Freshly grated coconut, almonds, cashew nuts, rich spices, and under half an hour: this is all you need for this sublime Kerala Style Chicken Curry. Once more, courtesy of my mother-in-law, this is the real deal to be served with ghee rice, appam, simple chapatis, or anything you fancy really. Welcome to the ultimate South Indian Curry!
Growing up in the Northeast of Italy, we thought we were quite cosmopolitan; there, on the border with Eastern Europe, enjoying fancy foods, different languages, and architecture, we thought we had seen it all.
Fast forward to me moving to London, meeting Jay, and starting to really travel the world, beyond what I thought was the travelable part of it - because yes, whilst I knew other places existed, I never thought I could visit them - I found myself sitting in a Mumbai flat, looking at my mother-in-law proudly serving a dinner of soft thick appams and this chicken mappas, and that was it, I fell in love with what must be one of the most decadent and delicious cuisines in the world: Indian.
So, once more, here is a delicious South Indian curry, Kerala Style to be precise, prepared in under half an hour, using very simple and nutritious ingredients for a spectacular, mouth-dropping result. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do every single time!
Ingredients Chicken Curry Kerala Style
- Chicken, and Potatoes: The two main ingredients of the curry. You can choose any cut of chicken you can dice, just ensure it is skinless. All-purpose diced white potatoes will work, either skin on or skin off.
- Oil: Flavorless vegetable oil or sunflower oil works perfectly. I don't use coconut oil here like for Nadan Kozhi [Nadan chicken curry], as there is fresh coconut.
- Garlic, Ginger, Green Chilies, Onions: If possible, opt for the fresh versions, as they taste better. You may use ginger garlic paste if needed, but balance the amount, as these tend to be stronger and pungent.
- Turmeric Powder, Coriander Powder, Red Chili Powder: Simple Indian spices. Should red chili powder be too spicy for your taste, you can try using Kashmiri chili powder instead, which offers less heat but a beautiful red color.
- Curry Leaves: One of the most important ingredients in this Kerala-style chicken curry! If possible, use fresh ones, as their aroma is unique, however freshly frozen or dry will work well too.
- Garam Masala, and Fennel Powder: South Indian Garam Masala is warmer and more aromatic than the traditional one and works wonders with a pinch of refreshing fennel powder.
- Cashews, and Almonds: They are blended with the fresh coconut to make the curry creamier and richer, however, they can be skipped.
- Fresh Coconut: Freshly grated [or freshly grated frozen] coconut is the essence of this curry, and can't be replaced with desiccated coconut. Thick coconut cream may be used instead, but the result won't be the same.
- Salt, and Black Pepper: To Taste.
How to make Kerala Style Chicken Curry?
- Start by grinding to a fine paste the coconut meat, almonds, and cashew nuts; after grinding for about 30 seconds you may need to mix the content with a spoon and add a bit of water to make further grinding easier.
- To start this Kerala style chicken curry recipe, heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the finely chopped ginger and garlic, as well as the slit chilies .
- Once the smell of the rawness of the garlic has gone, add the cubed potatoes, sliced onions, and salt; mix well and allow to cook for a couple of minutes on a medium flame.
- At this stage start adding the spices: red chili powder (very little as you don’t want to lose the typical Mappas color), coriander powder, and turmeric powder; mix well and cook for about one minute, until the spices separate from the oil.
- Next, add the diced chicken, mix well and allow it to cook for about 10 minutes with the lid on; mix occasionally but allow the chicken to slightly brown around while cooking.
- After 10 minutes, the chicken will be nearly cooked, so next add the curry leaves, garam masala, and fennel powder, mix well once again and allow to cook for a further minute.
- For the last stage, add the cream of coconut, cashew nuts, and almonds and adjust the water amount according to taste; once the curry is simmering again, put the lid back on and allow it to cook for a further 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked (whichever takes longer).
- Enjoy with bread, appam, flatbread, or rice of choice!
People Also Ask [FAQs]
Kerala style chicken curry has a very diverse profile. There are the warm tones of the spices, mixed with the sweetness of the coconut; overall, this rich, creamy curry is well balanced and filling, because of the combination of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Fresh, or fresh frozen coconut, is a must in this recipe and the only acceptable alternative is some tinned, thick coconut milk or cream. Desiccated coconut is not a suitable alternative for this Kerala-style chicken curry.
