Kerala chicken curry, also called nadan chicken curry is a specialty of Kerala, one of the Southern Indian states. This simple chicken curry is full of delicious flavors from coconut oil, fresh coconut, fennel seeds and other Indian spices.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Kerala style chicken curry is yet another of my easy chicken recipes you can eat for a weeknight dinner. Made with simple ingredients, this yummy nadan kozhi curry may become your favorite curry recipe.
Forget those smooth and creamy curries. Okay fine, you’ll love the creamy palak kofta curry, chicken kofta curry and dal palak, too.
But here we’re talking about spicy, rustic nadan chicken curry with rich flavors of Kerala like coconut and fennel seeds. Similar to varutharacha kozhi curry.
You’ll realize the uniqueness of this curry right from when you smell the aroma of the onions being sautéed in coconut oil. And also when you bite into delicious small bits of browned shallots and curry leaves.
This is yet another of my mom’s recipes, like the sprouted moong curry, a recipe I modified by sprouting mung beans.
But this “nadan kozhi kari” recipe is the original one without any changes. As authentic as nadan fish curry with coconut, Mangalore fish curry and Kerala parippu curry. Straight from the state of Kerala to your table!
(You can find the exact measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this page.)
Making this nadan kozhi curry is straightforward, though it involves quite a few spices. (Unlike the 5-ingredient chicken curry)
- Chicken: Use bone-in pieces for curries, since bones add to the flavor. I’ve used bone-in thighs here, as in pepper chicken curry. You can also use other cuts of chicken. (Check the recipe tips below for details.)
- Coconut oil: most of the kerala recipes use coconut oil. (Kerala egg roast is a good example.) It gives a sort of richness to the curry. Coconut oil to a Kerala curry is like mustard oil to a tikka or kabab.
- Onions: you’ll need red onions for the gravy base and pearl onions for tempering. If you don’t have pearl onions, they can be replaced with regular white or red onions.
- Fresh coconut: This recipe uses coconut paste made by blending grated coconut or chunks of coconut. If not available, use store-bought coconut cream.
- Fennel seeds and curry leaves: Apart from coconut and coconut oil, nadan chicken curry gets its characteristic taste from these two ingredients. You can still make the curry without them, but you won’t get the taste of “Kerala curry”.
- Chili powder: I’ve used regular chili powder for heat and Kashmiri chili powder for the color. If you don’t want the heat but would like your curry to look fiery and spicy, you can use Kashmiri chili powder to replace the regular one.
But then it wouldn’t be the authentic Kerala chicken curry that we love, right? It’s up to you to decide.
How To Make Kerala Chicken Curry- step by step
Marinate The Chicken
Marinate chicken thighs with Kashmiri chili powder, garam masala, salt, pepper and lemon juice for a minimum of 30 minutes. If time permits, marinate overnight in the fridge.
Make The Gravy
- Heat coconut oil in a deep pot. Sauté onions and curry leaves for a couple of minutes, until onions are browned.
- Add minced ginger and garlic and sauté until it browns.
- Add marinated chicken thighs and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Mix in water and the spices. Set the flame to high and bring it to a boil.
- Cover and simmer on low flame for 15 minutes.
Make Coconut Paste
- Blend fresh grated coconut (or chunks) with fennel seeds and water.
- Add the coconut paste and garam masala to the simmering curry and cook covered for another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients for tempering.
Tempering The Nadan Curry
- Heat coconut oil in a pan or wok. Sauté dry chilies, curry leaves and finely chopped pearl onions until well-browned.
- Mix into the curry and turn off the flame.
Tips To Make The Best Nadan Chicken Curry
- Marinating: Try to marinate the chicken as long as possible. Marinating overnight gives the best results. I might sound like a broken record here, repeating this in many of my chicken recipes like jeera chicken with yogurt, chicken tikka and hariyali kabab. But it is a foolproof way to make flavorful chicken.
- Making the gravy: The taste of this chicken curry depends on how long you patiently sauté the ingredients before adding water. Use medium-low flame and fry patiently until the onions turn translucent and the chicken changes color.
- Cooking time: The time I’ve mentioned here is for medium-sized bone-in thigh pieces. Adjust the simmering time based on the size of the chicken pieces. It’s better to check the chicken for doneness after 10 minutes of simmering the curry. The chicken should almost fall apart when you apply pressure with a spoon.
- Tempering: Ensure that the pearl onions are well-browned for that smoky-sweet flavor.
- Cayenne pepper and paprika can be used as substitutes for chilli powder and Kashmiri chili powder respectively.
- For extra flavor: Add a dollop of the Indian curry paste when you add spices to the gravy.
Printable Curry Paste Recipe
Grab a printable copy of the curry paste that helps home cooks like you cook different curries in 30 minutes or less:
What To Serve With Nadan Kozhi Curry
Typically, nadan chicken curry is served with plain boiled white/red/brown rice. (I use a mix of white and brown rice to balance taste and nutrition.)
If you’re on a keto or low carb diet, pair this curry with coconut cauliflower rice or lemon garlic quinoa.
You can also serve it with dosa, pathiri, appam, parotta or chapathi.
None of those are available in your kitchen? No worries.
Eat this Kerala style chicken curry with any bread of your choice. You just need SOMETHING to dunk into this deliciousness!
Health Benefits of Coconut
- Coconut is a high fat fruit that is highly nutritious and has been associated with a wide range of health benefits.
- In particular, coconut is rich in antioxidants, has powerful antibacterial properties, and may support better blood sugar control.
- Coconuts are low in carbs and high in fiber and fat, which may be beneficial for blood sugar control.
- Although coconut meat is high in fat, it also contains MCTs, which are metabolized differently than other types of fat. The meat also provides carbs and protein along with many essential minerals, such as manganese, copper, iron, and selenium.
- Coconuts contain polyphenol antioxidants that can help protect your cells from damage, which may aid in the prevention of chronic disease.
Love coconut? You might want to try this yummy mango pomegranate salad with coconut.
However, coconut is very high in fat and calories, so be sure to moderate your intake if you are trying to lose weight or need to follow a low fat diet.
More (bone-in) Chicken Recipes
- Roasted tandoori chicken legs
- Lemon balsamic chicken with rosemary sauce
- Sheet pan roasted chicken and potatoes
- Easy baked hariyali chicken
Boneless Chicken Recipes
- Easy baked chicken breasts
- Tandoori chicken tikka
- Minced chicken kebab recipe
- Thai chicken green curry
- Better-than-takeout sesame chicken
- Lemon coriander chicken with mustard sauce
- Cauliflower rice chicken biryani
- Chicken stir fry with red rice
- Keema chicken with eggs.
More Curry Recipes
Easy Varutharacha Chicken Curry
Healthy Palak Kofta Curry (Vegan Recipe)
Easy Mutton Masala (Goat Masala) in Pressure Cooker
Easy Mangalore Fish Curry With Coconut Milk
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Hi! I’m Sheeba, welcome to Go Healthy ever after!
I have a passion for cooking delicious nourishing food that’s easy to cook with fresh natural ingredients free from additives or preservatives. The easy healthy recipes you find here will inspire you to cook with creativity.
2 thoughts on “Kerala Chicken Curry With Coconut (Nadan Kozhi Kari)”
I love Keralan style curries – the coconut creaminess is totally my thing. But I don’t often make this style at home but this was really delicious and easy to make too.
I totally agree! The creamy coconut makes all the difference to this curry.