Coconut Chicken Fry (South Indian)

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 (South Indian Dish)

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

  1. Heat (a) in a non-stick wok or large saucepan. 
  2. Add (b) to (d) and fry for 20 seconds. 
  3. Add (e) and fry until golden brown. 
  4. Add (f) to (i) and cook for another 2-3 minutes over a low heat, or until the garlic is cooked. 
  5. Add (j) and stir-fry over a moderate-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Both chicken and onions should darkened. 
  6. Add (k) and (l) and enough water to cover the chicken by half. Bring to boil then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. 
  7. Uncover the pan, turn the heat up high and burn off the excess water, stirring often. 
  8. 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. 
  9. Add the coriander, taste and adjust the seasoning and acidity, and serve. 
  10. 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!

coconut chicken fry


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