Kerala Chicken Curry


I learned to cook food from Kerala, South India, from my in-laws. This is a fantastic main dish for a South Indian meal, which should always be served with several dishes - see the footnote for suggestions.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
55 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root

  • 8 fresh curry leaves (Optional)

  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 2 teaspoons red chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 ½ pounds chicken breasts, cut into large chunks

  • water to cover

  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Drop in mustard seeds and cumin seeds, cover skillet, and wait until the mustard seeds have all popped. Add onion, ginger, and curry leaves. Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, coriander, red chili powder, turmeric, and cinnamon stick; stir well.

  2. Add chicken and enough water to barely cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over medium or medium-low heat for about 45 minutes, checking every 10 minutes to make sure there is enough moisture in the skillet to keep the chicken from burning. Add more water if necessary. When the chicken is tender, season with salt and serve.

Cook's Notes:

You can use any part of the chicken. If you've bought chicken with bones, let the bones cook with the dish - this adds flavor.

Eat this chicken curry with rice (parboiled rice goes nicely, as does Basmati), or a flat bread. Very nice with this curry are curried green beans with coconut and moru curry (yogurt curry). Note: the red chili powder called for here is NOT the same as the chili powder Americans use to flavor chili and tacos. This red chili powder is available from Indian grocery stores and is MUCH HOTTER. This seasoning is typical of how spicy most Indians would like this dish, so if you are unsure you can handle it, start with only 1 tsp. chili powder your first time making this, and then work your way up.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

248 Calories
12g Fat
8g Carbs
26g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 248
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 68mg 23%
Sodium 569mg 25%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 26g
Vitamin C 8mg 39%
Calcium 91mg 7%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 356mg 8%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.