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Keralan chicken coconut ishtu

Keralan chicken coconut ishtu

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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
    • Cook:
  • 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. You can also make this keto-friendly by serving with cauliflower rice.

  • Freezable
  • Low carb
Nutrition: per serving


  • 5 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 5cm/2in cinnamon stick
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns , lightly crushed
  • 1 star anise
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 1 medium onion , finely sliced
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger , peeled and finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves , finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 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
  • 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


  • STEP 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.

  • STEP 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.

  • STEP 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.


This full-flavoured, creamy curry originated with the Christians of Kerala. It is known as 'ishtu', or stew, as this is a fusion of East and West.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, October 2015

Goes well with


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A star rating of 5 out of 5.18 ratings

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