Coconut Chicken Curry
Coconut Chicken Curry
5 from 31 votes
Swoop into a world of spicy and sweet flavours with this coconut chicken curry recipe. It's not just about a dish; it's about an aromatic journey to the heart of authentic culinary mastery. Be the star of your kitchen and transport your taste buds on a trip they'll never forget.
Coconut Chicken Curry

Embarking on a food journey always starts with a recipe that tugs at your heartstrings. Speaking of such, let me introduce you to the Coconut Chicken Curry, an incredible blend of spices and flavours that’ll leave you craving for more. 

First and foremost, this recipe has a South Asian origin, tracing back to the Indian subcontinent. The love for spice and coconut is a tale as old as time in this region. India is renowned for its variety of curries, each with its own distinct taste.

The incorporation of coconut milk, however, is an influence from coastal regions where coconuts are abundant, adding a unique creaminess that tames the fiery spices. 

Despite its roots being deep into culture and tradition, don’t let that intimidate you! The difficulty of this recipe is akin to a leisurely stroll in the park. All it demands is some patience and the right ingredients, and you’re all set to prepare a dish that’s nothing short of a gourmet delight. 

Now, when we talk about the Coconut Chicken Curry, there’s an endless array of variations. Every region, every household, in fact, has its own way of cooking it.  

Some add a splash of yoghurt for tang, some increase the heat with more chillies, and others may opt for the addition of vegetables like bell peppers or peas. Then there are those who prefer it with boneless chicken, while others swear by the flavour that comes from bone-in pieces. 

The one we’re mastering today is a simple yet flavourful variation. It’s all about balancing the heat from the spices with the sweetness and creaminess of the coconut milk. Each ingredient added builds upon the layers of flavour, culminating in a mouth-watering curry that’s bound to impress. 

So, whether you’re a seasoned cook or a novice in the kitchen, this Coconut Chicken Curry is a recipe that invites everyone to try their hand at creating something extraordinarily delicious.  

It’s a feast for the senses, a celebration of culture, and a testament to the beautiful diversity that food brings to our tables. All that’s left now is to roll up your sleeves and immerse yourself in this culinary adventure. Let’s get started, shall we? 

What Ingredients to Use & Why 

Creating an authentic Coconut Chicken Curry is all about the harmony of its ingredients. Each element adds its unique personality to the dish, shaping the taste, texture, and aroma that we’ve come to associate with this recipe.

Understanding what each ingredient brings to the table not only adds depth to our cooking but also gives us the flexibility to experiment and tweak as per our taste preferences. 

Chicken: Chicken, forms the base of our curry. It’s lean, it’s tender, and when cooked right, it’s downright delicious. Chicken is the canvas upon which the flavours of our curry get painted.  

The meat absorbs the essence of our spices, while its juices lend a richness to the gravy. If you’re more inclined towards a plant-based diet, firm tofu or chickpeas are excellent alternatives to experiment with. 

Onions: This humble vegetable adds sweetness and body to the curry, acting as the primary component of the base. When cooked down, onions caramelize and bring a subtle sweetness that complements the spice and the coconut’s creaminess beautifully. Shallots can also be used for a milder, more delicate flavour. 

Tomatoes: Offering a tangy edge to the dish, tomatoes balance out the spice and the sweet. Their acidic nature adds depth to the overall flavour profile, and their pulpiness helps in creating a thicker gravy. In case of unavailability, tomato paste or canned tomatoes can be substituted in equal proportions. 

Spices: The heart and soul of any curry lies in its spices. Each of these spices contributes to the fiery, aromatic blend that gives the curry its distinctive character.  

Ginger and garlic add a warm zing, turmeric brings a golden hue and earthy flavour, while chilli and cumin provide the heat and smokiness. If any of these are missing from your pantry, garam masala, a blend of several spices, can be used as a quick fix. 

Oil: The medium in which our symphony of flavours comes together. Oil is crucial for cooking down our onions, toasting our spices, and browning our chicken. Vegetable or canola oil are good substitutes for those watching their saturated fat intake. 

Coconut Milk: The star ingredient that gives our curry its name. Coconut milk adds a creamy, luxurious texture and a sweetness that mellows down the spice. If you don’t have coconut milk on hand, a mixture of heavy cream and a little coconut extract can be used. 

