Chicken Curry in Coconut Milk

chicken curry in coconut milkChicken curry is a common delicacy in Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Caribbean. Typically, South Asian curry consists of chicken, coconut milk and a variety of other ingredients including chilli peppers, garlic, onions, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin and turmeric.

There are many regional variations of chicken curry with many variations on the basic recipe. Typically, it begins with spices and coconut milk heated in oil and chicken added to the dish later, simmered and cooked through. Curry and coconut leaves are also popular additions which are also healthy, just like the nutritious ingredients in this cooking course.

In India, chicken curry is garnished with coriander leaves and served with roti or rice as you will see in this vegetarian Indian course. In Thailand, chicken may be cooked in red curry, green curry and other varieties of Thai curry. In Malaysia, potatoes are normally added and in there are wet and dry versions of the dish. Other locations add ingredients such as cashew halves, which gives the dish added texture.

You can generally find this dish in five star restaurants and several small shops. Depending on the preparation style, some versions are creamier while others are sweeter.

Basic Chicken Curry in Coconut Milk

  • 8 Skinless Chicken Thighs or Drumsticks
  • 400ml can of coconut milk
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • Fresh root ginger, small piece, quartered
  • Small bunch of coriander
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-2 thin green chillies
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin powder
  • Cinnamon stick, thumb-size piece
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 ½ tsp coriander powder

In a food processor, whiz together the stalk and leaves of the coriander along with the coconut milk. Pour this into a bowl and set aside. Clean out the food processor and add the chillies, ginger and garlic. Make a paste by whizzing the ingredients with just enough water.

In a large, non-stick pan, heat the oil. Cook the chicken until it is browned on all sides. Remove chicken and into the pan, add in the cinnamon, cloves and onion. Fry until it turns slightly golden. Into the pan, add the chilli paste and cook until a lot of the liquid evaporates.

Put the chicken back into the pan. Stir in the coconut paste and the powdered spices. Bring this to a boil. Cover the pan and cook for fifty minutes, removing the lid halfway through the cooking process to get the liquid to evaporate and thicken the sauce. Check to see if the chicken is cooked through. Season to taste and stir in the tamarind paste. If the sauce gets too thick, you can add a bit of water until you get the consistency you like.

Chicken Curry in Coconut Milk with Potatoes and Cashews

Here is a variation of the basic chicken curry in coconut milk recipe, which adds great texture to the dish.

  • 4 lb chicken pieces, or a whole chicken cut into 6 pieces
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tbsp ghee, oil or butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup cashew halves, roasted
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 ½ tbs curry powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup low salt homemade or canned chicken stock

Season the chicken with pepper and salt. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the seasoned chicken in the ghee on the skin-side until it gets browned on all sides. This will take about 15 minutes. Cook the chicken on the bone-side for about fifteen minutes more Remove the chicken from the pan and put this to one side for later.

Pour out all but two tablespoons of fat from the pan and stir in the potatoes, ginger, chillies, garlic and onion. Over medium heat, cook the ingredients while frequently stirring until the onion caramelizes a little bit. This will take about fifteen minutes. Add in the curry powder and sauté this for about two minutes.

Add in the chicken stock, scraping up and bits that have browned. Return the pieces of chicken to the pan. Cook until it boils and then reduce the heat to simmer with the lid on until the chicken is cooked through and firm to the touch. This will take about half an hour. Add in the coconut milk and simmer for four minutes until it thickens. Remove pan from heat. Transfer to a service dish and sprinkle with cilantro and chopped cashews. This dish is served best over hot, steaming rice. You might even want to serve vegetarian side dishes such as the ones in this vegan cooking course.

Cooking Tips

  • Unless you are using just curry powder as a spice rub for meats, do not cook your curry over high heat. If you are creating a more basic recipe, simmer over medium or low heat. First, brown your meat and then add the potatoes and curry sauce. Before adding any other vegetables, wait until the meat is cooked through so they don’t get overcooked.
  • The best way to get full flavor from your curry is to cook the meat and vegetables directly in the curry sauce. However, if there are members of the family that are wary of spices, you might want to cook your meat separately, directly rubbing curry powder on some meat pieces while leaving the rest plain. They can then add as much or as little of the sauce as the want. When cooking sauce separately, you can over-season this and blend it down with more coconut milk or yogurt until it is seasoned just right.
  • Indian chicken curry with coconut milk tastes really great with other ingredients as well such as peas, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and tomatoes. You can even go totally vegetarian and skip the chicken, just like the dishes in this article.
  • Thai curry recipes go particularly well with baby corn, carrots, peanuts, green beans, basil and bell peppers. The perfect complement for extra spicy curry is a fresh, cool green salad with rich, creamy dressing as well as other dishes from this Indian cooking course.