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Kerala, located on the palm-fringed coast of South West India, has a very distinctive cooking style which reflects its verdant, tropical climate. Coconuts are abundant there and many recipes therefore call for the addition of coconut milk. The use of spices are generous yet not hot, rather very flavourful.

Serves 4


  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt, lightly whisked
  • 1kg / 2lbs chicken on the bone, skinned and jointed
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 green birds eye chillies, slit length-ways
  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup / 150g tomatoes, pureed to a smooth paste
  • 1/2 cup / 125ml water
  • 1/2 cup / 125ml thick coconut milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander, to garnish

For the paste

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2.5cm / 1″ piece ginger, roughly chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 4 dried whole kashmiri red chillies (or any dried mild chillies)
  • 2 heaped tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp black peppercorn
  • 5 green cardamom pods, seeds only


Put the turmeric, yogurt and a pinch of salt in a bowl and mix well
Add the chicken pieces and leave to marinate for about an hour
Meanwhile, make the paste
Place a sauté pan over a low heat and add oil, followed by ginger and garlic
Sauté for about a minute, then add all the paste ingredients and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes until lightly coloured
Leave to cool, then put the mixture in a blender, add 50-70ml water and blitz to a fine paste
Set aside
Heat a heavy-bottomed non-stick pan over medium heat and add the 3 tbsp of oil
Add the birds eye chillies, letting them sizzle for a few seconds
Add the onion and cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes
Pour in the pureed tomatoes and stir well, cooking for 3 minutes
Add the spice paste and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring well, until the sauce thickens slightly
Increase the heat slightly and add the marinated chicken pieces, stirring well to coat them with the spice paste
Fry for 4 minutes until lightly coloured
Add the water and season to taste
Simmer, covered, for 25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through
Add the coconut milk, stir well and simmer for a further 5-7 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened
Garnish with chilli flakes or coriander and serve with rice and or poppadoms and chutney