Chicken in coconut curry


  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 6 TB. (3/8 cup) canola oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 lb. (or slightly more) boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced to half-rings
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 small tomato, finely chopped (a bit of tomato paste or puree works, too)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 (14 oz.) can unhomogenized coconut milk, thick cream removed and reserved


1. Heat a small cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the coriander, fenugreek and peppercorns; cook, stirring constantly, until aroma is released and they begin to brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove and cool spices slightly, then grind in a spice grinder.

2. Heat a casserole or saute pan over medium-high heat; add the oil and heat through. Toss in the black mustard seeds and cinnamon stick; when the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the chicken pieces in three batches, being careful not to overcrowd. Transfer browned chicken to a plate and set aside.

3. Return the pan to medium high heat; add the onions and cook until beginning to brown, then add the garlic and cook a minute or two.

4. Add the ginger and tomatoes (or paste) and cook until soft, stiffing often. Reduce the heat and add the roasted spice mixture, turmeric, cayenne, salt and lemon juice.

5. Pour the liquid from the can of coconut milk into the pan and set aside the coconut cream. Add the chicken back the pan, then add enough water to fill the can and add to the pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.

6. When the chicken is cooked through, stir in the reserved coconut craem and the green chiles; stir once or twice as the cream warms through. Remove from the heat and serve with rice, chapatis and/or naan.

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