This rich, creamy and flavourful curry hails from the Southern state of India, Kerala – a wonderful combination of spices in a rich coconut sauce. Juicy chicken makes this delicious curry complete. Learn how it’s made…
One of my most favourite curries hails from the South of India. This amazing Keralan Chicken Curry recipe is my interpretation of a wonderful version I ate in Kochi, India. It was a treat to eat meat in South India - most of the food I consumed (we're talking A LOT here) was vegetarian or vegan, but on occasion, and especially in Kochi, we ate meat dishes (or non-veg, as they're called).
One such treasure was a simple chicken curry that was so packed with flavour I could barely believe it. It was SPICY too! Upon my return, I knew I'd replicate the flavours. And I've done a decent job - even if I do say so myself. The sauce is rich, complex, colourful and incredibly tasty - each bite sets off a chain reaction of flavour and when combined with the juicy chicken it's a real delight.
Follow my simple steps on how to cook Keralan Chicken Curry
Stage 1: Making the Keralan Curry powder.
I included a few spices here, but not excessive by Indian standards, and paid special attention to a couple of special ingredients for this particular curry. Poppy seeds (white/hulled) and black pepper both feature commonly in Keralan cuisine, so they are front of stage in my curry powder recipe. Dry frying the spices activate the oils in the spices and help create a much fuller flavour.
The next stage of the curry base is to grind the toasted spices using a spice grinder or pestle & mortar. Grind into a fine powder, then mix in a couple of pre-ground ingredients. Turmeric (for colour and flavour) and Kashmiri chilli powder. This mild chilli powder has the most prized colour in all of India a vibrant red that brings all the colour to the sauce. You can buy it in most Indian stores or online.
Incidentally, this curry powder recipe creates double the quantity that you'll need. The good news is two-fold – you'll have another portion that you can store for your next Keralan curry and secondly, it'll store for up to 12 months (in an airtight container).
Stage 2: Making the curry.
Onions form the base of this curry and by cooking them down with a few fresh curry leaves until they're meltingly soft helps create the rich, creamy texture of the final sauce. Be sure to keep the heat a little lower to ensure the onions don't char too much - over-charring will bring a bitter flavour to the sauce.
In goes the chicken along with the half portion of curry powder, followed by some coconut milk.
Coco'nuts' about coconut curry
Coconut palms line literally every square metre of Kerala, so it's little wonder that the flesh, milk, cream, leaves and oil feature heavily in its cuisine.
Extracting your own coconut milk
If you're up for it, buy a fresh coconut and grate the flesh - then soak the flesh in water for 30 minutes before wringing out with a clean tea towel to extract the most luxurious coconut cream (the first extraction). Repeat the process with the same grated coconut for a thinner coconut milk (second extraction). Both can be used for cooking.
Or, if you're like me - buy a can of coconut milk.
After a quick cook, the curry is done and ready to devour. I love to garnish with whatever I have at hand and this changes regularly. I always sprinkle over fresh cilantro/coriander and generally some chunks of spicy green chillies. Limes usually play a part and I'll sometimes add tomatoes, fried coconut, radishes, cashews, fresh curry leaves, fried curry leaves, a little drizzle of coconut cream and whatever else looks inviting on the day.
This curry really is one of my most favourite to make at home and I'll often make it without eating and freeze in single portions. My freezer(s) could rival ANY Indian restaurant - I can whip up a full menu at any given time with the sheer amount of tasty food in there. I'm sure you'll love this curry as much as I do... enjoy!
More delicious Indian recipes to cook at home.
If you liked this curry, then try some or all of my other favourite Indian recipes. For a quick rundown on chicken check out my Best Chicken Curry recipes, or select one of these tasty treats:
How to make my Keralan Chicken Curry