Spicy Chicken Curry with Coconut & Chilli

Spicy Chicken Curry with Coconut & Chilli

Spicy Chicken Curry with Coconut & Chilli, excerted from Thali: A Joyful Celebration of Indian Home Cooking by Maunika Gowardhan. Photography by Sam A. Harris.

Thali: A Joyful Celebration of Indian Home Cooking

In Thali Indian cook and social media star Maunika Gowardhan serves up over 80 easy and accessible recipes that show you just how simple it is to create a Thali at home.

The word “Thali” refers to the way meals are eaten in India; where a mixed selection of delicious dishes are served together on one platter. They offer a wonderful way to experiment with Indian flavors and dishes and to discover the rich and diverse range of this cuisine.

From familiar and classic Indian dishes like Tadka Dal and Matar Paneer alongside less familiar ones such as Pomegranate Spiced Chicken and Konkani Jackfruit Stir-Fry, these recipes will encourage you to explore the varied and vibrant range of food, flavours and textures across the Indian subcontinent, and give you the confidence and skill to create your own perfect thali.
Featuring a thali inspiration section at the end which showcases four stunning regional thalis to recreate at home, as well as menu ideas to help you mix and match recipes as you like, Thali is a joyful and creative approach to Indian home-cooking that will excite and inspire.

Thali: A Joyful Celebration of Indian Home Cooking is available at Amazon.com and Indigo.ca.   

Spicy Chicken Curry with Coconut & Chilli


A hearty chicken curry that’s full of flavour from the coconut, chilli and lime juice, and brimming with classic spices synonymous with the west of India. Traditionally, this chicken curry is made in clay pots, which give a wonderful earthy, smoky flavour to the final dish.


3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
800 g (1 lb 12 oz) skinless chicken on the bone, jointed and salt, to taste
400 ml (13 fl oz/generous
1½ cups) water
100 ml (3½ fl oz/scant ½ cup) coconut milk
2 tbsp lime juice

For the coconut paste

150 g (5 oz) grated fresh or frozen coconut
1 tbsp vegetable oil
250 g (9 oz) white onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2.5 cm (1 in) ginger root, roughly chopped
2 tbsp chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves and stems, plus extra to serve
150 ml (5 fl oz/scant 2/3 cup) water

For the ground spice mix

6 dried red Kashmiri chillies, deseeded
½ tsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 star anise
6 cloves
½ tsp black mustard seeds
5 cm (2 in) cinnamon stick
½ tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp ground nutmeg

First prepare your spice mix. Add all the spice mix ingredients to a large frying pan (skillet) and dry roast over a medium heat for 8–10 minutes, stirring the spices continuously. As they begin to deepen in colour and the aromas of the spices are released, turn off the heat and leave to cool. Once cool, blitz the spices in a spice grinder, until they resemble a fine powder, then set aside.

To make the coconut paste, add the grated coconut to the same frying pan, without any oil, and dry roast over a low heat for 15–20 minutes. The coconut will turn light brown and dry out slightly. Transfer the coconut to a plate and set aside, then add the oil to the pan, along with the onions,garlic, ginger and fresh coriander. Mix well and continue to fry for 10 minutes over a medium heat. The onions and garlic will brown slightly and soften. Leave the mixture to cool, then transfer to a blender, along with the coconut and water, and grind to a smooth, fine paste.

To cook the curry, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the coconut paste and fry for 2–3 minutes, then add the chilli powder and ground turmeric along with the ground spice mix. Fry for 1 minute, stirring well. Increase the heat slightly and add the chicken pieces. Fry for 5 minutes, mixing well as the chicken seals. Season to taste, then add the water. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer over a low heat for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through. Add the coconut milk and simmer for a further 5 minutes until the curry thickens slightly.

To finish, squeeze in the lime juice, garnish with extra coriander, and serve with chapatti or millet bread and onion salad.

Recipe reprint with permission from Hardie Grant Books.

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