This is a dish that originates from the southern region of India and hinges on an amazing array of spices. It is worth the work to toast the whole spices and grind them to increase the pop of the flavors. Adjust the spice accordingly. (For me, the heat of the chilis only enhances the dish).
3-4 lbs organic bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
10 organic baby new potatoes
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Rub (ideally use the whole spices, toast them and grind them. If you are unable to find them, use ground)
2 tablespoons whole fennel seeds (1 1/2 tablespoons ground)
10 green cardamom pods (1/2 tsp ground)
6 whole cloves (3/4 teaspoon ground))
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half (1 teaspoon ground)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
2 serrano chiles, stems removed and cut in half lengthwise
8 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 inch piece of ginger, minced or microplaned
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons paprika
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 fresh curry leaves OR zest of one lime OR 6 fresh bay leaves
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons whole mustard seeds
2-4 dried red chilies (I used Thai bird eye chilies)
Separate the chicken thigh from the bone and cut each piece in half. Leave whatever meat is left on the bone and transfer the bones and the thighs into a large dutch oven.
Prepare the rub by putting the fennel seeds, cardamom pods, whole cloves and cinnamon stick in a small skillet. Cook over medium heat while stirring about a minute or until just fragrant. Remove from the heat and let cool. Once cool, process in a spice grinder or coffee grinder until a course powder forms (this may take 30-40 seconds). Add the rub to the chicken and massage it over all of the pieces.
Prepare the marinade by adding the onion, Serrano chiles, garlic, ginger, coriander, paprika, turmeric and curry leaves or lime zest or bay leaves to the pot and combining well until the chicken is evenly coated. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes or 12 hours.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand at room temp for 30 minutes to an hour based on how long you kept it in the refrigerator.
Cut the potatoes in half and place them around pot and between chicken pieces. Pour in about 1/2 cup of water and place over low heat about 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. As it starts to cook, the chicken will release moisture and juices should start to rise. Once the chicken and potatoes are tender, add the coconut milk and vinegar. Bring to a simmer and cook until chicken easily pulls away from the bone, about 10-20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Fish out the bones and scrape off the meat if you wish before serving or simply leave them in the pot.
Prepare the finishing ingredients by heating the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot. Add shallots and cook, stirring often until slightly browned (4-5 minutes), Stir in mustard seeds and curry leaves or lime zest and dried red chilies. Stir constantly and cook until the mustard seeds start to pop. Take about 1/4 cup of the liquid from the pot of chicken and pour it into the skillet to get all of the bits out of the skillet and pour it all back into the chicken pot. Season with salt to taste.
Serve with brown rice or cauliflower rice.
Recipe inspired by Kerala Chicken Curry recipe in Southern Living April 2021