easy south indian chicken curry


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

south indian chicken curry and paratha
A while back, I shared a Goan chicken curry recipe with you this time I have another curry recipe that I am very fond of, you will notice some similar and some new ingredients that make this chicken dish so different from the previous. Curries are fascinating because there are so many different varieties based on geography and within those there are even more variations based on the differences in the amount of spices and ingredients that different households use.
Making curry at home is akin to the way in which people prepare chili, you improve your recipe with time, add or leave out ingredients to suit your taste buds, make mental notes on what you would do different the next time. Over time, I’ve simplified the recipe and streamlined some of the prep work to make it easier for me to cook this on a weekday, if my cravings are going to get the better of me. I’ve also lightened the recipe quite a bit by cutting back on the unnecessary fat without compromising on the taste and quality of this delicious curry.

turmeric jar

Whenever, I cook chicken, I prefer to use chicken that’s still attached to the bone and I trim off any visible fat and skin. Chicken that still has the bones gives a much more flavorful stew and soup and the meat gets to be much more tender and tastier. Except for the ground garam masala spice mix, I’ve used whole spices in this recipe, you can remove them before serving but I prefer to leave them in. I feel that leaving the whole spices intact in the curry showcases some of the ingredients and could perhaps even make for an interesting conversation at the table. I like to serve this curry with rice or any type of Indian flat bread like rotis or parathas and even with South Indian dosas and idlis.

For the vegetarian option, you can substitute the chicken with 2 to 3 cups of mixed vegetables of your choice such as peas, carrots, beans, eggplant, sweet potatoes, or squash.

south indian chicken curry

easy south indian chicken curry

yields: 4 to 6 servings


2 lb chicken (I used a mix of thighs, breasts, and drumsticks)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, diced (approximately 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 inch cinnamon stick
4 black peppercorns
6 cloves
4 green cardamoms, cracked with pods
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes or ground chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup freshly grated coconut
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
400 ml light coconut milk
2 teaspoons cilantro leaves, freshly chopped

1. Remove the skin and trim off any excess fat of the chicken pieces and discard. Wipe the chicken pieces with a clean paper towel and keep aside.
2. In a large thick bottomed stockpot, heat the oil on a medium high flame for 40 seconds until hot. Add the red onion and garlic and saute until the onion becomes translucent.
3. Add the cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, garam masala, chili, and turmeric to the pot and cook for another minute. 
4. Add the chicken to the pot and brown for 4 minutes. Stir in the grated coconut and tomato paste and cook for another 1 minute.  Add the salt and coconut milk and bring the contents to a boil on a high flame, immediately reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and cook the chicken for 50 minutes. Once the chicken is completely cooked, taste the curry and adjust with salt if necessary.
5. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and serve hot with rice or bread.

57 Responses

  1. Your photos look so cool and vintage. I don't normally like my photos overly processed, but these look great for your style and blog! I would love to make a vegetarian South Indian curry, it looks delicious with these variety of spices. I bet these are tasty with plenty of veggies (potatoes, peas, etc.)

  2. A beautiful curry! Really droolworthy looking. I could eat that scrumptious dish right now, for breakfast.



  3. I love curries but rarely make them at home. This looks delicious yet fairly simple to make, which I love. Must try!

  4. Thank you so much for the feedback on the photographs.
    Also, I did suggest a vegetarian option as I have made this curry with and without the chicken. But I am glad you pointed it out, I highlighted it to make it a little more obvious.

  5. What I like about your recipes is that you take the time to build up the flavors using a variety of spices – starting with whole spices! – it really sets these dishes apart from the casual curries that home cooks (including me) make. And thanks for the vegetarian sub – that helps me!
    Your pics are just fabulous. But you know that already 🙂

  6. This curry looks delicious and I love the beautiful dishes you have used to accent this dish. Very nicely done!

  7. Great pictures. And great curry! I agree it's a lot like making chili in some ways. I like the idea of leaving some of the spices whole. I sometimes partially grind them, so you still can identify some of the spices, but some are powder. Terrific dish – thanks.

  8. Looks really delicious Nik! I use chicken with bone for cooking too, and my kids don't mind at all because they like the flavor better. Do you think shredded coconut would work? I have never grated fresh one…but maybe it tastes much better with fresh one then I should try this method!

  9. I don't really see garam masala that much in curries so I'm thrilled to find it here because I love it! Gorgeous meal!

  10. Your pictures are so nice. I made chicken 2 weeks ago after so many years.. came out well. I sort of just combined all my favorite spices. Your version looks yummy, never used coconut milk though.

  11. I can almost smell and taste this. I'm trying to learn more about different curries, too, since discovering there are so many variations. I think I like them all though! I agree about the bone in chicken. Love that and dark meat. Looks beautiful, Nik.

  12. I am crazy over curries — they are so hearty and comforting. This one looks like happiness in the plate!

  13. Nik, your work should be in a magazine! Love your photography here. And, I agree with you…cooking bone in chicken yields tender and moist cooked chicken. Also, I like how you offer a vegetarian option. So thoughtful of you concerning special diets. This is comfort food at its finest and reminds me of my favorite Hungarian Chicken Paprikash dish. You are an awesome recipe developer. Thanks ever so much for sharing!

  14. Your pictures are beautiful, the curry looks unbelievable! Anytime I get to take out the turmeric from the cabinet I'm a happy girl! Thanks for sharing this!

  15. That curry looks amazing, your recipes always look so delicious – I will be adding this to "must cook" list. Love the plates you have used in the photos!

  16. I've never had curry but it is definitely something at the top of my "must try" list. I think the flavor profiles would definitely suit me and my tastes. And this one looks absolutely spectacular!

  17. Wow, what a mouthwatering curry! This looks so scrumptious, Nik. My husband would love it!

  18. Thanks Archana, I feel that almost all Indian curries work with most veggies. Thank you so much for your kind comments.

  19. Thank so much for the kind feedback. I am glad you enjoyed the idea of the whole spices in the curry, I think it adds a whole new level of visual texture in addition to flavor.

  20. Nami, I am glad you share my preference for using the meat-on-the-bone technique. Shredded coconut works great here just make sure it is not sweetened.

  21. We love coconut milk in curries. This looks so tempting right now, Nik. All the travel foods are just blah in comparison.

  22. I love curry my kids can tell you about my Captain Curry Chicken wit rice but will be doing brown instead of white love the photo!! Mmmmm scrumptious!!

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