Coriander: Fresh coriander leaves serve as a garnish that adds a pop of colour and a burst of freshness. If coriander is too strong for your liking, parsley or fresh mint leaves can be used instead. 

Cooking a stellar Coconut Chicken Curry is all about the magic of these ingredients. Each element brings something unique to the table, creating a symphony of flavours that delights the palate.  

Unveiling the Secret to Perfectly Cooked Chicken in Coconut Curry 

One thing is certain: I have a passionate love affair with food and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t? But this isn’t just any love affair; it’s an intense romance with flavours that transport me to culinary heaven.  

It’s a world where food doesn’t merely satisfy hunger; it satiates the soul. Today, I’ll be sharing a secret that elevates our beloved Coconut Chicken Curry to new heights. 

Now, we all know that the chicken is the mainstay of this recipe, the one that plays the starring role. But like any good actor, the chicken can only truly shine if it’s prepared correctly. The secret to that is marination. 

Marinating chicken isn’t just about slathering it in spices and letting it sit; it’s about allowing those flavours to permeate the meat, giving it a flavour that runs deep.  

By combining the chicken with salt, chilli powder, turmeric, garlic paste, ginger paste, and cumin powder and then leaving it to marinate for at least an hour, we ensure that every bite is a symphony of flavours. 

However, there’s a second part to this secret, and that’s the cooking process. In our recipe, the marinated chicken is added to browned onions and cooked for about 10 minutes.  

It’s essential not to rush this step. It allows the chicken to sear, locking in the juices and ensuring the meat remains tender and succulent. 

The depth of flavour in the marinated chicken and its succulent texture will surely elevate your curry to new levels of deliciousness. After all, it’s the perfectly cooked chicken that makes this curry truly exceptional. 

Exploring the Role of Coconut Milk in the Coconut Chicken Curry 

If there’s one ingredient that binds the fiery spices, tender chicken, and aromatic herbs in our Coconut Chicken Curry, it’s the coconut milk. It’s the culinary magic potion that transforms our dish from ordinary to extraordinary. But what exactly does it do?  

Let’s embark on a gastronomic journey to explore the role of coconut milk in our recipe. 

Coconut milk brings a luxurious, creamy texture to our curry, taming the heat from the spices while imparting a subtle sweetness. The balance it strikes between the spices and the sweetness is what defines the character of our dish. It’s a flavour that’s at once comforting and exotic, soothing yet exciting. 

But coconut milk isn’t just about the flavour; it’s about health too. Rich in vitamins and minerals, it’s a source of healthy fats that are known to boost the immune system and improve heart health. 

What if you don’t have coconut milk on hand? Fear not, there are alternatives. A blend of heavy cream and a dash of coconut extract can mimic the creaminess and the flavour quite well.  

However, do note that this would somewhat change the dish’s authentic taste, but in a pinch, it’s a worthy substitute. 

Coconut milk, plays a crucial role in our Coconut Chicken Curry, balancing flavours, adding creaminess, and packing in a health punch. It’s the ingredient that takes the curry from being simply good to unforgettably fantastic.  

The Power of Spices in the Coconut Chicken Curry 

Every time I delve into a bowl of rich, aromatic Coconut Chicken Curry, I find myself swept away on a culinary adventure. What makes this experience so delightful?  

The answer lies in the heart of the dish – its spices. The symphony of flavours found in the curry is created by the deft interplay of a medley of spices. 

Spices are not mere add-ons; they’re the soul of the curry. They’re the unseen artists who paint an ordinary dish with extraordinary flavours. For our Coconut Chicken Curry, it’s the blend of salt, chilli powder, turmeric, garlic paste, ginger paste, and cumin powder that brings the dish to life. 

Each spice plays a unique role. The salt enhances the natural flavours of the ingredients, the chilli powder brings the heat, while turmeric adds a beautiful golden hue and an earthy flavour.  

Garlic and ginger paste contribute a warm zing, and cumin powder lends a smoky touch. All these spices together create a harmony of flavours that is both complex and balanced, a melody that dances on your palate. 

If you ever find yourself missing a spice or two, a quick hack is to use garam masala. A staple in Indian cooking, this blend of spices can substitute the individual spices quite well, although it may slightly alter the flavour profile of the curry. 

