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
Keralan Chicken Curry

The use of coconut is what predominantly sets this chicken curry apart from other regional Indian curries. Traditionally the 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

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium white onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced finely
  • 1 inch ginger, diced finely
  • 1/2 tbsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed finely
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 8-10 curry leaves 
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 500g chicken breast, cut into medium sized pieces
  • 1/2 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, 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 breast pieces to the pan and coat well in the spice mix. Let the curry come to a gentle simmer and cook for 8-12 minutes, or until the chicken pieces have cooked thoroughly.


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


5. Remove from the heat. Finish by sprinkling in some flaked sea salt and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.


Tips for making the best Chicken Curry

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

Spices: Fennel Seeds – If you struggle to find fennel powder, do not fret. Just 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. If you don’t have either tools, use a rolling pin to gently crush the seeds

Spices: 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 to the gravy.

Frying 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. Failing that, omitting curry leaves entirely will still produce a delightful curry. You can add more chopped coriander for an added herbaceous freshness.


Cooking with chicken breast

Once added to the curry, cover the pan with a lid and allow the chicken curry to gently simmer. The build-up of steam created will cook the chicken in 8-12 minutes. Though this will entirely depend on how large or small the chicken pieces are. 

A good rule to use is that 1-2 minutes after the chicken pieces have turned a creamy orange, cut into one to check its readiness. Its most perfect state is when it’s on the cusp of being done. But don’t worry! When the coconut milk is added, the final 1-2 minutes of cooking will cook the chicken perfectly.  

To retain the fresh creamy flavour of the coconut milk, once it has been added, let the curry come to a simmer and cook for another minute or two.


Cooking with other cuts of chicken

This recipe has been adapted so it uses chicken breast in the preparation of the curry. However, traditionally the whole chicken would have been used. It would be chopped into small pieces along with its skin and bones and added to the curry. This adds a further depth of flavour to the dish. 

If you prefer preparing the dish this way, just extend the cooking time of the chicken to 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken has completely cooked through. 


Resting the curry

Yes, Resting the curry! Once you have finished cooking the curry, let the curry stand (covered with a lid) for 10-15 minutes before serving. As a result, the meat will relax and become more tender. It will also ensure that all the flavours fully mingle with one another.


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 Dal Curry

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 also.


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. Too long and the chicken will get overcooked and dry out. 

For a longer storing period, you can freeze the chicken curry in an airtight container for 1 month. Allow the curry to defrost completely before following the reheating method above.


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Keralan Chicken Curry

Recipe by George AlexanderCourse: MainCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

3

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

15

minutes
Calories

400

kcal
Method

Stovetop

Total time

35

minutes

Warming to taste, lightly spiced and naturally sweet, this comforting keralan chicken curry is Indian comfort food at its best!

Ingredient

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

  • 2 medium white onions, sliced thinly

  • 2 garlic cloves, diced finely

  • 1 inch ginger, diced finely

  • 1/2 tbsp kashmiri chilli powder

  • 1/2 tbsp coriander powder

  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed finely

  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder

  • 8-10 curry leaves 

  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped

  • 500g chicken breast, cut into medium sized pieces

  • 1/2 cup thick coconut milk

Directions

  • 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, 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 breast pieces to the pan and coat well in the spice mix. Let the curry come to a gentle simmer and cook for 8-12 minutes, or until the chicken pieces have cooked thoroughly.
  • Finally pour in 1/2 cup of thick coconut milk and simmer for a final minute, just until the curry begins to bubble. If the gravy looks a little thick, add just enough hot water to loosen the gravy a little.
  • Remove from the heat. Finish by sprinkling in some flaked sea salt and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Nutrition Facts

3 servings per container


Calories400

  • Amount Per Serving% Daily Value *
  • Total Fat 20g 31%
    • Saturated Fat 15g 75%
  • Cholesterol 94mg 32%
  • Sodium 127mg 6%
  • Amount Per Serving% Daily Value *
  • Potassium 321mg 10%
  • Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
    • Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
    • Sugars 9g
  • Protein 44g 88%
  • Vitamin A 10%
  • Vitamin C 31%
  • Calcium 9%
  • Iron 8%

* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Notes

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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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.

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