Kerala Style Chicken curry (coconut sauce)

For Amma, with love.


Yesterday, 26th November, marked 4 years since my Amma passed away. I usually dread the days leading to this date. I’m awfully low, non-engaging and moody around this time. I guess, everyone has their own way of grieving.  I just feel a great sense of loss- one that weighs me down, I’m not sure I will ever be able to explain it in plain words. It just comes and hits like a wave.

Amma and Appa in 1981 (shortly after their wedding)

But this post is not about being sad. This post is about being happy in spite of this terrible loss. I’m mourning the loss of my Amma but I’m also celebrating her life. By being happy. My sister made me realise this. This very important thing-she told me that Amma would want us to be happy and cheerful. She would be content and proud of us and our achievements, had she been alive.

Coming to think of it, the pain, the sense of loss and hollowness from the death of a loved one is so great, so profound, it often casts a dark shadow over the past happier times. Truth is, I got to spend 27 years with her and had the opportunity to know her and love her for being my mom. Now, being a woman and mother myself, I admire her for the woman she was, with so many positive attributes. She was so family-oriented, always keeping everyone’s need ahead of hers.

I value her life lessons and the many sacrifices she has made for our family. Such a go-getter my Amma was. Bold and brave, fearless almost. She was such a strong and loving mother, she always stood by us. She had a gorgeous smile and reassuring countenance- many people still fondly remember her for it. I cooked this curry as an ode to her.

About this chicken curry, this is not a dish she taught me to cook nor a dish she made herself. Although, she experimented and cooked a variety of dishes from other parts of India, she mainly cooked traditional Keralan food, as our family is originally from Kerala. This curry has a lot of elements used in traditional Keralan food. Malayali people love food that is cooked in coconut milk and I know, she would have enjoyed it too.


This is a mildly spiced, creamy coconut curry and the chicken is braised perfectly in the sauce. It is soft, tender and immensely flavourful. Don’t be fooled by how simple this curry sounds!

To make this curry,

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Can feed upto 4 people!


  • Chicken- 450-500grams, medium chicken pieces, cleaned and skin removed
  • Red onion- 1 nos, cut vertically and sliced thinly in half-moons
  • Ginger- 1-1 ½ inch pieces, finely chopped
  • Garlic- 7-8 pieces, finely chopped
  • Fresh curry leaves- 15-20 leaves
  • Coconut milk- ½- ¾ cup (fresh or canned)
  • Kashmiri red chilli powder- 2 tsp (use more or less, as per liking)
  • Black mustard seeds- ½ tsp
  • Whole cumin seeds- ½ tsp
  • Salt- 1 tsp (add another ½ if needed towards the end)
  • Oil- 2-3 tbsp (coconut or any vegetable oil)



  1. Place a medium sized deep saucepan on medium heat, add the oil and bring it to a smoking point. Add the mustard seeds, whole cumin seeds and curry leaves and give it a quick stir. Since, the oil is really hot, the mustard seeds will splutter and soon begin to burn, so keep all the other ingredients close by.
  2. Once, that’s done, add the sliced onions and sauté them till they are slightly golden-brown. Our goal is not to brown them-just to cook them till they are done.
  3. Add a sprinkle of water on the onions and then add the chicken pieces. This will make sure the chicken doesn’t stick to the hot pan. Next, add the red chilli powder and salt and give it a good mix. Sauté for 1-2 minutes on medium heat. This will seal the outsides of the chicken pieces.
  4. Add 1 cup of warm or hot water to the saucepan and mix well. bring it up to a boil and lower the heat to low-medium. Cover and cook for 18-20 minutes or until the chicken pieces are well cooked.
  5. Open the lid from the sauce pan and cook out some of the water from the curry. Do this on medium-high heat for around 1-2 minutes.
  6. Remove the sauce pan from the heat and add the coconut milk in it. Keep stirring the sauce as you add in the coconut milk so that the milk doesn’t separate or curdle.
  7. Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook for 1 minute and then remove to serving dish. Done!


This is a very simple and flavourful dish that really goes well with white steamed rice or even with dosa or kerala parotta. Resist the urge to add green chillies, masala mixes or garnishes of any kind. Sometimes, simple is best!

Amma was a woman who was well-loved and is thoroughly missed by all her loved ones and friends. I miss her presence but I will always celebrate her and the time I’ve had with her. I hope you make this curry and enjoy it with your family and friends.

Thanks for coming over to my blog,

Susan A



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Rhea says:

    This is such a sweet way to honour her legacy, Susan chechi!


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