Kerala-Style Chicken (Nadan Khozi Curry) Recipe

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Prasanna Sankhe

The southern Indian state of Kerala is famed for its spices. Pepper, cinnamon, cardamon, and many more of the nation's staple spices grow in abundance there. And, as you might expect given this rich bounty, the region's cuisine is laced with different combinations of these spices, each giving unique flavor profiles to the dishes they season.

Nadan Khozi is a typical curry in Keralan houses, where the blend of spices differs just a little from home to home. The ingredient list might look long, but don't let it daunt you—once you understand that all Indian food is basically an amalgamation of spices, no recipe is really all that difficult. Though the specific spices and their proportions change, the underlying techniques are almost always the same.

This particular dish is especially comforting on nippy evenings (not that we have too many of those here). You can choose to turn down the heat by reducing the amount of red chile powder or whole chile by half. The roasting of the spices gives the dish a nutty, smoky flavor that adds to the dish's satisfying warmth, rounded out coconut milk. All in all, it's a particularly fitting tribute to the land of spices.

Recipe Facts



Active: 45 mins
Total: 45 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 4 chicken legs, split into drumsticks and thighs

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1 dry bay leaf

  • 1-inch piece cinnamon

  • 6 peppercorns

  • 2 white cardamom pods

  • 2 whole red chiles or 1 tablespoon red chile powder

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds

  • 10 curry leaves

  • 1 medium onion chopped fine (about 1 cup)

  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • Kosher salt


  1. Rub the chicken pieces in turmeric powder and seat aside. Heat the cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot. Add coriander seeds, fennel seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon, peppercorns, cardamon, and red chiles. (if you're using the red chile powder, do not add it now). Cook, stirring constantly, until the spices are fragrant, a few minutes. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool. Transfer to a spice blender (along with chile powder if using) and blend until powdered.

  2. Heat oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Stand away and add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add onion, ginger, and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the ground spices and stir vigorously. Add the chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes total. Add the coconut milk and salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Serve hot with roti or white rice.

Special Equipment

Cast iron skillet, blender/coffee grinder, heavy bottomed non-stick skillet

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
315 Calories
24g Fat
10g Carbs
18g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 315
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 30%
Saturated Fat 17g 83%
Cholesterol 82mg 27%
Sodium 625mg 27%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 18g
Vitamin C 20mg 99%
Calcium 58mg 4%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 477mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)