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Kerala Chicken

Kerala Chicken

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This Kerala chicken recipe, like most of my recipes, is a combination of a load of recipes I have read and used from books and on the net.

This dish is creamy with strong flavours of garlic, spices and coconut, it combines local elements such as coconut, turmeric and coriander with elements from the west such as peppers and tomatoes, brought by the Portuguese and others. Kerala was colonised by the Portuguese in the late 16th century and a lot of western influences remain in this region and Kerala chicken is typical of this fusion. Their food does tend to be quite fiery but there is nothing to stop you making it less so.

Basic Ingredients

1lb (450gm) chicken.
2 medium onions.
5 cloves garlic.
1 inch (2.5cm) root ginger
Fresh green chillis
2 large plum tomatoes or 200gm tinned tomatoes
1 bell pepper
2 tablespoons yoghurt
1 cup thick coconut milk
Oil for cooking

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
teaspoon peppercorns
teaspoon turmeric
teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
teaspoon crushed dried chillis

Notes on Ingredients

Chicken. I usually use chicken breasts for this but you can use any cuts of chicken

Chillis. 3 finger chillis will make this quite hot - use more or less to suit.

Bell peppers. Any colour will do - or use half and half, red & green.

Coconut milk. Use from a can, make your own from desiccated coconut or use a creamed coconut sachet.

Oil. Coconut oil is the obvious choice and is very good. Also mustard oil is good. Ghee or other oils are ok

Basic Method

Cut up the chicken into bigish chunks - set aside in a bowl and sprinkle with salt
Peel and chop the onions
Peel the garlic and ginger
Make a paste from the garlic, onions and chillis and set aside
Cut the peppers into thin strips about 1 inch long.
Skin and chop up the tomatoes
Make the coconut milk (or open the tin as appropriate)
Put the coriander, peppercorns and desiccated coconut in a dry frying pan and roast till the coconut turns slightly brown
Allow to cool and grind these to a powder

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the onions until soft
Put in the garlic, ginger, chilli paste and fry fro a minute more
Add the ground spices, stir in and fry for another two minutes.
Stir in the chicken and cook till it turns white.
Add the peppers and tomatoes and heat for five minutes
Add the coconut milk, turn down the heat, cover and cook for about 30 minutes checking that it does not boil dry.

Notes on Method

Kerala Chicken is pretty straightforward once you have everything prepared. You can also marinade the chicken with the garlic, ginger and chilli paste if you want.

You can stir in a teaspoon of garam masala near the end of cooking if you wish and you can garnish with coriander leaves.

Other garnishes I have seen are chopped, fried shallots, curry leaves and slices of boiled egg

Kerala chicken would normally be eaten with plain boiled rice and the quantities here would serve about 4 adults. Pakoras make a good side dish for this

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