• 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


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