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Bowl full of Kerala chicken curry garnished with fried shallots, mustard seed and fried curry leaves - from above.
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4.96 from 22 votes

kerala chicken curry - Indian hotel style

Kerala chicken curry is loaded with big South Indian flavours. A final tempering gives this curry an extra kick.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: kerala chicken curry, nadan kozhi
Servings: 2
Calories: 745kcal
Author: romain | glebekitchen


kerala masala

  • 1 1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seed
  • 2 tbsp coriander seed
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 inch cinnamon bark also known as cassia
  • 1 star anise
  • 8 cloves
  • 8 green cardamom pods

The spice mix

  • 2 1/2 tsp kerala masala - the ground spice. See above
  • 1 1/2 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp kasoor methi - dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

kerala chicken curry

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil - any neutral oil will also work or even 1/2 and 1/2 coconut and neutral oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste - recipe link below
  • the spice mix from above
  • 2-3 finger hot (jwala) green chilies cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 5 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 cup Indian hotel curry gravy - don't worry if it seems too thick. The juices from the chicken will thin it out.
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste - or tamarind pulp if you make it yourself. Tamarind concentrate is not the same thing as tamarind paste. Watch out for that.
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 4 pieces each
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 10 fresh curry leaves
  • 1/2 shallot thinly sliced


Make the kerala masala

  • Pre-heat a small skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Add the spices to the skillet.
  • Toast, shaking the pan, until they start to get fragrant. This should take a two or three minutes.
  • Let cool and grind to a fine powder. I like a coffee grinder for this. The old ones with the blade work well. Bad for coffee. Great for spices.
  • You won't need anywhere near all of it so transfer it to a jar with a tight fitting lid and store in a cool, dark place. Use it as a funky peppery garam masala if you like.

Do your prep

  • Measure out your spice mix. Stem your curry leaves. Prep your chicken. Measure out a cup (237 ml) of Indian hotel curry gravy. Cut up your green chilies. Slice your shallot.
  • Have your garlic ginger paste, tamarind and coconut milk handy. You're good to go now.

Make your tempering

  • Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil over medium low heat in the same little pan you used to toast the spices.
  • Add the shallots and cook until the shallots start to brown.
  • Add the mustard seed and about 10 curry leaves and cook until the shallots are nicely brown. Set aside.

Make the kerala chicken curry

  • Heat the oil in a medium sized frying pan until the oil just starts to shimmer.
  • Stir in the garlic ginger paste. Gently fry until the garlic ginger paste stops sputtering. This can get a little messy.
  • Turn your heat down to medium low and add your spice mix and the remaining 5 curry leaves. Cook for about 30 seconds. You want to fry your spices in the oil. Don't skimp on the oil. Bad things happen if the spices stick and burn.
  • Add the green chilies. Cook another 30 seconds or so.
  • Add the Indian hotel curry gravy. Stir it really well to get the oil to combine with the curry gravy. You want everything mixed together at this point. Bring to a simmer.
  • Add the chicken thigh pieces in a single layer. Nestle them down into the sauce. Cover and cook about 5 minutes. Remove the cover, flip the chicken and recover. Cook until the chicken is done. Use an instant read thermometer if you have one. You are shooting for an internal temperature of 160F. It will get to 170F as the curry finishes cooking.
  • Add the tamarind paste and coconut milk. Stir well to combine.
  • Look at the consistency. If you are happy with it, cover and simmer for 2 minutes. If it's too thick, add a bit of water and stir to combine. If it's too thin don't cover it to let it reduce.
  • While the curry is in it's final simmer, warm up the tempering over low heat.
  • Transfer the kerala chicken curry to a serving dish and drizzle/sprinkle it with the tempering.
  • Kerala chicken curry is great with rice and chapatis or parathas.


Make your Indian hotel curry gravy ahead of time. It does take time to make so think about doing it the day before.
For maximum flavour consider making your garlic ginger paste from scratch.
1 cup is 237 ml.
You may notice there’s no tomato paste or passata in this recipe. That's because the tomato flavour comes from the hotel curry gravy. It’s there already.


Serving: 2servings | Calories: 745kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 56g | Saturated Fat: 34g | Cholesterol: 161mg | Sodium: 1261mg | Potassium: 1021mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 692IU | Vitamin C: 119mg | Calcium: 178mg | Iron: 7mg