Keralan Chicken Curry

“This keralan chicken curry is warming to the taste and delicately spiced. It is Indian comfort food at its best!”

Keralan chicken curry in a bowl with a garnish of coriander

The use of coconut milk and curry leaves is what sets this chicken curry apart from other regional Indian curries. 

Traditionally the chicken curry would be made from ingredients that were easily sourced from one’s own backyard. So each Indian household would have their own take on the classic curry.

To that end, I have adapted my family’s recipe to create what I think is the most satisfying and more-ish chicken curry recipe out there. This curry is warming to the taste and delicately spiced. 

The addition of coconut milk adds a gorgeous creamy sweetness to the curry that complements the mix of spices perfectly. It is no wonder why Keralan chicken curry is Indian comfort food at its best!  


Ingredients

  • 500 g boneless chicken thighs, cut into medium sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium white onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 inch ginger, chopped finely
  • 1/2 tbsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed finely
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 10-12 curry leaves 
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup thick coconut milk

(* 1 Tsp = 5ml, 1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 Cup = 250 ml)


How to make Keralan Chicken Curry

1. Over a medium flame, heat coconut oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Once the oil has warmed, add the onions along with a large pinch of salt and sauté until the onions begin to soften. Next add the ginger and garlic and sauté for a further 1-2 minutes, just until their rawness has cooked out.


2. Now add the kashmiri chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, crushed fennel seeds, cumin powder, garam masala powder and curry leaves to the pan. Gently sauté the spices for 30-60 seconds, and within a minute the spices should begin to release their aromas.


3. Next add the diced tomatoes and sauté them until they have completely disintegrated into the onion spice mix. Then, add the chicken thigh pieces to the pan and coat well in the spice mix. Cover with a lid and let the curry come to a gentle simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken pieces have cooked thoroughly.


4. Pour in 1/3 cup of thick coconut milk and simmer for a final 1-2 minutes, just until the curry begins to bubble. If the gravy looks a little thick add just enough hot water to loosen the gravy.


5. Remove from the heat and finish by sprinkling in some flaked sea salt if required.


Tips for making the best Keralan Chicken Curry

Oils – Coconut oil is preferred to get that authentic keralan taste.

Fennel Seeds – Lightly dry roast fennel seeds in a pan until they release a sweet aroma. Next grind or pound the seeds to crush them into a powder.

Kashmiri chilli powder – Kashmiri chilli powder tends to have less heat than other chilli powders. On top of that, this variety will also give the gravy a deep and bright red colour.

Sautéing the spices – When adding the powdered spices, the flame should be emitting a low-medium heat. Too high and the spices will burn and give the chicken curry a bitter taste.

Fresh curry leaves – Ideally you should use fresh curry leaves, and depending on where you live, you will be able to source this from most well stocked supermarkets or asian stores. However, if you’re unable to get them you can also use dried curry leaves.


Using a whole chicken

Traditionally when preparing a keralan chicken curry, a whole chicken would be chopped into small pieces along with its skin and bones, and added to the curry.  This method adds a depth of flavour which takes this curry to the next level. 

If you choose to prepare the curry this way, then you will need to cook the chicken curry for around 30-35 minutes, or until the chicken has completely cooked through.


Resting the curry

Yes, resting the curry! Once you have finished cooking the curry, let it stand, still covered with a lid, for at least 10-15 minutes before serving. The meat will relax and it will ensure that all the flavours penetrate into the chicken.


Ideas for accompanying dishes

Short on ideas for what you could have alongside this Keralan Chicken Curry recipe? Why not check out some of these vegetarian recipes. They will make a great accompaniment to this dish!

Potato and Cauliflower Curry (Aloo Gobi)

Fried Cabbage (Cabbage Thoran)

Keralan Dhal Curry

Vegan Green Lentil and Spinach Curry


What to serve with your Chicken Curry

When putting your meal together, some easy staples can be added to elevate it. For instance, the chicken curry can be poured over naan bread, roti, paratha or plain rice. 

Similarly, a tablespoon of greek yogurt over your rice will add a coolness and tang that will contrast well with the creamy coconut curry. 

Other simple additions like a teaspoon of your favourite chutney or pickle will add a delightful sweet tartness.


How to store your Chicken Curry

You can refrigerate the leftover chicken curry in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days. 

When reheating, only simmer for as long as it’s required to bring it back up to temperature. This should only take 4-5 minutes. 

For a longer storing period, you can freeze the chicken curry in an airtight container for 3 months. Allow the curry to defrost completely before following the reheating method above.


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Keralan Chicken Curry

Keralan Chicken Curry

Warming to taste, lightly spiced and naturally sweet, this comforting keralan chicken curry is Indian COMFORT FOOD at its best!
AuthorGeorge Alexander
PREP TIME20 minutes
COOK TIME20 minutes
TOTAL TIME40 minutes
Servings3 (servings)
CourseMain Course
CuisineIndian
KeywordIndian Chicken Curry Indian Chicken Recipes Keralan Chicken Curry
Calories400 kcal

Ingredients

  • 500 g boneless chicken thighs (cut into medium sized pieces)
  • tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium white onions (sliced thinly)
  • 2 garlic cloves (choped finely)
  • 1 inch ginger (chopped finely)
  • 1/2 tbsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (crushed finely)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 1 large tomato (roughly chopped)
  • 1/3 cup thick coconut milk

Instructions

  • Over a medium flame, heat coconut oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Once the oil has warmed, add the onions along with a large pinch of salt and sauté until the onions begin to soften. Next add the ginger and garlic and sauté for a further 1-2 minutes, just until their rawness has cooked out.
  • Now add the kashmiri chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, crushed fennel seeds, cumin powder, garam masala powder and curry leaves to the pan. Gently sauté the spices for 30-60 seconds, and within a minute the spices should begin to release their aromas.
  • Next add the diced tomatoes and sauté them until they have completely disintegrated into the onion spice mix. Then, add the chicken thigh pieces to the pan and coat well in the spice mix. Cover with a lid and let the curry come to a gentle simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken pieces have cooked thoroughly.
  • Pour in 1/3 cup of thick coconut milk and simmer for a final 1-2 minutes, just until the curry begins to bubble. If the gravy looks a little thick add just enough hot water to loosen the gravy.
  • Remove from the heat and finish by sprinkling in some flaked sea salt if required.

Nutrition

Calories: 400kcal (20%) Carbohydrates: 15g (5%) Protein: 44g (88%) Fat: 20g (31%) Saturated Fat: 15g (94%) Cholesterol: 94mg (31%) Sodium: 127mg (6%) Potassium: 321mg (9%) Fiber: 4g (17%) Sugar: 9g (10%) Vitamin A: 10IU Vitamin C: 31mg (38%) Calcium: 9mg (1%) Iron: 8mg (44%)

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #pestleandspiceuk.

If you love this comforting keralan chicken curry, then why don’t you check out our other delicious meaty recipes? Like this yummy chargrilled indian chicken kebabs.

Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for the latest recipes and follow along on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest!

Recipes referenced in the making of this keralan chicken curry recipe: chicken curry from my family recipe, nadan kozhi curry 1 from yellowthyme and nadan kozhi curry 2 from alittlebitofspice.


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6 Comments

  1. Guys, Thanks For sharing this Great Recipe. My Family Loved it. I am definitely sharing this recipe and this website with my friend. Hope they also love it. Thank you again for sharing such a great recipe.

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