Nadan kozhi (chicken) coconut cream curry

Nadan Kozhi Coconut Curry

From Kerala in South India comes the delicious Nadan curry style of cuisine (more usually known in the west as Keralan curry, be it meat, fish, vegetables, or eggs). Here is a traditional Keralan-style kozhi (chicken) curry with a few tweaks of my own. The distinctive ingredients of Nadan recipes are the coconut and the spices, both being abundant crops in the Kerala region.

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  • ¼ teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut cream
  • 6 large chicken thighs, bone in, skin removed
  • 1 tablespoon of groundnut oil
  • 2 red chillies, cut in half lengthways and deseeded
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 medium size tomatoes, blitzed in a processor
  • 3½ fluid ounces / 100ml water
  • 3½ fluid ounces / 100ml coconut milk
  • Small bunch fresh coriander

For the curry paste

  • 1 tablespoon of groundnut oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large thumb of garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tablespoon of Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
  • 1¾ fluid ounces / 50ml water


Mix the turmeric and coconut cream in a bowl and add the chicken, coating well.  Leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.

To make the paste, add the oil to a large frying pan on a low heat and fry the ginger and garlic for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining paste ingredients.  Fry for 5 minutes and set aside to cool.  Once cool, put in a processor with the water and blitz to a paste.

In a large, heavy bottomed pan add the remaining tablespoon of oil on a medium heat.  Add the chillies and the onions and fry for 10 minutes.

Add the blitzed tomatoes and cook for another couple of minutes before adding the paste.  Fry for a further 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Increase the temperature to medium-high and add the chicken,frying for a further 5 minutes.

Add the water and place the lid on before simmering for 25 minutes.

Check that the chicken is cooked through, season to taste and add the coconut milk before simmering for a final 5 minutes.

Remove and discard the chillies and serve with rice, tearing the leaves from the coriander over your curry.


South Kerala is the location of an astonishing annual religious cooking festival, almost exclusively attended by women, which the Guinness Book of Records cites as the largest gathering of women anywhere in the world. In 2009, some 2.5 million women attended the festival. The women gather around the Attukal Temple in Trivandrum, carrying their cooking pots, ingredients, and fuel, and filling most of the roads and lanes of the city. They set up their hearths the night before and wait for the temple ceremony that distributes the fire, being spread from hearth to hearth. They then cook their meal and carry it home as a sacred offering. The festival is known as Pongala after the Tamil dish Pongal.

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