Fragrant Coconut Chicken with Mustard Seeds

Serves 4

The beauty of this recipe is that it makes a lot of sauce. We reckon it will do six people generously and although the recipe is for four, you could increase or reduce the amount of chicken to suit. Allow two chicken thighs per person but always make the full quantity of sauce. Once the chicken has been scooped out and eaten you can freeze for use on another occasion.

Just defrost and then warm through with more chicken or something different, such as prawns or fish.

This recipe uses fresh curry leaves but if you do have difficulty in obtaining them, then use dried, although fresh is best.


  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 8 chicken thighs (bone-in)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • handful fresh curry leaves
  • 3 onions, finely sliced
  • 2 green chillies (long thin type), deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 400g tin tomatoes, chopped
  • 400g tin coconut milk

To download a printable recipe card, just click on the icon.


First grind the cumin and coriander seeds using a pestle and mortar.

They don’t have to be a fine powder – it is preferable for them to have a coarser texture.

Place a flame proof shallow casserole dish or large frying pan on the hob on a medium heat. Put in the oil to warm slightly and then place in the chicken thighs and fry to brown on all sides. You may need to do this in a couple of batches. Remove and set aside.

Add the mustard seeds to the hot oil and fry them gently until they begin to pop. Turn the heat right down for a moment and add the ground cumin and coriander, stirring all the while until the aroma is released. Stir in the curry leaves allowing them to sizzle a little.

Put in the onions with the spices and fry gently until very soft. Make sure you stir them occasionally and don’t allow them to burn. Add the chillies, garlic and ginger and fry for a minute then add the turmeric and fry for a further minute.

Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the coconut milk and stir to combine. Place in the chicken thighs, making sure they are covered by the sauce.

Partially cover the pan with a lid and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or more until the chicken is cooked through.

Season with salt to taste and serve with steamed basmati rice.

TIP: We deseeded our chillies for a milder flavour but if you like it hot, leave the seeds in or use more chillies – it’s up to you.

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