watched my inlaws eat it so expertly and i was left staring at the bowl. Man i so wanted seconds, but it took me long enough to negotiate the first bowl. Mainly because i was trying to be elegant and It was like an obstacle course. Now, i can happily have a couple of bowls and I navigate the bowl like a pro.

Kawsay is delicious. It is delicately spiced and subtle in flavour and i love to add extra chillies to mine! It is like an infused coconut broth with chicken and spaghetti.

It is also very easy to make. Yesterday i made it in our back garden over a camping style gas fire!

Today we have woken up to the news of a new baby in the family! My husbands sister had a baby boy. I love how precious new babies are. It’s a magical although challenging time. It is also my sisters first wedding anniversary today and my nephews birthday! So a happy day all round.

We had a restless night yesterday with the excitement of visitors and i don’t think any of us have had  a decent nights sleep so I think i might sneak off and get me some sleep mid day with or without the kids.

I do hope you enjoy this dish. We sometimes use whole wheat spaghetti instead of normal spaghetti. If you do the same, the flavours need a lot more time to ‘mingle or develop. So after the par cooked spaghetti goes in, turn the heat right down and allow it to steep and cook in the sauce a little longer.

To make an authentic version, you would need to use chicken thighs and remove the meat off the bones then process till the pieces are smaller but nowhere near ground. You would use Thai coconut cream and not coconut milk. They also use turmeric, paprika,ginger, quite a bit of fish sauce and gram flour within the broth. This is a recipe i got via a burmese blogger. The authentic version is absolutely delicious too!

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Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Servings 8


  • 500 g Spaghetti
  • 2 large onions diced
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • One whole chicken cleaned and cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 - 7 green chillies I use 7
  • 1 cm ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • A good handful coriander leaves only
  • 1 tsp mint leaves Optional
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
  • 1 Lemon


  1. Make the spaghetti according to the pack instructions but reduce the time by half.
  2. Drain the spaghetti and pour a tbsp of olive oil over the top to stop it from sticking together.
  3. In a large non stick pan over medium/high heat, cook the onions in the oil until golden brown. This takes about 10 - 15 minutes.
  4. Whilst the onions are cooking, in a food processor, add chillies, ginger, garlic, coriander, mint (If using), cumin and salt and pepper. Blend to a paste.
  5. Once the onions are cooked, pour the paste into the pot and add the chicken.
  6. Turn the heat down and cook for about 10 minutes so the chicken takes in the flavour of the masala. Stir occasionally during this time to make sure the mixture isn't sticking.
  7. Now pour over the coconut milk (including water).
  8. Bring to a boil, cover the pan and simmer gently for 15 - 20 minutes or until until the chicken is tender. (Cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken).
  9. Stir the spaghetti into the pot.
  10. Ladle into 6 bowls and squeeze a bit of lemon over the top.

Recipe Notes

You can add a variety of toppings to Kawsay, these include fried onions, red onion, coriander, fried pastry, chillies, boiled eggs, fried garlic.

You can also add 4 or 5 kafir lime leaves then you add the paste.


14 thoughts on “Kawsay or Khow suey – Chicken and spaghetti in coconut milk

  1. This sounds and looks so refreshing! I don’t have coconut milk curries very often – do you recommend the full fat canned kind, or would the cartoned kind do? I reckon subbing chickpeas or extra firm tofu for the chicken would be an ok veggie sub?

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