Mariam Venattu's Keralan Chicken Curry

This chicken curry is Kerala’s version of comfort food. With a rich gravy, it was served to us with chunks of boiled cassava. We soon learned that mashing the cassava into the tantalizing sauce helped capture all the flavours created from the meat being slowly simmered in the spices.

This is the kind of local food that translates as delicious in any language and will be enjoyed by cooks anywhere in the world.

Mariam Venattu’s Keralan Chicken Curry with Cassava Recipe

4 -6 servings


2 kg fresh or frozen cassava root
1½ teaspoons salt – divided plus more to taste
1 Tablespoon Kashmiri chilli powder
¾ teaspoon turmeric – divided
1 Tablespoon plus ½ cup chicken masala* – divided
2 kg chicken pieces, skin removed
1¾ cups coconut oil – divided
1 Tablespoon black mustard seeds
4 cups red onions, sliced lengthwise
1½ Tablespoons garlic paste
1½ Tablespoons ginger paste
20 fresh curry leaves
1 cup water
1 (14 ounce/398 mL) can coconut cream


  1. Peel and cut the cassava root into 2-inch by 3-inch wedges, then place in a large pot with enough water to cover and boil for 20 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Add ½ teaspoon of salt half way through. Drain and set aside when done.
  2. Combine the chilli powder, ¼ teaspoon of the turmeric, chicken masala and 1 teaspoon in a bowl and then rub the mix into the chicken pieces and leave them to marinate in this dry rub for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat ¾ cups of the coconut oil in a large wok on medium heat and add the mustard seeds and cook until the pop and splutter (30 to 60 seconds).
  4. Add the onions and cook until they soften and become translucent then add the garlic paste for 30 seconds followed by the ginger paste and curry leaves and continue cooking until the onions are browned and crispy.
  5. Heat the remaining coconut oil in another large wok on medium heat and add the chicken pieces and cook until heated through then add the crispy brown onions.
  6. Place the ½ cup of chicken masala and ½ teaspoon of turmeric in a small fry pan and dry roast them on medium heat until they are fragrant and then add them to the chicken and bring to a brisk simmer.
  7. Add the water and coconut cream and simmer 15 minutes more.
  8. Taste and adjust salt seasoning to taste.
  9. Enjoy with the boiled cassava (as we did ) or Onam Avial, rice or fried potatoes.

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