Marinate the chicken in a bowl with the turmeric powder, sea salt and garam masala spices. Make sure spices are gently massaged into the chicken pieces. Cover and set aside to prepare the rest.
Make Curry Base
Add the oil to a hot pan/skillet and add the diced onions and chilli. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until soft. To the same pan, add the garlic, ginger and stir through until aromatic – about 1 minute
Add the chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala Chinese five spice powder and chopped tomatoes. Mix together, moving round the pan for a minute or two, until the tomatoes start to soften, the spices become fragrant, and it resembles a thick brown curry paste. Remove curry paste from pan, into a bowl and set aside.
Add Chicken to the same pan and cook, gently moving round the pan until cooked through so it can soak up the residual flavours of the curry paste.
Bring it all Together
Add the curry paste back int the pan with the chicken and stir through to coat.
Add Coconut cream and stir through. Heat through and bring to a simmer but don’t let it boil or bubble. Turn heat down to low once curry is hot. Let it cook on low heat to absorb the flavours for another 5 minutes whilst you prepare the curry leaves to garnish.
Heat a small pan on high heat with ½ tablespoon of oil (any will do). Remove curry leaves from the stems and add to pan once heated. Stir them around in the pan – they will sizzle and crackle a bit and will only take a minute or two to cook. Once they’ve become crisp and turned a darker shade of green, remove from pan.
Divide the curry equally between 4 bowls with rice, and sprinkle the crunchy curry leaves on top, along with chopped coriander/cilantro.
Chicken: Chicken thigh is ideal in curries as it stays moist and juicy, and is even better the next day. Cut the chicken thigh in ½ inch pieces (1 ½ cm pieces) so they are roughly all the same size so the cook evenly. Alternatively, you could also use diced chicken breast. The cooking time for chicken breast would be reduced, and would depend on the size of the pieces.
Tomatoes: Canned tomatoes work great in this recipe, however you could also use two large ripe tomatoes finely chopped.
Curry Leaves: I buy curry leaves from both Woolworths and Coles in Australia – from the fruit and veg section with the fresh herbs. I Always buy two packs, because I love frying lots of curry leaves off and using them as a garnish at the end.
Green Chillies: Make sure to buy the long green chillies as they are a milder chilli once the seeds are removed. The smaller green chillies are VERY hot and not suitable for this curry.
Spices: All the spices in this recipe are from Woolworths/Coles. No special trip to the Indian Grocer needed.
Garlic and Ginger: Whilst you can’t beat the taste of fresh crushed garlic or fresh grated ginger, if you don’t have access to this, using the garlic and ginger that comes in a jar is a great alternative.
Coconut Cream: Coconut milk can be substituted for the coconut cream, and will result in a slightly thinner sauce. However you can use a slurry of 2 tablespoons cornflour/cornstarch and 2 tablespoons tap water mixed together in a small bowl, and added to the curry. Stir through on high heat to quickly thicken the sauce.
Level of Spiciness: I would call this Chicken Kerala Curry a medium curry. If you prefer something milder, you can omit the green chillies altogether, or use 1 instead of 2 (remember to remove the seeds). If you’re not sure, omit the chillies, and add them as a garnish at the end.
Nutritional information includes 2 cups of Basmati rice, divided between 4 servings.