Coconut Chicken Curry

Curry powder is stirred into this braise only during the last minute of cooking, delivering a bright hit of spice on top of the paprika and turmeric mellowed into the slow-simmered chicken.

This dish needs time on the stove but not much attention, and gets even better after resting in the fridge, making it an ideal weeknight meal that can last days. There’s plenty of coconut milk broth to spoon over rice or noodles; or even platha, a buttery, flaky Burmese flatbread, for dipping.

Based on reader reviews claiming the curry was too soupy, we omitted adding any water. Other changes included altering the amounts of the spices including adding Thai red curry paste and fresh ginger to the mixture. These changes are noted in the list below.

In order to make the most of the ingredients, it is important to let the curry sit for 20 minutes at the end. This allows the chicken to soak in more flavors as the curry cools.

Coconut Chicken Curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 Tbsp. ground paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 2 yellow onions, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 13-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce, plus more as needed
  • 1 ½ tsp. Madras curry powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground cayenne
  • 2 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste
  •  Cooked rice or noodles, for serving
  • 1 cup cilantro sprigs, for serving
  • 1 lime or lemon, cut into wedges, for serving


  1. Trim the chicken thighs of excess fat and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces; transfer to a bowl. Add the paprika, turmeric and salt, and use your hands to mix well. Let the chicken marinate at room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients, or cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high. Stir in the onions, lower the heat to medium-low and cook gently, stirring often to prevent scorching, until tender and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook, stirring often, until most of the water from the onions has been cooked out and a glossy layer of oil has risen to the surface, about 5 minutes more.
  3. Add the marinated chicken and stir to release the spices into the onion. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a near boil. Let the coconut milk simmer briskly for about 4 minutes to thicken a bit. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the fish sauce. The broth will thin out as the chicken starts to release its juices.
  4. Lower to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Droplets of paprika-red oil will rise to the surface. Stir in the curry powder, cayenne and Thai red curry paste and simmer briefly and remove from the heat.
  5. Let the curry sit for at least 20 minutes before serving. This allows the chicken to soak in more flavors as the curry cools. Bring to a simmer again right before serving and taste, adding more salt or fish sauce if desired.
  6. Serve over rice or noodles, with bowls of cilantro and lime wedges.

Adapted from recipe by Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy for NYT Cooking

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