Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Kerala Chicken Curry with Roasted Coconut and Spices


In India, marriage is the most important thing that happens in your life. Infact, marriage is your life. So, when you reach marriageable age, your family and friends start searching for a partner for you, irrespective of whether you drop subtle and obvious hints that you have already found the partner of your dreams or that you are secretly married with two kids or that you are gay and unable to perform, eh perform normal wifely/husbandly duties. Unless you are really lucky, you end up getting married. 

With the significance marriage has in our society, not only do you end up getting married but you also receive an invitation to a wedding every other week. What is the course of action to be followed once you get your invite?

Firstly, you must discern whether the invitation was a sincere one or not. Were you invited when you accidentally met the bride's father in the grocery store? Did he just give you a phone call informing you the venue and date (which you may feel isn't the proper way of dealing with someone as important as yourself) or did he travel some 100 miles just so he could personally hand out the invitation card to you (in which case you may consider gracing them with your presence). How did the bride's/groom's dad react to your suggestion to invite your other relatives and did he invite them? If you are a close, elderly and rich relative of the bride/groom, look the inviter straight in the eye and ask him whether you were the first person to be invited. If not, give him a piece of your mind about why the arrogant people now a days don't respect age, money and social status (imagined or otherwise) and give the wedding a miss. 

If you decide to attend the wedding and if you are a woman you must go through the task of finding a saree in your wardrobe that none of the expected guests have seen before. If you don't have such a saree, you need to go through the ordeal (did I say ordeal?) of saree shopping, blouse stitching, blouse altering etc. After all, it is a felony to appear in the same saree on separate occasions. Men, you can wear anything that your wife approves of.

Make sure you reach the church only when the wedding ceremony is about to end. I mean, you are totally aware that wedding ceremonies are incredibly long and boring and the bride is probably going to be seriously late getting her face painted at Shobha K's or Betty's (who is she trying to fool, everyone knows what she really looks like) and a delay of 1/2 to 1 hour is the standard. And once the ceremonies are over, the bride is going to take another hour changing into the mantrakodi and replacing her diamond necklace with a quarter of the jewellery from Alukkas. Total inconsideration for the guests in her attempts to look good on her "special day"!

After the wedding, you need to position yourself at the entrance to the reception hall. Get ready to step on toes and elbow everyone out of the way once the doors are open and target the first table in your line of sight. If you loose your chance, you'll have to wait for the second round of service that starts only after all the seated guests have eaten. What a waste of time! Yes, as you push and pull, it may appear that you haven't eaten for days, but that's nothing to be ashamed of because everyone is going to hurry just like you.

Now, while you eat, keep a lookout for those photographers and videographers. They have an aptitude for clicking a pic just when your mouth is wide open and stuffed with biryani and raita.

If the bride/groom has a controversial past, it would be good to set up an unofficial betting booth for entertainment. Because all the well wishers and guests will discuss how long the marriage is going to last. 100 rs -  one year, 1000 rs - 6 months! If the bride/groom is controversial enough, they may even agree to some spot fixing!

At Christian wedding ceremonies in Kerala, main course is mostly pulao and chicken curry or biryani or naaden non vegetarian sadhya. Depending on the caterer and on whether the caterer is having a good or bad day, you may have to fight it out with tough pieces of chicken that you fish out of oily, spicy gravy. Just to wipe out such memories of disappointing food (even though at the time you were happy because it gave you the chance to discuss why the groom's dad couldn't have found a better caterer), here is a recipe for you which proves to be a lot more satisfactory.

To make this curry, firstly dry roast dried red chilies till black spots appear. Do the same with shallots and keep aside. 

Next dry roast grated coconut along with spices such as pepper, cumin, fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon along with mustard seeds and fenugreek. When grated coconut has turned the colour of honey, add red chili powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder and fry a bit more. Once the spiced coconut has cooled down, grind to a smooth paste.

Saute onion along with ginger and garlic in coconut oil. Add chicken with tomato and mix in the coconut paste, adjust seasoning and cook until chicken is cooked through. Make a tadka by frying mustard seeds, shallot slices, dried red chilies  green chilies and curry leaves in coconut oil. Pour this tadka over the chicken curry and mix well.


