Chicken and coconut curry


Of all my granny's recipes, this is probably the most famous and well loved.  When I was very young and living in Bombay, I remember her having her tea on the verandah of our flat, chairing often-heated discussions about the day's menu with her kitchen staff.  Chicken curry was always a favourite, served with pilau, mince cutlets and yellow potatoes.

Mornings would be spent grinding fresh masala and cracking open coconut, with fresh aromatic smells filling the house along with the sound of sizzling pots of frying onions.  Life seemed to be conducted and time pass in tune with the food the household cooked and ate.  If I made a 1000 chicken curries I could not recreate the anticipation and flavour of that delicious lunchtime meal.

To make your own version, you need to use my hand roasted and ground bottle masala, but if you don't have any try a very freshly ground good quality curry powder instead.  Or buy some of my masala.... really :). 

You can also replace chicken in this recipe with any meat, fish or seafood, and adjust cooking times to suit. 

For four people, you will need:

3 tablespoons of coconut oil 

1 red onion, finely chopped or grated (optional)

1-2 green chillies, sliced vertically down the middle 

2 cloves of garlic (optional)

1 heaped tablespoon of crushed ginger (optional)

1 stalk of curry leaves (optional)

500 grams of chicken pieces (try not to use breast - legs, thigh and tenderloin are ok)

2 heaped teaspoons of bottle masala

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of sugar

1 tin of coconut milk or cream

Stock or water

Fresh coriander to garnish 

Marinate the chicken in a mixture of the tomato paste, vinegar, bottle masala, salt and sugar for as long as you can (overnight is great but not essential - I often don't leave it to rest at all if I'm in a hurry).

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and fry the onions until brown and caramelised (10-15 minutes), add the curry leaf, green chilli, garlic and ginger and fry for another 2-3 minutes. All of these ingredients are optional, so if you don't have time to fry the onions, omit them. Ginger and garlic will add lots of flavour but you can also omit either one and use more of the other depending on the flavours you like best.  

Add in the chicken and as much marinade as you can scrape in, and fry for another minute or two.  

Slowly add half a cup of water or stock and cover and cook until the chicken is done (15-20 minutes for boneless, 40 minutes for legs or bone-in thighs is a good guesstimate), stirring occasionally.  When everything is cooked, add half to one cup of coconut milk or cream and taste for salt or sugar, then cook for 10 more minutes.  

Garnish with fresh coriander and you can also add a good squeeze of lemon juice before serving.