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Chicken in roasted coconut gravy (Khozi varatharacha curry)

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

I was craving a chicken curry that was in a South Indian style, and this recipe satisfied that hunger. The curry is quite easy to make, the only step that needs care is the roasting of the fresh grated coconut. The fresh coconut tends to stick to the pan so I roasted it on a low flame stirring quite often so the coconut gratings were caramelized evenly. This is a very traditional and richly flavored curry from the Mapilla community. The roasted coconut adds a wonderful caramelized flavor and a spices and chilies round off the curry with a nice lingering mild heat. The curry is quite decadent because of the coconut so watch out for that aspect. However, this curry is delicious and makes for a wonderful treat occasionally.

Check out this additional Mapilla recipe for Malabar mutton curry and more on this culture on this blog. This cookbook is from the master of Mapilla cuisine, Umma Abdulla. The recipes are unique and this wonderful cookbook goes into descriptions of the cuisine and cooking techniques of this culture. This book is a must have for those who want to a specialized cookbook on this cuisine.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.

1/2 lb chicken of your choice. I generally use a mix of breast, thigh and leg pieces

1 1/2 cups grated coconut

1 teaspoon anise seed

2 onions, sliced fine

1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste

2-4 green chilies, halved, or to taste

2 tomatoes, diced into small cubes

3 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

8-10 curry leaves

2 teaspoons ginger paste

2 teaspoons garlic paste

1 tablespoon cilantro, minced

2 tablespoons ghee or oil

Salt to taste

Mix the chicken with the onions, ground coriander, chilies, turmeric and salt and marinate for 30 minutes or over night, strongly preferred. Toast the grated coconut on a pan on medium heat till it gets a light brown. Set aside to cool. Toast the anise seeds till lightly, set aside to cool. Combine the coconut and anise seed and grind to a fine paste in a blender using as little water as possible. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender a few times to get a smooth paste.

Add the oil to a pot and add the whole spices, cinnamon stick, cloves, and curry leaves, and sauté for 1 minute. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and cook for another 1-2 minutes on medium heat till they smell aromatic and cooked. Add the coconut paste and sauté for 3-4 minutes till the oil begins to shine on the surface of the paste and it is well cooked.

Add the chicken and cook till the chicken is lightly browned on the surface, about 5 minutes. Take care stir often and not burn the spice paste. Add the tomatoes and the water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 30-40 minutes till the chicken is ver tender and almost dropping off the bone. At this stage you should have a thickened curry that coats the chicken well. Taste and adjust for salt.

Serve hot topped with the minced cilantro with rice or steamed breads.

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