The power of spices in the Coconut Chicken Curry is undeniable. They are the secret behind the incredible depth and breadth of flavours that define this dish. So, respect your spices and use them wisely, because they hold the power to transform your curry from good to phenomenal. 

The Art of Pairing Coconut Chicken Curry 

I’ve often marvelled at how food, much like life, is about the perfect pairing. The main dish and its sidekick, together, create a culinary experience that is greater than the sum of its parts. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the art of pairing our glorious Coconut Chicken Curry. 

The rich, creamy, and spicy Coconut Chicken Curry is a versatile dish that pairs well with a variety of accompaniments. However, my personal favourite has to be homemade naan bread.  

The soft, fluffy naan bread provides a comforting contrast to the robust flavours of the curry. It acts as the perfect vessel to scoop up the curry, ensuring you savour every bit of it. 

Another delightful pairing is with steamed basmati rice. The light, fragrant rice absorbs the flavours of the curry, providing a satisfying counterpoint to the spice and creaminess. It’s a classic combination that never fails to impress. 

If you’re looking to add some crunch to your meal, a side of poppadoms or roasted papad, as they are known in India, can be just what you need. These crispy delights add a textural contrast and their slightly smoky flavour complements the coconut curry beautifully. 

When it comes to pairing, remember it’s all about balance. The aim is to complement and contrast the main dish to create a well-rounded meal.  

The Significance of Onions in Coconut Chicken Curry 

I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve been asked why onions are so important in our Coconut Chicken Curry. Indeed, onions seem like such an ordinary ingredient. Yet, they hold a significant place in the curry world, especially in our recipe. 

The role of onions in our curry is twofold. First, they contribute to the texture of the dish. Browned to perfection, onions add a subtle, natural sweetness and create a robust base that holds together all the other flavours. 

Secondly, onions serve as the bridge between the spices and the chicken. Their presence helps the spices integrate better into the sauce, ensuring the chicken is well-coated and flavoursome. Their pungent aroma and distinctive taste add depth to the curry, making it rich and satisfying. 

While there’s no perfect substitute for onions, in a pinch, shallots can be used. They offer a similar texture and a somewhat comparable flavour profile but bear in mind that the taste will be slightly different. 

The Magic of Fresh Tomatoes in Coconut Chicken Curry 

There’s something undeniably enchanting about the taste of fresh tomatoes. Their tanginess, their slight sweetness, their juicy texture – it all comes together to create a flavour that’s hard to resist.  

In our Coconut Chicken Curry, tomatoes play a crucial role that enhances the overall taste and appearance of the dish. 

What exactly do tomatoes do for our curry? Well, first, they bring a bright burst of colour that makes the dish visually appealing. The red hue contrasts beautifully with the creamy curry, making it look as good as it tastes. 

But the magic of tomatoes extends far beyond their colour. Their natural acidity balances the richness of the coconut milk and the heat from the spices, providing a delightful tanginess that refreshes the palate. 

In case you can’t find fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes can be used as an alternative. They bring a similar tanginess and colour to the curry, although the taste might vary slightly. If you prefer a sweeter profile, sun-dried tomatoes can be a flavourful substitute. 

So, there you have it. Fresh tomatoes, with their vibrant colour and tantalizing tanginess, bring a certain magic to our Coconut Chicken Curry. They balance out the richness, provide a pleasant acidity, and add a splash of colour, enhancing the overall culinary experience.  

Spice up your life with the Heat from Chilli Powder in Coconut Chicken Curry 

Chilli powder. My trusty ally in the kitchen, the spark that can awaken any dish, including our star: the Coconut Chicken Curry. This spice has the ability to transform a meal from plain to extraordinary, and here’s why. 

Chilli powder is like the heartbeat of our curry, pumping life into every single bite. It adds a certain piquancy that elevates the dish, complementing the creaminess of the coconut milk and the sweetness of the onions.  

The heat from the chilli powder creates a beautiful contrast with the other ingredients, resulting in a dish that’s rich in flavour. 

But let’s not forget, it’s not all about heat. Chilli powder also brings a beautiful, vibrant colour to our curry, making it more appealing to the eyes. A feast, after all, should satisfy both the palate and the eyes. 