For the coconut masala paste
15 shallots/small red onions
10 dried red chilies
3/4 cup grated coconut
4 clove + 1 " piece cinnamon + 3 cardamom + 2 tsp pepper corns + 1 tsp mustard seeds + 1 pinch fenugreek seeds + 3/4 tsp cumin seeds + 1 tsp fennel seed
1 heaped tsp chili powder +  2 heaped tsp coriander powder + 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Water, as required

For the Chicken curry
3 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp chopped ginger
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 sprig curry leaves
2 large onion -  thin long slices
2 large tomatoes, thin long slices
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 kg chicken pieces, on the bone
As required, salt

For the tempering
3 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
3-4 shallots, sliced
4 dried red chilies
2 green chilies, sliced lengthwise
curry leaves

1 1/2 teaspoon vinegar

In a pan, dry roast red chilies over medium heat till black spots appear. Remove and keep aside. If the shallots are large, half them. Otherwise, keep them whole and dry roast till tiny black spots appear. Remove and keep aside.

Over low heat, add coconut and spices to the pan. Saute the grated coconut and spices. Stir continuously so the mixture doesn't burn. When coconut turns brown colour, take the pan off heat. When the mixture has cooled, dry grind the shallots, dried red chilies, grated coconut and spices to as fine a powder as possible. Add water and continue grinding to a smooth paste. Keep this masala paste aside.

In a large pan or pot, add oil. Toss in chopped ginger, garlic and curry leaves and fry for a couple of minutes. The onions slices need to go in next. Saute till softened. Add tomatoes and fry for two more minutes. Mix in chicken pieces and cook for a further two minutes. Add salt followed by the coconut spice paste. Mix well. Add water so that the chicken pieces are covered, mix well, cover and cook till chicken pieces are cooked through and the gravy or sauce reaches desired consistency. Take off heat.

For the tadka, heat oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds. When they stop spluttering, add shallot slices, red chilies, green chilies and fry well. Finally add curry leaves. Add mix this tadka and vinegar with the chicken curry.

The chicken curry is ready and goes well with rice and Kerala Parotta.

Note: Adjust chili, pepper and red chili powder as per tolerance.



  1. Truly delicious...Such tempting clicks :)

  2. Indu, this looks so good. I love Kerala cuisine and definitely bookmarking this recipe. Haha, you paint such a morbid but funny picture of weddings (seriously betting goes on? I am hanging out with the wrong people during weddings!). The saree ordeal is the same everywhere, and so are the photographers lurking to click that snap of you with food in your mouth! Don't they have a bride and groom pic to click somewhere?!?!

    1. :D, Shumaila, while there may not be actual betting going on, invited people do comment among themselves that the marriage would not last in certain cases! And everyone complains that the ceremony is too long, and the bride takes too long to get ready. They conveniently forget that one day, they too took or will take too long to get ready!

  3. ugran kozhi reminded me my mom's preparation

  4. kothi varunnu... sadly i suck at making any varutharacha curries :(

  5. This is so well written and entertaining! And the curry looks so delicious.

  6. Oh! This really looks so delish! I loved the look of your chicken curry

  7. I am an absolute sucker for chicken curry. LOVE it, no matter what kind of flavor is added. The Kerelan style with curry leaves is my recent favorite!

  8. That was hilarious! First time on your blog, and I really love how you write. Back in the day, when I left home for my first job and found myself in your beautiful land, I did not develop a taste for the ubiquitous coconut oil in the local food but now you make me yearn for some. Again, loved your subtle humor.

  9. Im just wondering how hot would you describe this dish, Is it medium, hot or very hot?
    And also would you recommend adding cream or yoghurt if i wanted to give the dish a more creamy texture

  10. Rachel, this is quite a hot dish. If you want it mild, then reduce chilies and pepper. Cream is fine, but coconut cream would be preferable to keep the authentic taste!

  11. This is surely one of the best and most delicious-looking Chicken curry I've seen and I really want to try cooking some! I so love Indian recipes and I kinda miss them coz there's only very few places here that serve them. Now, I can make my own, thanks for your recipe.

    Cheers xxx


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