If you can't use the almonds and cashews to make the coconut cream, simply skip them. For a creamier result, do not strain the coconut after blending it [which I don't do in any case!].
This chicken curry can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to four days. It can be frozen the same way for up to three months. Ensure the curry is thoroughly hot before serving again.
All types of bread and flatbreads work well with this chicken curry, such as chapati, rotis, appam, parathas, or naan, as well as rice, such as ghee rice, coconut rice, or simple fragrant pilau rice.
Many, and more! You can start off with this Easy Chicken Curry, which teaches the basics of how to use Indian spices to cook. Other tasty and easy options are butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, Kolhapuri chicken [with how to make your own Kolhapuri masala], garlic and chili chicken curry, or a delicious Sri Lankan black pepper chicken curry.
Tips and Tricks for this delish Kerala chicken curry
- Coconut: If you read the whole recipe, you will have noticed I mentioned this before: do not use desiccated coconut, as it will not taste right, nor offer the correct consistency. If you can't find fresh or freshly frozen coconut, use thick tinned coconut milk or cream instead; although it will not offer the same end result, it will still be good.
- Chicken: In this particular recipe used chicken breasts, however, you can use juicy thighs or drums as well as a mixture of all. Boneless or bone-in chicken are both great options, but it is best to use skinless chicken.
- Nadan Kozhi: This is not Nadan chicken curry, which uses mustard seeds, tomato, and coconut oil, but another Keralan chicken curry.
- All Potato or All Chicken: If you don't fancy mixing the two, just don't and use more of what you like!
- Heat level: If you prefer your curry to be hotter or milder, play with the amount of red chili powder you are using, as well as the green chilies, as they can all be increased or decreased to liking.
- Fennel Powder: I make my own fennel powder by grinding fennel seeds [which I use for tea]; however, should you not have them, you can use a little cumin powder [here's how to make it from seeds] or anise powder instead.
Yes, this is the one and only Kerala-style chicken curry you will want to try. With well-balanced flavors, a rich gravy, and a surprisingly easy recipe, it is a chicken curry you will find yourself making over and over again!
Simple and Delicious Kerala Style Chicken Curry with Coconut
For the cream of coconut
- 50 g Fresh Grated Coconut
- 10 g Cashews
- 10 g Almonds
For the curry [in order of use]
- 2 tablespoon Sunflower Oil or Vegetable Oil
- 10 g Fresh Ginger, Chopped = 3 cloves
- 10 g or about the same volume as the garlic Fresh Garlic, Chopped
- 4 Green Chilies Slit
- 200 g Red Onion, Chopped
- 150 g Potatoes, Peeled and Diced
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 1+ ½ tablespoon Coriander Powder
- ½ teaspoon Red Chili Powder
- 350 g Boneless and Skinless Chicken Breast, Cut in dices
- 20-30 Curry Leaves
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
- ¼ teaspoon Fennel Powder
- Salt to Taste
Start with the prep:
- In a grinder, finely blend the grated coconut, cashews, and almonds and a bit of water if necessary to make it to a rich, creamy paste.
- Dice the potatoes and the chicken, thinly slice the onions, and chop the ginger and garlic.
- Add the oil to a large pan (should be big enough to contain the whole curry) and warm up on medium heat; once the oil is warm, add the chopped ginger, garlic, and green chilies and mix well.
- Cook these for about one minute, till the rawness of the garlic has almost gone, then add the chopped onion and potatoes and lower the flame to low; add a bit of salt and put a lid on the pan. Allow the onion and potatoes to lightly cook for 3 minutes.
- Once this is done, add the chili powder, coriander powder, and turmeric and mix well; after about one minute the spices will start to separate from the oil, meaning they are cooked.
- At this point add the chicken, mix well and cover with the lid; allow it to cook for 10 minutes that way. The chicken will release some water, which will form the gravy.
- After 10 minutes, add the curry leaves, garam masala, and fennel powder, mix well again and cover for a further 1-2 minutes. Should you at this stage or the step before notice there is not enough liquid in the pan, adjust to taste.
- Add the cream of coconut you prepared at the beginning to the curry, mix well and cook on a medium flame for a further 5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the gravy reaches the desired consistency. You may need to adjust the water again, as the coconut will make the gravy nice and thick.
- Turn the heat off and allow the curry to rest for a couple of minutes before serving. Enjoy!