Coconut Chicken Curry

On a sultry summer afternoon in July 2013, I dressed up in a maroon shirt and jeans and drove to meet my boyfriend’s parents for the first time. A twenty minute drive later, I was sipping a lovely cuppa of strong tea discussing films, school and college friends and about life in general. Minutes turned to hours and before I knew it, they proposed I have an early dinner with them as they had a delicious chicken curry that would be even more delicious since it was a day old! And the sucker that I am for food and good company, I stayed to relish this super yummy curry that was perfect in every sense of the word! We chatted about eating with hands, eating chicken with bones and food habits in general.

Four years later, I still attempt to recreate that awesome curry. I come close but it still is not as amazing as the curry we had with my now husband’s parents that evening. We’ve repeated the menu several times in Dubai after that but I think the secret to a memorable meal is also the people you share it with. Needless to say, it’s always on the menu when we visit his parents in Delhi!


Essential whole spices for the curry

I would call this an elaborate recipe as there are a  number of steps and a detailed list of ingredients. You can adjust the level of heat by using lesser number of red and green chillies and using kashmiri red chilli powder instead of the hotter variety.

It’s a really flavourful curry and is best once it’s old. This is true for most coconut based curries as the coconut and the chicken absorb the flavours more deeply when it’s kept for sometime. This applies to the other recipes I’ve previously shared ~ the Parippu Dal and Ripe Mango Curry.

More coconut based recipes on Kitchenpostcards
Coconut Rice Pudding 
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Ripe Mango curry


1/2 kg chicken
1/2 cup shallots (small onions- ulli), peeled- OPTIONAL

For roasting:

4 tsp coriander seeds
1-2 small cinnamon sticks
2 tsp jeera/ cumin seeds
1 dried red chilli
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp methi/fenugreek seeds
2 tsp whole black pepper
2 cloves

2 tsp Turmeric powder
5 tsp Coriander powder
2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
2 cups fresh shredded Coconut

For the curry

2 Onions- sliced
2- 3 Tomatoes- chopped/ puréed
2 cloves garlic – chopped
an inch of ginger – chopped
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp Seasame/ coconut oil
a sprig of curry leaves
1 teaspoon Chicken Masala Powder (See recipe notes below)


In a heavy bottom pan or wok, dry roast the peeled shallots till they have some black spots on them. Once done, keep them aside to cool down. You can use regular onions too or skip this step altogether. The onions add volume to the curry.

In the same vessel, add the whole spices  (listed in Part 1 above) and roast them till you can smell the aroma. Take them out so that the spices cool down. Coming to Part 2 of the roasting, add the shredded coconut and cook till the coconut turns light golden. To this add red chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric. Roast for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let the mix cool down.

I usually roast the spices and and the coconut separately because I process the whole spices first and then add the coconut to it to get a finer paste. You can add the spices and coconut together if your mixie/ processor can grind the paste well.

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While the spices and coconut cool down, wash and pat dry the chicken with paper towels. If using chicken breast, cut into cubes. Keep aside.

Transfer the shallots and the roasted coconut spice mix to a mixer-grinder or blender. Add a bit of water and process till it becomes a thick paste. You’ll have to adjust the quantity of water while grinding to make a smooth yet thick paste.

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Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add mustard seeds and wait for them to crackle. Next add curry leaves, onions and chopped garlic. Fry till the onions are golden. Add the chopped tomatoes, green chilli and ginger to this. Add salt, coriander powder, chilli powder and cook till the oil separates. Next add the chicken pieces and cook for 10 minutes on medium high heat.

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Next, add the coconut spice paste and some water* to adjust the thickness of the gravy, but the thicker it is the better. Pressure cook for 1 whistle and it’s done. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot with steamed rice.

Recipe Notes

  • In a recent version, I added a heaped teaspoon of Chicken Masala (By Eastern) and that lent a more well rounded flavour to the Chicken Curry. So that’s highly recommended!
  • *This curry is better when it is thicker. So be careful to not add too much water while grinding or when you finally add the coconut paste to the final curry. I usually give it one whistle in the pressure cooker and the curry remains almost as thick (or runny) as it was before it was cooked under pressure.
  • Not skimping on the amount of tomatoes, coriander powder and coconut results in a far superior curry each time! 
  • This recipe can also be adapted to the InstantPot. Incase you do try it on the InstantPot, please do share the results/experiences.
  • The amount of chilli powder in most of our recipes on the blog yields a spicy dish because well, that’s how most Indian dishes are. Please adjust the amount of chilli powder you use according to your tolerance to spices. If you feel that using less chilli doesn’t result in the curry to be the same colour, switch to using Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder which is less hot and has a brilliant red colour. Your nearby Indian Grocery store should stock Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder in all likelihood

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