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Goan Chicken Curry with a Thick and Tasty Sauce

Goan Chicken curry is amazing

Goan chicken curry with a thick tasty sauce

Goan chicken curry made easy

One thing that I like about food blogging is getting to know a country’s history and people through what they eat. Goan chicken curry has become a real favourite of mine. It is so different to the food found in other parts of India because Goa was heavily influenced by the Portuguese during their long rule in the area.

The portuguese are very fond of meats cooked in vinegar. When they first arrived in Goa, vinegar was not available but they soon found a substitute in the paste that is made out of tamarind. This Goan chicken curry makes use of this much loved ingredient used in many Indian food recipes.

Over time the Portuguese started distilling their own vinegars and using other acidic ingredients such a citrus fruits. That is the reason for the sizeable amount of lemon juice used in this Goan chicken curry recipe.

Unlike Portuguese food which is often thickened with flour, this recipe calls for fresh coconut which is roasted and ground with other spices into a paste which is quite common in southern India.

My children really love small chicken pieces – in India referred to as chicken Tikka. This recipes will go down equally well with whole chickens cut into about six pieces. You really cannot go wrong with this dish if you use fresh ingredients. Even the chicken can sit in the curry for a couple of hours if you are not ready to serve it when the meat is cooked through.

Simply take the curry off the heat and warm up when you are ready to serve it.

INGREDIENTS for Goan chicken curry

125ml vegetable oil or ghee – plus a little more
1 large red onion finely sliced
7 cloves garlic pounded into a paste with a little water
2 inch piece ginger pounded into a paste with a little water
6 skinless and boneless chicken breasts cut into one inch pieces
125ml lemon juice
1 Tablespoon tamarind paste
1 bunch fresh coriander leaves

for the spice blend

5 Tablespoons red chilli flakes
2 Tablespoon coriander seeds
2 Tablespoons fenugreek seeds
10 black peppercorns
1 cup grated fresh coconut
1 Tablespoon black cardamom seeds
1 Tablespoon cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Dry fry the spice blend ingredients except for the coconut over medium heat. When the spices begin to smoke, pour into a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and grind into a powder.

Now do the same with the coconut until it toasts to a light brown.

Mix all of the spice ingredients with a little water and grind into a smooth paste and set aside.

In a large heavy-based pan, heat the ghee over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and stir-fry until the onions are translucent and brown – about 7 minutes.

Add the spice paste, garlic paste and ginger paste and fry for about two minutes.

Next, throw the chicken pieces to the pan and brown the meat with the other ingredients. Pour in about 400ml water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and cook covered for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Stir in the lemon juice and tamarind paste and serve sprinkled with salt to taste.

I hope you enjoy this delightful curry as much as my family and I do. Kids seem to love this Goan curry so be sure to make enough for hungry guests of all ages!

10 Responses to “Goan Chicken Curry with a Thick and Tasty Sauce”

  1. Mike says:


    Tried this today and went wrong somewhere, the sauce was very very dark not a problem in it self but it was also very sour, where do you think I went wrong.

    I did forget to fry off the ginger and garlic and added it with the water!

    Best Regards


    • Dan Toombs says:

      Hi Mike

      There are only two souring agents in the dish. You may not like tamarind. I recommend trying a small teaspoon on its own to see if that is the problem. If you don’t like the taste of tamarind, leave it out or use a good quality wine vinegar. Hope that help.

      Adding the garlic and ginger at the end would not cause the problem.

  2. ila says:


    The recipe uses all of the spice paste or part of it? It seems rather a lot — 5 tablespoons chilli flakes!

    • Dan Toombs says:

      Hi Ila

      This is a very old recipe that a friend emailed to me. It is very spicy and not to everyone’s taste. If you think that it might be too hot, reduce the amount of chillies. You really don’t need to add them at all as there are so many other nice flavours working here.

      Thanks, Dan

  3. Nishal says:

    Hi Mike,

    adding a few points on your query about the sauce was dark, the only reason it could be that you might have roasted the dry spices a little extra, i suggest the next time you roast the spices, keep it on low flame a and roast it till u get the spice roasted smell don’t let it burn, or over roast it.

    thank you.

  4. jason says:

    Hi Mike,

    Can desiccated coconut be used instead? Its difficult to source fresh here. Can you suggest quantities and or a substitute?


    • Dan Toombs says:

      You can. I recommend adding a little at a time. You usually only need half the amount of desiccated but that can vary. Good luck with it. :-)

  5. jason says:

    Can you suggest a substitute for fresh coconut?

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