Mangalorean Chicken Curry


  • 1/4 cup (60ml) ghee or sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1kg chicken joints (bone in), cut into medium-sized pieces
  • 16-18 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 dried chillies
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbs tamarind paste
  • Pinch of chilli powder (optional) and Indian hoppers (from Indian food shops), to serve


  • 2 tbs coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 2.5cm cinnamon stick
  • 2-4 dried chillies
  • 140g fresh or frozen coconut, coarsely grated
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger


  • For the spice blend, dry-roast spices and dried chillies in a frypan over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until aromatic and slightly darkened. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the roasted spice mixture to a fine powder.
  • Add coconut to the pan and dry-roast over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 5-6 minutes or until golden. Transfer roasted coconut to a food processor and whiz until finely chopped. Add ground spice mixture, garlic, ginger and 2 tbs water, and whiz to a smooth paste.
  • To make the curry, heat 2 tbs ghee or oil in a saucepan with a lid over medium-high heat. Add half the onion and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until softened. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until chicken is browned all over, then add the spice blend and 1/2 cup (125ml) water. Bring to the boil, cover, and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally and ensuring the curry sauce does not dry out (add 2 tbs water if necessary).
  • Heat remaining 1 tbs ghee or oil in a frypan over medium-high heat. Add curry leaves and dried chillies, and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant, then add remaining onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until well browned.
  • Meanwhile, add coconut milk and tamarind to curry sauce and stir through. Bring to the boil, then stir through most of the curry leaf mixture. Divide curry among bowls and top with remaining curry leaf mixture. Sprinkle with chilli powder, if using, and serve with hoppers.