Chicken Curry with Roasted Coconut

Sri Lankan kalu pol chicken pinit

Delicious slow-simmered chicken curry with added Roasted Coconut aka Sri Lankan Kalu-pol chicken curry is a must-try dish to add to your chicken recipes list. Its nutty, sweet, sour, and chicken pieces become fall-off the bone tender. And so aromatic with all the roasted coconut and the spices. 

Kalu Pol basically means blackened coconut. In Sri Lankan food culture, blackened coconut or roasted coconut takes a very special place. We have many curries that we make with this blackened/toasted coconut. And Kalu-pol chicken is one of the most famous ones.

Similar to many Sri Lankan dishes, every household has different ways to make this Kalu pol chicken. Over time I tried and developed a few recipes too. I love this particular toasted coconut chicken dish so much and I take so much pride in developing the recipe. It does not only taste good but is such an easy recipe to make too. You basically roast or brown your coconut, make a paste with some more spices and aromatics and then dump it into the chicken and cook. Yeah, it’s that simple. Since I don’t add any extra oil to make this curry it makes me feel good too. And the slow and low cooking makes the chicken pieces so tender. But for me, the best part of this dish is the coconut-based gravy. It is just so delicious!!

Some TIPS you’re going to need

  • Toasting your coconut until dark brown (not black/burn) is a crucial step in this recipe. Browning enhances the sweetness of the coconut, makes them more aromatic and adds a nice smokey flavor and aroma to the curry. You know it, browning is flavor!
  • When you roast coconut, make sure you stir coconut continuously. Otherwise, the bottom would get brown while the coconut on the surface remains still fresh and white.
  • Brown your coconut in low heat so it wouldn’t get burned immediately. As soon as they turn into the color you’re looking for, immediately transfer the roasted coconut into a different plate/pan. Or in this case, to your grinder (if it’s heatproof)
  • Roasted chili powder is smokier and tastes less-hot compared to unroasted chili powder. So you can use a lot in the recipe for flavor without making the curry too hot. If you already have store-bought roasted chili powder or smoked chili powder then you can directly use it. I don’t have it so I roast mine. Add a little bit of salt to your pan along with chili powder so it would produce less smoke. However, I highly advise you to turn on your exhaust fan and keep your kitchen highly ventilated. If you’re not familiar with roasting chili powder then do not wait until they become smokey, turn off the heat as soon as you smell the roasting chili powder and then the residual heat will roast it a bit further. 
  • Slow and low cooking is the key to getting this recipe right. That makes the chicken super tender, enhances the smokiness, and renders fat from the coconut and chicken pieces. It also makes the chicken pieces absorb all the flavors from the spices and at the same time, the gravy gets nice and thick and flavorful.
  • Use dark chicken meat which means only the leg parts. If you want to use white chicken meat, make sure to cut them with the bones. Otherwise, with slow and low cooking, all the chicken fibers can get separated, and that could make the chicken curry more like pulled or shredded chicken. If that makes any sense.
  • You’d notice that I don’t add onions to the ground curry paste. Sometimes onions turn bitter when they’re ground. So I left it out and add to the curry later as I cook it.

Can I make this chicken curry ahead of time?

Absolutely. This Roasted coconut chicken curry tastes better the next day. Since it’s a dry curry it can last about 3-4 days in the fridge without any issues. And it’s freezer-friendly. You can put the amount you need into a freezer bag and then freeze it for up to 3 months. Whenever you want to have the curry, thaw the curry overnight in the fridge and microwave in a covered container. 

You can also make the paste ahead of time. When you want to make the chicken curry all you have to do is to dump the paste into the chicken along with some onion, curry leaves, pandan leaves, and lemongrass. ( I didn’t have this ingredient unfortunately at the time of making the curry)

Serving ideas:

Goes very well with rice and coconut roti or any kind of bread. 

My favorite menu to have this Chicken curry with roasted coconut is Sri Lankan yellow rice, red lentil curry, Sri Lankan Batu Moju (sweet and sour fried eggplants), and stir-fried green beans. If you want to take this meal to the next step, wrap the rice and curries  (excludes any salads) altogether in a banana leaf and a foil and then bake it for about 20 mins on 350 F. 

