South Indian Style Chicken Curry

South Indian style chicken curry recipe

The Spruce / Chosen Posture

  • Total: 80 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 70 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings

A southern Indian style dish inevitably conjures up thoughts of the tangy tastes of kokum and tamarind, tempered by the creamy smoothness of coconut cream. This treat, while Southern Indian in origin, is a variation. With an emphasis on fragrant whole spices, it has a fair amount of delicious, silky gravy.

This South Indian chicken curry is a great dish for entertaining and can be part of a lavish menu. As with most south Indian delicacies, it goes really well with simple, plain basmati rice and a vegetable of your choice.


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  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 6 tbsp ghee/vegetable/canola/sunflower cooking oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2” piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1.5 kgs chicken (skin removed bone still in and cut into small serving pieces)
  • 2 medium-sized onions (peeled and cut into thin slices)
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic (peeled and cut into slivers)
  • 1 tsp peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3 medium-sized tomatoes (chopped fine)
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 400 ml can of coconut milk
  • 2 to 3 fresh green chilies (split in half lengthwise)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Set a small cast-iron frying pan/skillet up to heat over medium to high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

  3. Put the coriander seeds, the fenugreek seeds, and the black peppercorns into it and dry roast till slightly darker and fragrant.

  4. Remove the spices from the pan and leave them to cool slightly.

  5. When cooled, grind the roasted spices to a fine powder in a clean, dry coffee grinder. Keep aside for later use.

  6. Pour the ghee/vegetable/canola/sunflower cooking oil into a wide pan and set up to heat on medium-high heat.

  7. When the oil is hot, add in the black mustard seeds and the cinnamon stick. 

  8. As soon as the mustard seeds start to splutter, add in the chicken pieces in a single layer.

  9. Brown the chicken pieces in as many batches as required, always keeping them to a single layer on the pan. When done, remove to a separate bowl to rest.

  10. Stir in the onions and garlic into the same pan and turn heat to medium.

  11. Stir often/sauté till the onions are light brown in color.

  12. Add the ginger, garlic, and tomatoes, stir, and cook till the tomatoes have turned soft and mushy.

  13. Reduce the heat and add the roasted spice mixture/powder made earlier as well as the turmeric, red chili powder, salt, and lemon juice and stir.

  14. Remove the thick cream portion on top of the coconut milk and keep aside.

  15. Add water to the can of coconut milk to fill it to the top, stir to mix with the coconut milk already in the can and add this mixture onto the chicken and bring to a boil.

  16. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring every now and again.

  17. Stir up the thick coconut cream that was set aside, and add that along with the green chilies to the chicken.

  18. Stir a few times and when the coconut cream warms through, turn off the heat and serve.

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