Kerala-style Chicken Curry

Mallika Basu - Kerala-style Chicken Curry

Posted 21st November 2008


I’ve just had my last supper, i.e. the final Basu dinner party for a few months to come.

There are three good reasons for this. One, the festive season is about to start. Trying to get dates in diaries amidst Christmas parties, drunkenness, hangovers and more parties is virtually impossible. Two, I am fast growing into the female Hulk. Three, it’s no fun watching people get pissed.

I invited the group of Tuscany friends over, which included two of the grumpiest Scotsmen alive. One will eat what he’s served. The other will inspect it closely to make sure it’s worthy of consumption.

Initially, I toyed with the idea of serving the rainbow trout presented by our builder that was still tucked away in the freezer. I can clean fish, I convinced myself. Then I considered fishy fingernails. A kitchen smelling of the fish stall at the farmers market. Finally, a vision of the grumpy Scotsman unraveling my botched cleaning job flashed before my eyes.

Chicken curry it was. I picked a classic Kerala-style chicken curry that I knew would impress – coconut milk, curry leaves, baby onions and tender cubes of chicken. It was a huge success. His four helpings meant I had to cook it again to photograph it for this site.

A grand way to start a short but well-deserved break from entertaining large groups…


Feeds 4:

  • 500 gm chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 large onion
  • Half inch ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 4 baby onions or small shallots
  • 4 new potatoes
  • 200gm reduced fat coconut milk (half tin)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 2 green finger chillies
  • 4 tsp coriander powder
  • Half tsp chilli powder
  • Half tsp turmeric powder
  • Half tsp garam masala
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Chop the large onion finely, slice the tomato and cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a medium pan, bring the oil to heat over a high flame.

When it’s hot, add the fennel seeds and peppercorns and as they splutter mix in the onion, ginger and garlic. Fry this whole mixture for about five minutes until it starts going golden brown. Then chuck in all the spice powders apart from the garam masala.

Stir this vigorously for another five minutes and then mix in the chicken pieces. Brown the chicken on all sides, add the tomatoes, chillies and new potatoes in. Next pour in the coconut milk, lower the flame to a medium and let the chicken cook through.

In the meantime, peel the shallots or small onions. In a small pot, bring the remaining tablespoon of oil to heat on a high flame. When it’s hot, fry the curry leaves and shallots for a few seconds and mix into the chicken curry.

To finish, stir in the garam masala and some salt to taste and simmer the curry for two minutes until oil floats to the top.

12 responses to “Kerala-style Chicken Curry”

  1. Eeshani says:

    Ooh, yummy! Do you think low-fat coconut milk (perhaps in combination with a little Greek yogurt) would work, or does it have to be regular coconut milk? (BTW, your methi chicken recipe inspired me to grow my own fenugreek– in a pot for I live in the frigid American midwest. The leaves are almost ready to be used in curry!)

  2. Mallika says:

    You know I did actually use low fat coconut milk! The full fat version is like cooking with cream… I am so impressed about the methi!! Maybe I’ll try growing a pot here next year…

  3. indosungod says:

    Mallika! I am impressed you are still cooking for people. All I did was wait for people to invite me over. This chicken is sure to knock the socks off anybody even a grumpy Scot.

  4. Gregor says:

    I must have drunk far too much as I cannot recall there being 2 grumpy Scots present, only PR.
    And anyway I am fairly sure I only had 3 helpings, and this was as a result of my concern
    about your tupperware capacity rather than gluttony.
    p.s. The starters were excellent.

  5. Srivalli says:

    heheh…that sure looks fit to knock out guys!..:)

  6. mandira says:

    it looks delicious and perfect for any evening!

  7. Wendy says:

    Looks/sounds wonderful. Another bookmark.
    Not sure why I find the grumpy Scots so funny but I do. Thanks for making me chuckle before bed.
    Christ, it’s only 8.30 and I’m going to bed! Need light…

  8. Fear of judgement (from the dour Scots) bought positive gains (a fantastic dish). We should not dismiss disapproval as a driver!

    Fenugreek in a pot sounds good and ditto: light-starved…Roll on Dec 21.

  9. suchitra says:

    wonderful site! nice reading ur experience plus can know wonderful and exotic recipes ! thanks and keep it going !

  10. Silvara says:

    Hey Mallika, to date I have always been one of those people that venture into the kitchen only as a last resort – but I decided to overcome my fear and try my hand at cooking.

    I made this chicken curry (with a few exclusions and additions as I didn’t have all the ingredients and I decided to experiment) last week and I have to tell you it came out delicious!

    As a matter of fact, so well that the hubby berated ME for finishing off the leftovers and has requested me to make it again tonight 😀

    Thanks for a great receipe.

  11. taja says:

    This recipe sounds great and I’d really like to try my hand at it, but unfortunately I can’t get hold of curry leaves (Indian cuisine is not popular enough in Slovenia)… Is there any way I could replace them?


    Just leave them out and don’t call it Keralan! 😉 M x

  12. franimal says:

    Hi! This was amazing! I made it and love it, but over the course of cooking, I realize I have a few questions.
    – You mention a large onion in the ingredient list and in preparation paragraph 1. But then, I didn’t know when to add it to the dish.
    – In preparation paragraph 2, you mention ginger and garlic, but they aren’t in the ingredient list, so I didn’t know how much to include.

    I realize this is a very old post, and I apologize for my ignorance, but any help would be much appreciated!

    Oh my! That’s some level of typos! So sorry for the confusion, I have edited the post. Hope that helps! M x

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