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.

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