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Coconut Chicken Curry

A wide white bowl with coconut chicken curry pieces with Kafir lime leaves on top

It was particularly dark and chilly outside this week, and hubby and I required some comfort food. So, I made this nourishing Coconut Chicken curry. It was based on a recipe we made at work years ago. I loved it then, and thought I might have a go at recreating it. After rummaging through my spice draw, this is what I came up with, using the ingredients I had on hand. It’s another quick meal, which I hope you’ll love it as much as we did.

Ingredients used in this chicken curry:

  • Curry leaves- They’re amazing; I love their flavour; I even have a tree (well, its more of a bush) in the backyard. In summer, it’s covered in clusters of tiny white flowers, which end up being berries. Don’t eat the berries. They won’t kill you, but the seeds might. Oh, and the berries don’t taste great either.
  • The masala – this means the “spice blend”.
  • Dried chillies – although this is a curry and I like it warm it’s up to you if you how many you want to use and the variety you use. Trust me though don’t ask the Indian grocer which dried chilli is the mildest. I’m not sure if they’re joking, but they always seem to give me hot ones. ??? Just buy a few different ones and try them, that’s all you can do. Kashmiri chillies are warm but they’re not as hot as some, they also give you that wonderful red colour you see in some recipes.
  • Turmeric – Apparently this is good for you, and we should stick it in everything we can. But hey, I’m not a Doctor so don’t listen to me. It’s a nice flavour and colour though. ?Fenugreek seeds – these have an unusual flavour. I find their smell not unlike fresh alfalfa sprouts. I hope that helps. Coriander seeds and cumin seeds – I like to think of these two as balancing spices. They will help balance out the flavours of your curries. Coriander seeds don’t taste like fresh coriander, so if you’re a fresh coriander hater, you might like to test if you like the seeds before discarding them.
  • Cracked peppercorns or 1 tsp of whole peppercorns. Fresh is always best, with any spice.
  • Dried garlic granules – I use these rather than powder these days. I made my own powder once and it set like concrete, so I figure they’re using something in those little jars to stop it from doing that. I don’t want whatever it is. I’ve also made dried garlic slices and they didn’t stick together too much. Bonus.
  • Desiccated coconut – non sweetened. I know some countries sell sweetened coconut, don’t use that or I think this dish would be weird, find non sweetened desiccated. ? For the grinding of this blend we do the spices first then add the coconut and grind a bit more. Some of the spices need that little extra blitz. So grind the spice first, then add the coconut. ?
  • Onions – Common brown ones here work great. Frying them off at the start does two things.
    • It makes a handy garnish to use on the dish at the end.
    • The rest you add into the sauce, they add a lovely depth of flavour and a little sweetness to the dish.
  • Chicken – I like to use chicken thighs skin on for this. They’re hard to find these days, you usually have to ask the butcher for them. I trim the skin before frying.
  • Salt – it’s important to add salt to taste, especially in this dish. Without it, it can be quite bland. Get the balance right and you’ll love it.

Step By Step – for Coconut Chicken Curry

Fry pan with hot oil frying off onions.
Fry off the onions and curry leaf in hot oil
Toast the onions until golden brown.
Fry until golden brown and crisp
Golden brown onions draining on paper towel.
Once the onion is golden, remove it from the pan, and drain on a kitchen towel.
Onions and masala in a pan.
Add the remainder of the onions to the pan, along with the masala blend and then sauté.
Toasting off masala in a fry pan.
Toast until the masala is fragrant
Browning off chicken in a fry pan.
Push the masala and onions to the side of the pan and brown off the chicken (skin side down first)
Chicken thighs masala and water in a fry pan.
Add liquid to the pan, use a spatula to scrape off any stuck bits, then pop on a lid to cook the chicken through, add back some of the sweet onions you fried at the start. Leaving the remaining for garnish.
A white plate with Curry leaf coconut chicken topped with crispy onions.
Once the chicken is cooked through, remove the lid, reduce the sauce, plate up and enjoy

What would you serve with this chicken curry?

  • It goes well with this naan recipe.
  • Rice is also great I would choose basmati for this dish, Cumin Rice would be perfect
  • If I wanted something super quick I’d use something like this couscous.
  • But seriously, roast vegetables would give some balance to the meal.
  • I like steamed broccoli sprinkled with toasted almonds.

If you love spices you might like this

I make up my own spice blends without any non-essential shelf-stable additives. When I was doing my Cert 4 in Training and Assessment, one of our lessons and assessments was teaching people for distance education. Who would think this would come in so handy today for so many reasons.

Purchase by the 18th December for Xmas delivery

Anyway, I chose to do an introductory course on spices, where, how and why they’re used. I loved doing the research, talking to Chefs that originated from the middle east, Asia etc., staying all hours in the school library, and then training my five students online for my assessment.

