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  • Rohan Kamicheril

Roast Chicken with Coconut Milk, Ginger, and Curry Leaf

roast chicken with coconut milk

This is a great, easy-to-make dish that feels familiar and comforting but gets a little kick in the pants from the addition of sweet coconut milk and warm spices. You can use any good quality oil for the garnish but I really recommend a cold-pressed coconut oil. It adds a fragrant richness to the dish that really distinguishes it from your run-of-the-mill roast chicken. Finally, don’t be concerned by the amount of salt in the marinade: not all of it will be absorbed by the chicken.


Serves 4


4 boneless, skin-on chicken breasts (approximately 2 lb)

1/2 cup coconut milk

5 tsp salt

2-inch piece ginger, peeled

4 large garlic cloves, peeled

2 sprigs curry leaves, stripped from stem

3 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Canola oil


2 tsp coconut oil

2 sprigs curry leaves, stripped from stem


Prepare the marinade for the chicken a day before you plan on serving it.

Combine the coconut milk, ginger, salt, garlic, curry leaves, and black pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend till smooth.

Place the chicken in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Rub it in thoroughly. Cover the bowl with cling film and let marinate overnight in the fridge.

An hour before you plan on cooking the chicken, remove it from the fridge.

Pat the chicken dry with wadded paper towels, removing all excess marinade from its surface. Place on a platter at room temperature for an hour to come up to temperature and give the skin a chance to dry out. If you have time, this step can be done up to a day ahead of time

Preheat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the center.

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat 2 tbsp of canola oil over high heat in a heavy sauté pan or cast-iron skillet large enough to fit all the chicken breasts side by side.

When the oil begins to shimmer, add the chicken to the pan, skin-side-down.

Let the chicken cook, undisturbed for 4–5 minutes. It’s important that you let the chicken cook long enough to form a crust. After 4 minutes, gently nudge one of the breasts onto its side to see if its underside is caramelized. If the skin has turned a golden, crusty brown, turn the chicken over. Once all the pieces are browned and turned over, move the pan to the oven to finish cooking.

Cook undisturbed for 25 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 160°F–165°.

Place the chicken on a wire rack over a sheet pan, loosely tented with aluminum foil.

When ready to serve, carve the chicken on the bias into ½-inch slices.

Fan the pieces of chicken out in a shallow bowl or on a platter.

To finish, heat the coconut oil in a skillet till it begins to shimmer. Be very careful not to let it start smoking. Add the curry leaves all at once and stand back—the oil will sputter furiously. Stir once to quickly blister all the leaves in the hot oil. Using a large spoon, ladle the hot oil over the chicken, and scatter with the brittle, aromatic curry leaves.

Sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately.

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