spinach & lemons

spinach bamboo curry

a good substitute for roselle leaves

I had a wonderful dinner last night at a local restaurant called Fish Face in Sydney. I adore seafood and the fish there was beautifully fresh. I was eating a crispy-skin snapper topped with spinach and preserved lemons when I thought about chin maung kyaw – roselle leaf curry. The spinach and lemon combination reminded me of the dish, a good substitute when roselle leaves are unavailable.

The great thing about Burmese food is I can always cook something that will satisfy my longing for ‘chin chin, ngan, ngna, sut sut.’ – sour, salty and spicy.


a large bunch English spinach
100ml peanut oil
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
3 whole dried chillies, soaked in hot water
or chilli flakes
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
50g canned bamboo shoots, sliced
1 lemon, juiced
fish sauce to season


a few green chillies
handful of dried shrimp

Give the spinach a thorough wash and cut into manageable lengths. Pound the onions, garlic and dried chillies into a coarse paste in a pestle and mortar or chop everything very finely.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion paste over moderate heat, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes. When it is soft and caramelised, add the turmeric and stir for a minute. If you’re using green chillies and dried shrimp, add them now.

Add the spinach and stir with a wooden spoon until the leaves have wilted. Mix in the bamboo shoots and lemon juice. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the leaves have turned dark green and the liquid has reduced. Season with fish sauce and taste. There should be a good balance of sourness, salt and spiciness.

serves: 2
cooking time: 25-35 mins

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  1. Nyunt on November 4, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Chin Baung Kyaw is my favorite dish. Roselle leaves are not easily available in the West. Now I can cook it with Spinach substitute. Many thanks to you.

  2. Phoo Pwint on January 13, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    many many many many and many thankssssss!!!
    i’ve been really wanting to know how to cook that in England cuz I can’t find any roselle leaves in the grocery at all…
    now, i can cook it for my friend who loves this..

    thanks a maximillion!!

  3. Cho on May 20, 2009 at 1:11 am

    Hi Phoo Pwint

    If you live in London, look for roselle leaves at Brixton market (sour sour leaves) or go down to the grocery store in Brick Lane as they also eat it in Bangaldesh.

    – Cho

  4. Cynthia on February 9, 2010 at 3:51 am

    I’m so surprised that you use spinach for this dish because I use spinach as well.

  5. pauline on September 9, 2010 at 11:26 am

    hello, im in love with burmese sour curry, and i believe the roselle leaves are the ingrediant in it. my friends mum makes it and i love it so much. now i really want to find an original recipe of the with the roselle leaves and the shrimp stuff in it because i would like to learn how to make a good burmese sour curry, i dont want a subsitute. can anyone help me as i crave this curry often.

  6. kyaw on June 24, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Yes,it is good and really I like this curry or chin boun kyaw.