Keralan chicken coconut ishtu

Keralan chicken coconut ishtu

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(12 ratings)

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 1 hr, 20 mins

More effort

Serves 4
Anjum Anand adds green beans and spinach to this creamy chicken curry to make a flavourful one-pot meal - serve alongside rice, paratha, naan or rice noodles for a special supper

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal538
  • fat39g
  • saturates30g
  • carbs9g
  • sugars4g
  • fibre2g
  • protein35g
  • salt0.4g


  • 5 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 5cm/2in cinnamon stick
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves



    A clove is the dry, unopened flower bud of the tropical myrtle tree family used to flavour a…

  • 10 black peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • 1 star anise
    Star anise

    Star anise

    star an-eese

    Star anise is one of the central spices in Chinese cooking. It has a strong anise flavour, with…

  • 15 curry leaves
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped



    Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
    Fennel seeds

    Fennel seeds

    feh-nell seeds

    A dried seed that comes from the fennel herb, fennel seeds look like cumin seeds, only greener,…

  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 600g chicken thighs, skinned
  • handful green beans, ends trimmed, halved if very long
  • 400ml can coconut milk
    Coconut milk in a glass, with half a coconut

    Coconut milk

    ko-ko-nut mill-k

    Coconut milk is not the slightly opaque liquid that flows from a freshly opened coconut –…

  • 2 tbsp coconut cream
  • 1 tsp vinegar (or to taste)
  • large handful baby spinach, blanched and water squeezed out
  • small handful fresh coriander, to garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a wide pan (a karahi or wok is ideal), then add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, peppercorns and star anise. Once the seeds have stopped popping, add the curry leaves and the onion and cook over a medium heat until translucent. Add the ginger, garlic and green chillies, and sauté gently for 1-2 mins or until the garlic is cooked.

  2. Grind the fennel seeds to a fine powder in a spice grinder or with a pestle and mortar, then add to the pan with the turmeric, ground coriander and a pinch of salt. Add a splash of water and cook for 2 mins. Put the chicken in the pan and cook in the spice paste for 2 mins. Add water to come a third of the way up the chicken, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook, covered, for 1 hr, stirring occasionally.

  3. Once the liquid has reduced, add the green beans and coconut milk (including the thin milk that collects at the bottom of the can), cover and cook for another 10 mins. Uncover and cook off most of the excess liquid, stirring occasionally. Check the chicken is cooked all the way through. Stir in the coconut cream, vinegar and spinach, and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve topped with the coriander.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Kim Bambrough
11th Jun, 2016
Tried this recipe last night. It was soooo tasty, will definately make it again. My fussy husband really enjoyed it. Easy to make too! I ensured the liquid was well reduced to make it more flavoursome and not too runny.
dorothyr's picture
20th Apr, 2016
Just loved this recipe. Worth cooking in bulk to freeze. I added left over oven baked vegetables. Delicious
Tahura Begum's picture
Tahura Begum
21st May, 2020
Can I use white wine vinegar
lulu_grimes's picture
24th May, 2020
Hello, Yes you can. Lulu
canterburybelle's picture
24th Jun, 2017
Is it okay to use dried curry leaves in this recipe or do they have to be fresh?
goodfoodteam's picture
28th Jun, 2017
Thanks for your question. Fresh are ideal as the flavour is better and you can eat them, but you can used dried if you're struggling to get hold of the fresh ones.
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