More chicken recipes that you might like:

Sri Lankan chicken curry

Sri Lankan red chicken curry

Pan-fried spicy chicken drumsticks

Sri Lankan deviled chicken

Products I mentioned (Amazon affiliate links)

5 from 1 vote

Chicken Curry with Roasted Coconut

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 10 min Cook Time 1 hour Total Time 1 hr 10 mins Servings: 6

Description

Delicious slow-simmered chicken curry with added Roasted Coconut aka Sri Lankan Kalu-pol chicken curry is a must-try dish to add to your chicken recipes list. Its nutty, sweet, sour, and chicken pieces become fall-off the bone tender. And so aromatic with all the roasted coconut and the spices. 

Ingredients

For the curry paste

Other

Instructions

Make tamarind pulp:

  1. Add your tamarind to a small bowl and add about 3 tbsp of water. Let it soak for about five mins. It would be quicker if you use warm water. Dissolve the tamarind in water using your fingers. Discard any seeds. I use seedless tamarind from a block but can be substituted with fresh tamarind with seeds, tamarind paste, or pulp.

Roast coconut and spices:

  1. Roast your fresh coconut in medium-low heat until they become dark brown and aromatic. Keep stirring continuously to ensure even cooking. As soon as they turn dark brown transfer them into the grinder cup or a different pan. (Highly recommend reading the tips I have given above in the description)

  2. Now add black pepper, cardamom, and cloves to the same pan and roast for about 30-45 seconds so they’re easier to grind. Add them to the grinder cup.

  3. In the same pan, add chili powder and about ½ tsp of salt and slowly roast it until they become darker in color. (read the given tips in the description for more info). Add that to the grinder cup. If you already have roasted chili powder or smoked paprika in hand, you can use that instead.

Make the paste:

  1. Add all the ingredients I’ve mentioned under curry paste in the ingredients list above. Which are roasted coconut, roasted chili powder, roasted Sri Lankan curry powder, cinnamon powder (if you don’t have this, add a piece of cinnamon directly to the curry without grinding) garlic, ginger, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, tamarind pulp, sugar, vinegar, salt, and enough water for your grinder/blender to work. Grind it into a smooth paste.

  2. Taste the paste. It should already taste good. And has to be a little extra salty, sour, and should have some sweetness too. If not you can add a little bit more salt, vinegar, or sugar to match your taste. You are also going to adjust these flavors halfway through as you cook the curry.

Make the curry:

  1. To a clay pot or any pot with a heavy bottom (such as a cast-iron dutch oven or heavy stainless steel pan) add your chicken, the curry paste, Curry leaves, Pandan leaves, finely chopped onions, a 3-inch piece of lemongrass (I didn't have this ingredient at the time, unfortunately) and salt if needed.

  2. Add thinned coconut milk (dilute approximately 1 part thick/canned coconut milk: 3 part water ratio) to the pot and mix well together.

  3. Cover and cook for 20 on medium low heat. After 20 mins taste and adjust salt, vinegar, and sugar to your taste. If it’s too sour then add a little bit of sugar and if it’s too sweet for your liking add a touch of vinegar to balance it out.

  4. Now cook it uncovered on low heat for about another 30 - 40 mins or until the gravy has thickened. Do not mix with a spoon. Whenever you feel like the bottom is getting dry, then shake the pot a little bit. Cooking in low heat is the key to getting the gravy dark and thick and chicken to become very tender. It would get thicker as it cools down.

Keywords: chicken curry, Sri Lankan chicken curry, Chicken curry with roasted coconut, Kalu pol chicken curry, black chicken curry, easy chicken recipe, no oil chicken curry

4 Comments

  1. I’m new here and love your Insta Account and your Homepage! My dad is from sri Lanka and my Mum from germany. Sadly i live in the north of germany and my parents in the Southampton. As a teen they showed my curry but i forget that and as a Teen it was not interesting. Now when i’m feel homesick i need the food. So thank you for the Tips! And all the recipes! Greets from germany!

    1. Hi Tamara,
      I’m very happy you like both my page and website and thank you so much for sharing your story. I truly understand what you’re saying. Ever since I left the country, my mom’s food is all I craved.

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