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Traditional Chicken Curry

With layer upon layer of flavour, bags of depth, a hint of sweetness and just the right amount of chilli heat, this is the perfect chicken curry for your menu.

  • Medium
  • Serves 4




  • 75g desiccated coconut
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 whole dried red chillies
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 red onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 6 tbsp fresh curry leaves
  • 8 tomatoes finely chopped
  • 500g boneless chicken thighs (skin removed)
  • 200ml water or chicken stock
  • 1 small bunch fresh coriander finely chopped
  • A squeeze of lemon
  • 1 green chilli finely chopped (optional)


  1. Toast the coconut in a pan over a low heat, stirring until it turns golden brown.

  2. Remove the coconut to a plate and into the same pan add the cinnamon sticks, dried chillies, peppercorns, star anise and fennel seeds. Roast in the pan for 3-4 minutes then add the ground coriander and chilli powder and stir for a minute. Add 100ml of water to form a paste and cook for 2 minutes.

  3. Remove the cinnamon sticks, star anise and whole chillies and keep for later. Add the toasted coconut, turmeric and salt to the pan. Add everything to a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and grind to a smooth paste.

  4. Heat the oil in the same pan and slowly cook the onions until they are soft – this will take about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes then turn up the heat and add the curry leaves and stir for a minute.

  5. Add the tomatoes and the spice paste, return the cinnamon stick, star anise and chillie to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring until you end up with a smooth paste and the oil starts to separate out.

  6. Remove half the mixture and freeze or place in an airtight container which will keep in the fridge for a week or so.

  7. Add the chicken and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Add 200ml chicken stock remove the lid and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

  8. Remove the star anise, cinnamon and chilli, stir through the lemon juice and green chilli (if using) and scatter with the fresh coriander.