Doing my Cert 4 in this subject taught me how to teach remotely, but I learned a lot more about spices and blends as well. And hey, I got a lovely message written on the bottom of my report from my teacher saying I’d inspired him to cook and share my course with his friends. No wonder I do a spice class, and have written an eBook with some of my recipes. A little bit of encouragement goes a long way.

Close up of a white plate with Curry leaf Coconut chicken recipe

Coconut Chicken Curry

5 from 2 votes

5 stars tells us you love the recipe

becs-table.com.au
This Coconut Chicken Curry is super tasty – great comfort food for cool days. The spice blend (masala) is enough for four people (or 2 complete meals for a couple).
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Difficulty Medium
Course Dinner or Entree, Quick easy dinner
Cuisine Indian style
Servings 4
Method Food processor, Stove top, Thermomix

Equipment

  • 1 Thermomix (optional)
  • 1 Stand mixer (optional)

Ingredients
  

For the Coconut Masala (Curry powder) enough for 4 – 6 chicken pieces

  • 2-4 dried chillies it is a curry but it’s up to you if you how many you want to use and which type
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 11/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 11/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp cracked peppercorns or 1 tsp of whole peppercorns
  • 1 tsp dried garlic granules
  • 85 g desiccated coconut

For the dish

  • 4-6 Chicken thighs bone in, and skin on, is nice for this dish
  • 2 -3 Brown onions sliced
  • 40 Curry leaves
  • 1 cup non flavoured oil (I used sunflower) more or less depending on the size of your pan
  • 1 cup water to deglaze the pan and make the sauce
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • First, start by making the masala (spice blend). *See tips Add all the ingredients for the masala except the coconut into the TM bowl, spice grinder or food processor and grind to a powder. Thermomix MC in 30 seconds/speed 9
  • Add the coconut to the TM bowl or spice grinder and blitz again. Thermomix 30 seconds/speed 9 then remove from the processor and set aside
  • Add enough oil to a frypan to cover the base around 1/2 – 1 cm high *see tips turn the heat to medium-high (180°C) when the oil is hot enough, add in half of the sliced onions and give them a stir. Then add in half the curry leaves. Stand back when you add the curry leaves; they'll pop and splutter for a few seconds don' let that hot oil splash on you. Cook them off until the onions are golden brown; it should take 5 – 8 mins. Then remove from the oil and drain onto a paper towel.
  • Now allow the oil to cool a little, remove most of it from the pan leaving behind around a tablespoon (*see tips). Add the remainder of the onions and curry leaves and gently stirfry until the onions soften. Don't forget to watch out for those spitting curry leaves.
  • Once the onion has softened, add the masala blend we made at the start. (I only used two pieces of chicken in the step by step examples, so I only used 1/2 the masala and popped the rest in a jar for another day use what you need to for the amount of chicken you have). Stir it around and fry it off until it's fragrant. It should only take a minute or so. Then push it aside and add in your chicken thighs. – Skin side down first. Cook until the skin starts to brown a little, then flip them over to brown the other side.
  • Now add enough water to the base of the pan to turn the masala and onions into a sauce. Make it slightly watery at this stage, as it can be reduced later. Use a spatula to loosen the ingredients from the bottom of the pan, then pop on a lid. Cook on low to medium heat for 15 minutes, remove the lid, give it a stir, and add more water if needed; continue to cook for a further 15 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear.
  • When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan, plating it up as you wish. Taste the sauce and add enough salt to bring out the flavour, then take the fried onions/curry leaves we made at the start, set some aside for a garnish; add the remainder to the sauce, stirring them in to combine. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and add the fried onions as garnish. I've also added a few micro coriander leaves to mine to make it pretty.

Notes

  • There is enough masala in the recipe above for 4 – 6 chicken pieces, however, in the step by step images, I only used half of it because I only cooked off two thigh fillets. I popped the other half of the masala into a lidded jar to use another day.
  • I use a smaller fry pan for frying the onions and curry leaves.  This prevents me from using too much oil.  Don’t overcrowd the pan; cook them in batches if needed.  To make the onions crispy, you need to get the oil hot before adding the onion, shallow fry to crisp up and not stew.  
  • You don’t have to waste the leftover oil from frying off the onions.  When you remove it from the pan, add it to a heatproof bowl.  Use it over the next few days when cooking.  Waste not, want not, and it has a lovely flavour now. 
  • Curry leaves can be kept in the freezer for a couple of months if you don’t use them all.  
  • Frying onions brings out the sweetness. 
  • Salt will bring out the flavour. 

Want to know more?

Why not make your own spice? Its easy.

gif link to our spice ebook bundle

2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Someone has probably told you by now to store your garlic and onion powder in the fridge (or freezer) and it won’t dry out.

    1. Hi Denise, Thanks for the suggestion.
      Yes, I have heard that and tried it, but my dried onion powder is still set hard in the jar after a month or so. Commercial brands use anti-caking agents to prevent that. I’m happy to leave them as chunks or dried slices. Seems to work better for me. 😉

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