Tender and juicy chicken coated in a spicy, thick masala – what’s not to love? Add some coconut slices to the dish and you’ve got yourself a chicken dry roast – Kerala style.
Before meeting my Keralite hubby, Roby, I had always associated coconuts with sweets. This spicy chicken dish just goes to show that coconuts are awesome in savory dishes too. Coconuts are a staple in Keralite recipes, which is why I think I love the cuisine as much as I do.
You will be tempted to use water when making this recipe. Don’t do it. The mixture is supposed to look really dry. Roasting the spices is what gives this dish it’s unique aroma. When you add the chicken it will release its juices which will give you the moisture you need. If you add any water beforehand, you’ll end up with a chicken curry rather than a dry roast. It’ll still be good… but I think you’ll enjoy the dry roasted chicken more.
Coriander powder is a major player in this dish. If you’re not a fan of coriander leaves (aka cilantro), that doesn’t mean you won’t like coriander powder (ground seeds). I don’t think the two taste anything alike (bold statement, I know). I wouldn’t say I’m crazy about cilantro, but I am a huge fan of the seeds that come from it. Cilantro has a sharp citrus-y flavor to it, whereas the seed is far more mild. Coriander powder has more of a warm and nutty flavor. It’s an awesome spice and it also helps thicken masala dishes.
Another must have ingredient is my homemade meat masala aka Kerala garam masala. You can use this spice mix for so many different recipes (see the list on the meat masala page). It’s made up of fennel, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and black peppercorn. It really adds something special to the dish.
- 6 chicken thighs (almost 2lbs), cut thighs into quarters
- 3 tbs Coconut Oil
- 1 tsp Black Mustard Seeds
- 15–18 Curry Leaves
- 1 serrano pepper, sliced (omit if you don’t want it spicy)
- 2 Dried Red Chillies
- 1 large white onion, sliced
- 2 inch ginger, minced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbs Coriander Powder
- 1 tbs Kashmiri Chili Powder
- 1 tbs homemade meat masala
- 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
- ¼ tsp Fine Sea Salt
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- handful coconut slices (I use frozen slices, you can find them at your local Indian store)
- Heat 2 tbs coconut oil in pan on medium heat and add mustard seeds. Once the seeds start to pop, add curry leaves, serrano pepper and dried red chillies to pan. (You may need to shield for cover when the seeds pop!)
- Add sliced onions to pan and saute. When they begin to turn golden brown, add ginger and garlic.
- Lower heat, add another tablespoon of coconut oil and then add spices: coriander, kashmiri chili, turmeric, salt and homemade meat masala.
- Saute spices for a few minutes and then add the chopped tomato.
- Once the tomato mixture begins to turn brown, add chicken and coconut slices.
- Coat the chicken with the mixture and simmer for about 20 minutes or until done. Stir occasionally.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
Do not add any water, even if mixture seems super dry. When you add the chicken, the meat will release water.