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Goan-style Chicken with Roasted Coconut

This authentic Goan-style chicken curry recipe is one of Madhur Jaffrey's favourites. The combination of moist chicken, with rich coconut and aromatic spices is irresistible.


I just love this dish. I ate it for the first time in balmy, palm-fringed, coastal Goa, and have been hoarding the recipe ever since. Even though there are several steps to the recipe, it is not at all hard to put together. You could serve this dish with spicy green beans.

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1½ tbsp coriander seeds
1½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
2.5cm (1in) stick cinnamon, broken into 3–4 pieces
4 cloves
¼ tsp black peppercorns
About 1⁄6 nutmeg
1 dried hot red chilli (seeded if you want it mild)
Grated fresh coconut measured to the 450ml (¾ pint) level in a measuring jug
6–8 garlic cloves
2.5cm (1in) cube fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
½–1 fresh hot green chilli
4 tbsp vegetable oil
175g (6oz) onions, minced
1kg (2¼lb) chicken pieces, skinned
1½ tsp salt

Essential kit

You will need a coffee grinder or spice grinder and a blender.


Into a small, preferably cast-iron, frying pan put the coriander seeds, cumin seeds,mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, nutmeg and red chilli. Place the pan over medium heat. Now quickly dry-roast the spices, stirring frequently until they emit a very pleasant ‘roasted’ aroma. Empty the spices into a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder and grind until fine, then place in a bowl.

Put the coconut into the same frying pan and dry-roast it over medium heat, stirring it continuously. The coconut should pick up lots of brown flecks and also smell ‘roasted’. Add to the dry-roasted spices.

Put the garlic, ginger and green chilli into a blender along with 4 tablespoons water. Process to a paste.

Put the oil in a 25–30cm (10–12in) frying pan over medium–high heat.When the oil is hot, put in the onions and cook until they pick up brown spots. Now pour in the garlic–ginger mixture from the blender and stir once. Lower the heat to medium. Put in the chicken pieces, salt and the spice–coconut mixture. Stir-fry the chicken for 3–4 minutes or until it loses its pinkness and turns slightly brown.

Add 300ml (½ pint) water and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan tightly, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 25–30 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Stir a few times during cooking, turning over each piece of chicken so that it colours evenly. Fish out the cinnamon pieces before serving.

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