Xacuti Chicken

Xacuti chicken is a Indian dish which originates in Goa on the west coast. The origins trace back to Portuguese rule over the area. It’s a very flavourful and unique dish, using fresh coconut seasoned with a complex combination of spices including chillies and poppy seeds. It may appear a little fiddly, but the resulting dish is really rather delicious. I say that about every curry dish I make – I know, but trust me, this one is great, and guaranteed to surprise even those weary of the run-of-the-mill Indian standards.

Coconut paste:
2 cups fresh coconut (grated)
2 onions (sliced)

Spice Mix:
5 dried kashmiri chillies
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
6 cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 star anise
2″ stick cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp

Other Ingredients:
1kg chicken thighs (cut into chunks)
1/2 lime (juice of)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion (thinly sliced)
2″ piece fresh ginger (chopped)
7 garlic cloves (chopped)
20 curry leaves

To make the coconut paste:

In a dry frying pan, cook the coconut and onion over a moderate heat, stirring for about 20 minutes until the coconut is lightly golden. Remove from the pan, cool slightly then blend together into a rough paste in a food processor.

To make the spice mix:
Wipe the pan clean then dry all the spice mix ingredients, except the tamarind. Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour into a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and grind into a fine powder. Remove to a bowl and stir in the tamarind and 1 1/2 cups water. Set aside.

To make the curry:
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a moderate heat then add the onion, garlic, ginger and coconut paste. Stir for 4-5 minutes until lightly golden. Stir in the spice paste and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the chicken and curry leaves and stir well. Add 1 1/2 cups water and season with plenty of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered for 40 minutes until the chicken is tender stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Check for seasoning and serve.

Serve with plenty of basmati rice to soak up the sauce.


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