Chicken Malabar

Preparation time: 10 minutes |Cooking time: 30 minutes |Serves: 2-3

Chicken Malabar

Small onions, coconut, and spices bring together the signature flavor of this spicy Malabar chicken curry.  It is a famous recipe from the north Malabar region of Kerala, India and chicken curry in Malabar refers to this chicken Malabar dish.

Kerala is a southwestern state in India and Kerala cuisine uses a combination of coastal essence of coconut, spices and a unique cooking method for preparing delicious smacking food. The flavorful chicken curry from Kerala is made by roasting authentic spices with roasted coconut. This recipe is a personal favorite of mine not only because of the fantastic flavors but also as it is one of my mom’s signature dish and passed on to my generation. We call it ‘Nadan chicken curry’ (traditional chicken curry) which can pair with ‘pathiri’ (local rice bread) or any types of rice like pulao or ghee rice. It can be paired with any Indian pieces of bread or Appam as well. This chicken curry is a must try for newbies to cooking and bachelors.

If you want to make a simple Kerala chicken curry, you will find at least 10 variations of it. It is one such recipe from north Malabar flavor with small onions or shallots, coriander, fennel with a light smoky flavor of roasted coconut. Instead of onions, in most Kerala dishes use shallots. It has excellent health benefits and great flavors.

Chicken Malabar curry is a quite easy recipe with no grinding or any complicated steps and ingredients involved. The time-consuming part of this recipe is sautéing shallots which can take some time and effort. However, this is the significant step of the recipe as shallots make the base of this chicken curry and the flavor depends a lot on this alone. If you don’t sauted onions, then the curry would end to be a sweet version, and it can be unpleasant too. The curry should be quite spicy and if you want to lower the heat, substitute red chili powder with Kashmiri chili powder or paprika to reduce the heat.

If you are using hot red chili powder, manage the quantity to lower or increase the heat. No matter how you use the ingredients, this Malabar chicken curry is all about flavors and can use as a side dish for many dishes.

If the chili powder you use is on the spicier side, use half amount of chili powder and paprika. Usually, paprika is not using in Kerala recipes, but to reduce the heat, you can use it too. Another alternative is to use red chili powder and Kashmiri chili powder to reduce the heat and to bring it a nice color to the chicken curry.

When adding water, start with adding a little amount of water as both chicken and coconut releases water. If you like thick gravy, add a little water in the beginning and cook till the water from the curry evaporates. As we have added coconut, the curry will become a little thick towards the end. Try roasting the coconut till its golden, but you have to stir continuously to prevent coconut from burning.

This good old recipe of chicken Malabar is one of my comfort dishes for dinner and my special item when friends and family come home for a meal. Though I have experimented with chicken curry like anything, I usually prefer sticking to the authentic traditional recipe. The attractive part of this curry is the luscious gravy which is both spicy and creamy. It is very similar to any other basic Indian curry, but the distinctive element is the use of freshly grated coconut. While frozen coconut can also use, the flavor of fresh coconut gives to the curry cannot be replaced. Fresh coconut is always better for maximum flavor. 

While making Malabar chicken curry, you might need some time to master it, especially when roasting coconut and shallots. The balanced blend of spices and the proper level of roasting comes with practice and have a great influence on the outcome of flavor. Try your hand at this traditional Malabar chicken curry and perfect the art of balancing the flavor and your culinary skills would be appreciated by all.


  • Chicken – 400 grams
  • Small onions, sliced – ½ cup
  • Ginger and garlic, chopped – 2 tablespoons
  • Dried red chili – 3
  • Coriander seeds, whole – ½ tablespoon
  • Fennel seeds – ¼ teaspoon
  • Coconut, grated – 1 cup
  • Onion, chopped – 2
  • Green chili – 2
  • Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
  • Chili powder – ½ teaspoon
  • Tomato, chopped – 1
  • Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
  • Oil – 2 tablespoons or as required
  • Hot water – 1 ½ cups


  1. In a pan, heat oil and add curry leaves and a small After a few minutes, add dry red chili, whole coriander, ginger and garlic and fennel seeds. Let it fry well.
  2. Now add grated coconut and mix well. Allow the coconut to become golden brown and let it cool.
  3. Add a little water to coconut mixture and grind it to a fine paste.
  4. Now add a little oil in the same pan and add onion and green chili. Once the onion becomes a golden color, add turmeric powder and salt and stir for a few seconds.
  5. Then add tomato and cook thoroughly. Tomatoes must become soft and then add 2 tablespoons of water and mix well.
  6. Now add chicken pieces to this mixture and combine well and let the chicken cook. Cover the pan in medium flame until the chicken cooked thoroughly.
  7. Now add the ground paste to the chicken and mix well and let it boil.
  8. Meanwhile, take a small pan and heat oil and add curry leaves and finely chopped small onions. Add a pinch of chili powder to this and fry well. Add this tempering to the chicken and stir properly.
  9. Serve it hot with plain rice or roti.

Nutritional information:

Calories: 712 |Fats: 54.58gm |Cholesterol: 61.98mg |Sodium: 1220.00mg |Protein: 25.34gm |Dietary fiber: 4.72gm.