This recipe ended up coming about when I was on the look-out for a curry to try out in my Instant Pot. But due to a rookie mistake on my part with the Instant Pot, I couldn’t get it up to the temperature it needed to pressure cook. I abandoned the Instant Pot and instead turned over to the stove in an attempt to salvage the recipe.

There was a brief moment at the time right after my third try to get the Instant Pot up to temperature I thought about whether I should pull the plug on the entire thing. But I am sure glad I didn’t walk down that path, because the end result (and struggles along the way) were absolutely worth it.

Onions, garlic, ginger, and eight different spices all come together in this flavorful curry that will leave you going back in for that next bite.


Coconut Curry Chicken
Makes 4 – 6 servings

2 cups tomato puree
2 tbsp neutral flavor cooking oil (I used avocado oil)
2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
2 cups onions, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp ginger (grated if fresh. I used the bottled paste)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
2 tsp coriander
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp black pepper
2-1/2 lbs. chicken thighs, cut into 1″ chunks
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
Cooked basmati rice, for serving (optional)
3 tbsp scallions (for garnish)

Prep Work:

  • For your chicken thighs, get them cut up into 1″ x 1″ chunks, trimming off the excess fat as needed.
  • In addition to cutting up the onions, garlic, and scallions, I would recommend separating out the spices into the following groupings. This will help during the cooking process when you’re moving through the steps and don’t have the time to be measuring things out.
    1. Cumin
    2. Cinnamon and cardamom
    3. Coriander, salt, turmeric, red pepper flakes, black pepper
  • The ginger paste was really straightforward to use for me, but if you’re going the fresh route, I would recommend using either a Microplane or grater to get that very fine texture to blend into the curry.


  • In a 4 qt. skillet, heat up the oils on medium-high heat. Once they are at temperature, add in your onions and reduce the heat down to medium to allow them to caramelize, stirring every minute. This should take approximately 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Once the onions are cooked, while still on medium heat, add in your garlic, ginger, and cumin, stirring to combine and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the cinnamon and cardamom for another 1 minute before adding in the coriander, salt, turmeric, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and tomato puree. Combine everything together well.
  • Add in your chicken thigh pieces and stir everything together to make sure the chicken is evenly coated in the sauce mixture. Using medium heat, bring the entire mixture up to a simmer, stirring periodically to make sure the pieces on the bottom don’t burn. Once you’ve gotten everything up to temperature, put the skillet cover on and reduce the heat down to low for 30 minutes.
  • After that time has passed, add in your coconut milk to the mixture, stirring to combine well. Continue cooking on low heat for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Turn the heat off and set the skillet off to the side. Take the lid off, stir it one more time, and let it sit an additional 5 minutes to let all the flavors continue to meld together.


  • Scoop the curry into a bowl, either over rice or by itself, and garnish with some fresh chopped scallions. Having some naan bread on the side would also make for a great complement to the dish as well.
  • I happened to have some extra corn tortillas in the pantry to use, so I ran a side experiment with some coconut curry chicken tacos, shown below:

On the very first bite, the thing that hit me the most was how layered all the flavors were from the blend of spices coming together in the final product. Sure, I did have to expand my spice collection by a bottle or four to pick up the ones I don’t normally use. But this tasted so much better than using any curry powder blend.

Another thing I found was that the curry is not very coconut flavor forward, with that being more of an after-taste. If you’re interested in having that flavor profile more prominent, I would suggest increasing the coconut milk by 1/4 cup or more.

There’s certainly quite a bit of prep involved, and the wait as you’re getting the smell of all those spices coming together might be difficult, but it’s well worth it in the end. If you’re cooking this for a group, there’s a chance you’ll be hard-pressed to find any leftovers when it’s all said and done.

Categories: Recipes

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