Chicken in Coconut Milk

Chicken in Coconut Milk.jpg

This dish is not spicy, but it has layers of flavour. Chicken thighs or legs are best here; breasts tend to dry out.

Servings: 4


  • Salt to taste
  • 2 lbs (1 kg) chicken thighs on the bone, skin on, trimmed


  • 1 tbsp finely grated garlic
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 6 candlenuts or Brazil nuts, finely grated (about 16 tsp)
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil


  • 1 400 ml can coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 stem lemongrass, bulb end only
  • 6 curry leaves
  • 5-cm piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp tamarind concentrate dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves


Salt chicken pieces. Combine the first seven paste ingredients in a bowl. Add oil and stir into a paste. Set aside half of the paste. Combine 3 tbsp coconut milk with remaining paste for marinade. Spoon over chicken and marinate for 1 hour.

Add 1/4 inch oil to small heavy pot over high heat. When oil is hot, add sliced onion, working in batches, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Reserve.

Add 2 tbsp oil to skillet over high heat. Add chicken pieces in batches and fry for 2 minutes per side or until they are browned. Remove chicken to a plate and reserve.

Return skillet to stove and reduce heat to medium-low. Add chopped onions and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Smash lemongrass with back of a knife. Stir in rest of coconut milk, curry leaves, lemongrass, cinnamon, 1 tbsp tamarind liquid and reserved spice paste. Return chicken to pan and bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is still a little pink. Stir in coconut cream and chicken stock. Bring to boil. Continue to cook covered for 10 more minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and its juices run clear.

Remove from heat. Stir in remaining tamarind liquid and season to taste with salt. Remove whole spices. Garnish with fried onions and cilantro.