What if you’re not a fan of too much heat? Here’s where you can get creative. If you prefer a milder curry, you can reduce the amount of chilli powder or opt for a milder variant. On the other hand, if you love a fiery curry, feel free to add a dash more! 

How Coconut Milk Gives the Coconut Chicken Curry its Unique Identity 

If you ask me what sets the Coconut Chicken Curry apart from other curries, I’d say it’s the coconut milk. This ingredient is what gives our curry its unique identity, setting it apart from the crowd. 

Coconut milk lends a luscious creaminess to the curry, making it a delight to savour. It envelopes each piece of chicken, seeping into every crevice and ensuring that every bite you take is bursting with its rich flavour. 

But it’s not just about the creaminess. Coconut milk also brings a slight sweetness that balances the heat from the spices and the tanginess from the tomatoes, resulting in a harmonious blend of flavours. 

Can’t find coconut milk? Don’t worry. You can use heavy cream as an alternative.  

It will give you a similar creaminess, but bear in mind that the flavour profile will change, missing that characteristic hint of coconut. Another alternative is to use a mixture of milk and coconut extract, which could provide a comparable taste. 

The humble coconut milk, with its rich texture and subtle sweetness, plays a vital role in creating the deliciously unique Coconut Chicken Curry we all love. It’s the ingredient that gives the dish its name and its unique identity, turning it from a simple chicken curry into a culinary masterpiece. 

Check Out These Other Recipes 

While you’re here, I want to share some other delicious recipes I’ve whipped up, that will transport your taste buds straight to the heart of Indian cuisine, just like our coconut chicken curry. 

One such recipe is my Chicken Jalfrezi. Similar to our coconut chicken curry, it offers a wonderful symphony of flavours, with a spicy tang that dances on your tongue.  

And if you like the fragrant, sweet undertones of the coconut in our main recipe, you might also enjoy my Chicken Tikka Masala. The creamy tomato sauce, spiced to perfection, is simply divine. 

Next, if you’re a seafood lover, don’t forget to check out my Coconut Prawn Curry. It’s an elegant, tropical twist on our original coconut chicken curry, with succulent prawns replacing the chicken, but still holding onto that gorgeous coconut aroma and flavour. 

Continuing with the poultry theme, my Butter Chicken recipe is a must-try. It’s a classic Indian dish, known for its rich and creamy tomato-based sauce, that pairs perfectly with Naan bread or Basmati rice. 

Lastly, you simply can’t leave without discovering my Chicken Biryani. It’s a gorgeous pot of basmati rice and chicken, fragrantly spiced and cooked to tender perfection. It’s the ultimate comfort food and bears similarities to our coconut chicken curry in terms of the spices and ingredients used. 

These recipes are sure to bring some exciting variety to your dinner table. Don’t hesitate to dive in, and of course, let me know your thoughts in the comments. 

Coconut Chicken Curry

Coconut Chicken Curry

by Nabeela Kauser
Swoop into a world of spicy and sweet flavours with this coconut chicken curry recipe. It's not just about a dish; it's about an aromatic journey to the heart of authentic culinary mastery.
5 from 31 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Marination Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 5
Calories 286 kcal


  • 500 g Chicken
  • 1 Onions
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder Haldi
  • 1 tsp Garlic Paste
  • 1 tsp Ginger Paste
  • 50 ml Oil
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 200 ml Coconut Milk
  • 100 ml Water
  • Coriander


  • In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, garlic paste, ginger paste and cumin powder then leave to marinade for at least an hour
  • In a pan heat up the oil on medium heat until hot
  • Add the onions and fry until browned
  • Add the marinated chicken and cook for 10 minutes
  • Add tomatoes then cover and cook for 5 minutes
  • Add the coconut milk and water then cover again and cook for 15-20 minutes
  • Add coriander to garnish
  • Serve warm with homemade naan bread!



Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 286kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 11gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 516mgPotassium: 357mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 655IUVitamin C: 10mgVitamin D: 0.1µgCalcium: 31mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Chicken, Coconut, Coconut Chicken Curry, Coconut Milk, Curry, Dinner, Food, Spicy
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1 year ago

5 stars
Easy recipe to make and delicious every time!

Welcome to Cook with Nabeela

Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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