Chicken Curry in a hurry for Kerala Kitchen

There are those days when you imagine yourself to be the next Julia Child and whip up delicious and elaborate meals with a smile on your face. Then there are those days-when all you want to do at the end of a long and tiring day where everything went wrong, is to eat a hearty dinner and curl up in bed. Those days when cooking, especially a curry with all that frying of onions and masalas, and all the clean up after seems insurmountable.

On those days I call for greasy take out make Pal Pizinja Kozhi Curry ( Chicken curry in coconut milk) an everyday Syrian Christian Chicken Curry that my mom made very often, and now I do too.

It is flavourful, hearty, dish with chicken and potatoes cooked in spices, ginger, garlic and coconut milk until tender and fragrant. It is everything that a good curry should be and warms you up, so that you feel that all is right with the world again!
And let me just say- this curry? this miraculous curry? it involves NO FRYING! And the best part, it can be made in about 15-20 MINS of active effort ( If you use tinned coconut milk and ginger garlic paste- or if you mince them like a Ninja!) and it is a ONE POT dish. Meaning you throw in a few simple pantry staples into a large pot or pressure cooker, leave to cook and then add some coconut milk. That's it. Dinner is done!

I can't believe I haven't posted this before since I make it so often, but good thing I remembered this just in time for Kerala Kitchen- my monthly food blogging event featuring dishes inspired by Kerala.

Updated on 09/14/2011: My friend Xialou pointed out that the amount of garlic I had suggested was way too much for the curry and she is right, so I am cutting it back to about 2- 4 cloves and if you really like garlic (like us) maybe add some more. Correcting the quantity in the recipe below. Apologies if you tried this and found it too garlicy :(

Pal Pizinja Kozhi Curry ( Chicken Curry in Coconut Milk)

This is a quick and easy coconut milk based chicken curry from Kerala

Recipe Source: My Mom

Prep time: 15 mins to overnight marination Cook time: 30 mins approx Total time: 45 mins Active cooking time 15-20 mins


  • Skinless chicken pieces, preferably with bone ( Or you could use 3 large chicken breasts) cut into bite sized pieces  :  1.5 pounds
  • Salt : 1 tsp
  • Red chilly powder : 1 tsp 
  • Turmeric : 1 tsp
( Rub the above masalas on the chicken and leave it to marinate while you prep the following ingredients or even overnight)
  • Onion- sliced into long thin strips or chopped : 1 large 
  • Coconut milk : 2 cups fresh or 1 tin 
  • Thai Green chillies- slit in half : 4
  • Garlic- sliced thinly : 2-4 cloves ( can use 2 tsp garlic paste instead)
  • Fresh ginger : 1 small piece ( about half the size of your thumb)-  peel and smash with the flat of your knife (or you could use 2 tsp ginger paste instead)
  • Medium potatoes cut into cubes :
  • Curry Leaves: 6-7
  • Water : 1/2 cup 
  • Hard boiled eggs (Optional) : 3

  • Red Chilly powder : 1 1/2 tsp 
  • Turmeric : 1 tsp
  • Salt : 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder : 1 1/2 tsp
  • Pepper: 1/4 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1 1/2 tsp ( grinding whole spices is best, if you have a spice grinder, else store bought garam masala powder can be used) 
  • Rub the chicken with the chilly pwd, turmeric and salt and leave to marinate while you prep the remaining ingredients, or even overnight in the fridge. 
  • Slice the onion, ginger, and green chillies.
  • In a pressure cooker or a pot with a lid , sear the marinated chicken in about 2 tbsp of oil a skillet until browned. They need not be cooked, just browned lightly on the sides.
  • Mix in the masalas with the chicken and with the onions, garlic and ginger, chillies and potatoes in the pressure cooker /deep pot with a lid. Don't cook the masalas, simply mix them well at this stage to combine everything. You can use a spoon or your hands to be more thorough.
  • Add 1/2 a cup of water along with 1/2 cup of the *second extraction of coconut milk- if using tinned, add the thinner milk found at the bottom of the tin under the thicker creamy part- this is because the thick cream may curdle. The easy way to do this is to simply turn the tin upside down and then open so that you can pour out the thinner coconut milk first.
  • Mix and pressure cook on medium heat until the first whistle.Then lower the heat and cook for about 10 more minutes. If you are not using a pressure cooker, just cook until the chicken is done and the potatoes are tender enough for a fork to go through easily.
  • Now carefully run the pressure cooker over running water and take off the whistle and open. The potatoes should be cooked through and the chicken should be white and no longer pink.
  • Put the pressure cooker back on the heat without the lid. Add the remaining tin of coconut milk along with the thick coconut cream that normally accumulates at the top op the tin, stir and simmer for about 10 mins.

Note: Second extraction simply means the thinner, watery coconut milk that results after the thicker creamier milk has been squeezed out. If you are using tinned coconut milk, use the thinner milk found at the bottom of the tin, by turning the tin over before opening it.

I like to add some hard boiled eggs and serve it with Malabar parottas, stringhoppers, rotis, rice or even bread. This curry can also be made with beef ( In which case the beef can be roasted for deeper flavour) instead of chicken or with vegetables like carrots, potatoes, beans etc. Am sending this hearty chicken curry to our monthly cooking event Kerala Kitchen

This recipe was tried, tested and approved by reader Yogitha and here is her photograph:

Here is what she had to say: "... it turned out well and I luvd the taste :) managed to get some compliments from my family too ...all thanks to you :)))"

Thank you so much my dear!Am so glad you and your family liked it and so happy that you took the time to let me know!  


  1. Wow,this looks like another curry I would love to try!

  2. I tried this, came out really well! Thank you. A question, what garam masala are you referring to? Whole or store bought powder?

  3. Thanks so much for trying it, I am glad you liked it. It's one of my favourites too! I use the garam masala my mother grinds at home which I will post the proportions to soon and link here, but store bought which I also use sometimes is ok too.

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