Keralan Chicken & Chickpea Curry


After my travels to Kerala last year, I became obsessed with this traditional coconut-based curry that the caretaker’s wife made each day when staying in the Airbnb cottage in Varkala. Using both coconut and tomato means it’s not all cream but instead, has a great balance of acid to help bring out all the flavour of the spices. You can omit the meat for a vegetarian option, or add in fish or seafood for a proper Kerala beach meal. 


  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

  • 2tsp mustard seeds

  • 1tsp cumin seeds

  • 1 bunch fresh curry leaves, leave only

  • 1 large brown onion, peeled and sliced

  • Fresh ginger, the size of two thumbs, peeled and julienned

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

  • 2-3 green chillies, halved

  • 1tsp ground coriander

  • 1tsp ground cumin

  • 1tsp ground turmeric

  • 2 large tomatoes, diced

  • 2 whole chicken legs, bone in, cut into chunks

  • 1 tin chickpeas

  • 1 tin coconut milk

  • Green beans, trimmed and cut into 2cm lengths

  • 1-2tsp Maldon salt flakes

  • Fresh coriander, roughly chopped


  • Heat oil in a hot, heavy-based pan

  • Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves to infuse into the oil, stir gently

  • Once seeds start popping, add the onion and lower heat to gently turn golden. Keep them moving to get an even colour

  • Once the onion is golden and very, very soft, add the ginger, garlic and chillies and mix together

  • After 2mins, add in the coriander, cumin, and turmeric and thoroughly mix into the onion mix. If the mix starts to stick to the pan, pour in around 1tbsp of water to help it

  • After around 2-3mins when the mix is really fragrant, add in the tomatoes and stir in to soften

  • Only when the tomatoes and onion mix have formed a soft base together, add the chicken chunks and 1tsp salt and coat thoroughly

  • Pour in the chickpeas, green beans and then the coconut milk and stir all together. The curry should now turn into a delightful, gentle yellow colour. Put a lid on the pan and keep it simmering for 10mins

  • After 10mins, add the last bit of salt, turn off the heat and let the chicken finish cooking with the lid still on for another 10mins

  • When you’re ready to eat, sprinkle the coriander and mix, serving it all with chapati and rice