Monthly Archives: January 2011

Chicken in Coconut Gravy

Have you ever waited around and waited around and waited around for something to happen and it didn’t, so you just piped up and did it yourself?  At work, years ago, we shared monthly pot luck meals.  There was usually a theme, but that was not necessary.  It was just so comforting to share a good meal with people that depend on each other every day.  But the organizer moved away, and stuff happened, and times got rough with the economy, and I wondered what I could do to bring back shared warm experiences with this group of people.  Gathering a few partners in crime, we just set up dates and themes for the year, and voila, food and people appeared!  Food and stories are once again being shared, and we’re just enjoying some relaxing time together.  Mission accomplished.

A bonus to being part of creating themes is that my favorites get included!  We all love the fresh produce in the area, so salad bars and finger foods always include amazing local delectable treats.  This group loves soup, so that will be one theme.  But me?  I just love stuff over rice.  Veggies over rice, stir fry over rice, and especially curry over rice.  Luckily, a friend renamed it “goodness over rice” which was a wonderful advertising improvement.  This is my favorite curry recipe from my favorite curry cookbook that has been reworked for my own home kitchen and was well received at our shared meal.  And isn’t that what it is all about anyway?  Sharing food, sharing stories, and sharing time together.

Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry

Adapted from the recipe “chicken in thick coconut gravy” in 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi


  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup almond flour (almonds pulverized in a spice grinder until powdered)
  • 5 TBS canola oil
  • 15 dried arbol chilies
  • 4 heaped tsp coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 green cardamon pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 cups onion, diced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled and diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 ¼ lb boneless chicken, cut into 2 inch chunks
  • salt
  • water


1.  To a large skillet heated over medium heat, add 1 TBS oil to coat the pan and the chilies.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring often.  Add the coriander, mustard, cardamon, and cinnamon and cook for just under a minute.  Add the cumin, peppercorns, cloves and turmeric, cooking 1 more minute stirring constantly.

2.  Put the spices, coconut milk, almond flour, 1 cup of the onions, and cloves into a blender.  Blend until it becomes a smooth paste, about 5 minutes.  Add water if the mixture becomes too thick to blend.

3.  To the skillet heated over medium low, add 3 TBS oil and the remaining onion.  Sauté slowly until just turning golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Add the spice paste and one cup of water to the skillet.  Stir to mix thoroughly.  Add the chicken and cook over low heat, covered, 15 minutes.  Remove the lid, add ½ cup water and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce reduces to the desired consistency.


  • It is imperative to have the spices measured out and ready to use before step 1.
  • The original recipe used fresh coconut and required creating your own first and second extracts of milk.  I found by trial and error that using canned coconut milk with ground almonds produced a very similar consistency.
  • Buying all of these spices in the spice rack of pretty bottled spices at your local store would put you back a pretty penny.  Look for the spices in small bags in the Mexican or Indian sections of the store.
  • For those who like to double some of their spices, do not double the cardamon pods as they are quite strong in flavor and will easily take over the dish.
  • For the work potluck, I complete the steps through the sauteed onion, then put everything in a crockpot that I brought to work and plugged in to cook the chicken.