My domestic helper just came back from a one-month holiday in her husband’s hometown – Mangalore (in the state of Karnataka). Mangalore is a port city with a tropical monsoon climate (think coconut trees, seafood… :)). This morning, she gifted us with some beautiful red dried chillies, sundried whitebait and freshly-grated coconut from the hometown, and I just had to make coconut chicken fry.
Grated coconut features heavily in many South Indian dishes and one of my favourite ways to cook with it is in a coconut chicken fry.
Coconut chicken fry is essentially chicken pieces fried in spices and grated coconut. Anjum’s New Indian has a healthier version of this dish. Instead of deep-frying the chicken, her recipe calls for dry-frying the chicken in spices, followed by simmering with some water, before cooking the chicken over high-heat to evaporate the water and tossing in the grated coconut for a final stir-fry. The succulent chicken paired with the fragrant, slightly crunchy grated coconut makes for a very finger-licking experience.
Prep 20 mins
Cook 30-40 mins
Serves 3 as part of a meal
Source Anjum’s New Indian (slight modifications made)
(a) 3 tbsp coconut oil
(b) 5cm piece of cinnamon stick
(c) 6 green cardamom pods
(d) 6 cloves
(e) 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
(f) 12 curry leaves
(g) 3 green chillies, whole
(h) 10g ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
(i) 6 fat cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
(j) 750g chicken legs (around 3 chicken legs), jointed and skinned, cleaned and patted dry
(k) 1/2 tsp salt
(l) 1 tsp garam masala
(m) 150g fresh grated coconut
(n) 1 tsp garam masala
(o) 2 tsp lemon juice
(p) small handful of fresh coriander leaves and stalks, chopped
- Heat (a) in a non-stick wok or large saucepan.
- Add (b) to (d) and fry for 20 seconds.
- Add (e) and fry until golden brown.
- Add (f) to (i) and cook for another 2-3 minutes over a low heat, or until the garlic is cooked.
- Add (j) and stir-fry over a moderate-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Both chicken and onions should darkened.
- Add (k) and (l) and enough water to cover the chicken by half. Bring to boil then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Uncover the pan, turn the heat up high and burn off the excess water, stirring often.
- Once there is almost no water left in the pan, add (m) to (o). Stir-fry to mix, cover and cook until the chicken is tender, another few minutes or so.
- Add the coriander, taste and adjust the seasoning and acidity, and serve.
- If you wish, scatter extra coconut over the top to garnish.
Enjoy your coconut fry with some plain rice or even as a main dish on its own!