There are so many variations to a coconut milk chicken curry and this is my own. There's nothing special or majorly different in this recipe than the base of most Indian curries but I do like my chicken curry in a particular way, and this is it. While generally my Indian non-vegetarian recipes are on the spicier side, both heat-wise and spice-wise, I like to keep coconut based curries on the milder side. That tends to brings out the flavour and sweetness of coconut milk which really should be the star in such recipes. I also like to keep tang to a minimum and so add tomatoes for the colour than for any major flavour.
You can adapt this chicken curry with coconut milk recipe in many different ways to suit your palates and I have mentioned some variations below, while I explain the flow of how I make it. If you use canned or packaged coconut milk, this is a very easy dish to put together in under 30 mins. Making your own coconut milk will obviously elevate the flavour of the curry but it's not essential in this dish, in my opinion. Since I like the gravy to be a bit on the thicker side, I used ground poppy seed paste, something that is unavailable in Singapore and so more used and appreciated in Sydney :) TH and I have different choices (he's a vegetarian) and we rarely comment on each other's choices but after making this chicken curry, I told him for the first time that I wish he could taste it.
I have a few more chicken recipes in the site and my favourites are dry chilli chicken, Kerala chicken curry, and butter chicken masala. Try them! You can also check out how to make coconut milk at home.
CHICKEN CURRY WITH COCONUT MILKPreparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Recipe: My own
250 gm of cleaned and cubed chicken pieces
1 cup of sliced onions
2 tbsp of oil (I use coconut oil)
1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
2 tsp of coriander powder
1/2 tsp of red chilli powder
1" piece of ginger
2 green chillies (adjust to taste)
2 flakes of garlic
A few cubes of ripe tomato
1 tbsp of poppy seeds, soaked for 15 mins (see notes)
2 cups of thin coconut milk (see notes)
1 cup of thick coconut milk
A small bunch of chopped coriander leaves, for garnish
1. Heat oil in a wide pan and add the sliced onions. Fry until golden brown (they need to brown a bit more than in the picture below).
2. Grind the green chillies, garlic, and ginger together coarsely.
3. Add the spice powders - chilli, coriander, cumin, and turmeric - to the fried onions. Saute for 20 seconds.
4. Now add the ground chilli paste and tomatoes to the above. Fry again for a minute, the mixture will turn fragrant.
5. Add the cleaned chicken pieces to this,
along with the thin coconut milk + 1 more cup of water. Add salt. Bring this to boil.
6. Meanwhile, grind the soaked poppy seeds in 2-3 tbsp water into a smooth paste. I use the same grinder as I used for chilli paste.
Add poppy seed paste to the curry and when it comes to boil, lower heat and cook closed for 15-20 mins or until the chicken pieces are cooked. The gravy will also thicken a bit.
7. On low heat, add the thick coconut milk and mix well.
8. Do not boil for too long after the thick coconut milk is added. If you feel the gravy is too watery, boil the curry in an open pan before adding the thick coconut milk. Once it's heated through and just begins to boil, add the chopped coriander leaves, adjust salt, and remove from flame.
Variations and Notes:
- You can add more tomatoes if you want or omit it completely
- If you want a 'whiter' curry, omit the chilli powder and increase amount of green chillies, to taste
- I use poppy seeds as a gravy thickener. Other options are to use cashew nut paste (soaked cashew nuts ground with water) or more thick coconut milk or coconut cream
- You can use curry leaves as garnish instead of coriander leaves but avoid using both
- You can try this same recipe with chicken pieces with bone. It's hard for me to find that kind cleaned and prepared so I always opt for chicken breast. Adjust cooking time according to size of chicken pieces
- You can make a vegetarian version of this curry by substituting chicken with soya chunks, potatoes, or a mixture of both. A mix of vegetables may also turn out well
- Regarding thin and thick coconut milk - if using canned coconut milk, buy full cream variety (not the low fat or whatever) and for the 2 cups thin milk, dilute with 1:1 water. When you need to add the thick coconut milk, add it as is. Check this post if making coconut milk at home