June 16


Monika’s Molecular Meals: Coriander & Coconut Paleo Chicken Curry

By Monika Knapp

June 16, 2021

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This Paleo Chicken Curry Recipe Is Simple, Delicious & Healthy!

Monika's Molecular Meals: Coriander & Coconut Paleo Chicken Curry

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Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this curry.

So if you’re about to scroll on past because you think you could never pull off a real, delicious curry… stop. Don’t worry!

It’s designed to be easy, delicious, and approachable even if you’ve never made a proper curry before in your life.

There’s no grinding of whole spices…

You don’t have to make a bunch of extra sauces and chutneys…

And best of all, you can make the whole thing in a single pot!

I love this chicken curry dish SO much, not only because it’s paleo, but because it’s based on a favorite of none other than the queen of curry herself:

Madhur Jaffrey.

Since being gifted Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible last year for Christmas, my repertoire of curry recipes has probably more than quadrupled.

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And that’s because this book explores not just classic Indian curries you’ve got your tikka masala, saag paneer, baingan bharta, etc. but it explores curries from other countries around the world, too!

This curry recipe, in particular, comes from Kenya. It absolutely tastes like a curry rich, pungent, and full of kick-you-in-the-face flavors but without the fuss that comes with so many other traditional curry recipes.

So even if you’ve never made curry before… or it’s seemed too intimidating… or you’re a total kitchen novice…

I’m confident you’ll be able to pull off this chicken curry… and you’ll LOVE it!

Madhur Jaffrey calls this dish one of the “best chicken dishes I have ever eaten.”

And while we are making two very small substitutions for this recipe (coconut milk or yogurt in place of full-fat dairy yogurt, and coconut oil in place of corn oil)… personally, I couldn’t agree more. 🙂

So to get started on your new favorite curry (that you’ll now be making for yourself instead of just ordering takeout)…

Let’s get started:

Monika's Molecular Meals: Coriander & Coconut Paleo Chicken Curry

FTH’s Paleo Coriander & Coconut Chicken Curry

Equipment Needed: Blender or food processor; large, nonreactive bowl; large nonstick saucepan or Dutch oven; spatula

Recipe Time: 75 minutes, not including extra marinating time

Serves: 4


  • One 3-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (see Recipe Notes)
  • 5 medium-large cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed, and roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 whole chicken legs, skinned and separated into thighs and drumsticks 
  • 1 medium best-quality tomato, chopped
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro, leaves and tender stems chopped
  • 2-3 fresh serranos, jalapenos, or other hot chili, seeded and chopped (see Recipe Notes for less spicy alternatives!)
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 8 oz full-fat paleo-friendly coconut milk, paleo-friendly coconut yogurt, or a combination of the two
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1) Marinate the chicken.

To your blender or food processor, add the ginger, garlic, lemon juice, a large pinch of salt, and about 2 Tbsp of water.

Pulse a few times, using a spatula to scrape down the sides as needed.

When the marinade is smooth, place the chicken pieces in a large, nonreactive bowl, along with the marinade. (Any stainless steel or non-metallic bowl will do.)

Massage the marinade into the chicken, cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

While your chicken marinates:

Don’t clean out your blender or food processor just yet!

Toss in the tomato, cilantro, peppers, tomato puree, 3/4 tsp salt, and 2 Tbsp water. Blend until a smooth sauce forms.

2) Drain the chicken (reserve the marinade!) and brown.

When your chicken is ready, heat the oil in a large, nonstick pot or saucepan. 

When the oil is shimmering, carefully spoon the chicken pieces out of the marinade and into the oil. 

WARNING: Things may splatter. Do this very defensively and gently, and make sure to shake off as much marinade from the chicken as you can before adding it to the oil.

(Yes, you could pat the chicken dry, but then we’re wasting paper and marinade neither of which is great for this recipe. But if you must, go for it.) 

Fry the chicken, flipping occasionally, until light brown on all sides.

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3) Get the sauce going.

When the chicken is looking good, add the rest of the marinade and the tomato sauce to the pan.

Continue to cook until the sauce reduces a bit and begins to cling to the chicken.

4) Add the yogurt and let everything simmer for a bit. That’s it!

When the oil is noticeably separating from the sauce and it’s thick enough for you, add in your coconut milk or yogurt.

Stir and cook over medium-low heat until the yogurt thickens the sauce even more, and there’s just a little bit of oil separation.

Cover the pan, turn the heat down as low as it will go, and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until the chicken is completely done and tender. If you fear the sauce will burn, add a tablespoon or two of water.

Taste and adjust for salt, and that’s it!

Traditionally, this dish is served with flatbreads and rice, but check out the Recipe Notes and section below for some fun, paleo-friendly ideas that will be sure to impress your next dinner guests. 🙂

Recipe Notes

  • Pro Tip: Peel ginger with a spoon to get more yield! Simply scrape the spoon across the skin, and it should peel right off.
  • If serranos or jalapenos are too spicy for you, anaheim or poblano peppers would make a decent substitute. Avoid green bell peppers though, as they tend to be watery and may dominate the final flavor profile more than you’d prefer.
  • This recipe will not work without full-fat coconut milk. I repeat, DO NOT use low-fat coconut milk for this recipe! And whether you should go with coconut milk or paleo-friendly coconut yogurt is really up to you and how you want the sauce to appear. If you like a thicker sauce, try using yogurt (you can always add coconut milk to thin it out later). If you like a less thick sauce, try using only coconut milk. If you’re not happy with the result, this simply gives you an excuse to “experiment” and make this dish again. 😉
  • Here’s a great recipe I found for paleo-friendly naan! You can also serve this dish with roasted vegetables, cauliflower rice, or crispy chicken skin “chips” (see recipe below).
Monika's Molecular Meals: Coriander & Coconut Paleo Chicken Curry

Make These Crispy Chicken Skin “Chips” For A Crunchy Paleo Snack (And Less Waste!)

I see so many people toss perfectly good chicken skin in the trash… not realizing they’re throwing away the most delicious part of the dang chicken!

Fat is flavor. It’s not a secret, and that includes the fat in chicken skin.

And while yes, chicken skin does feel a little slimy rubbery, even when it’s raw… when it’s crisped up to perfection in a cast iron pan?

Well, let’s just say you won’t be reaching for the potato chips again anytime soon.

Here’s what you do:

Pat the chicken skin dry, slice it into “chips,” and set it aside.

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In a clean cast iron pan, add 3-4 Tbsp of coconut oil and heat until very, very hot (should be shimmering).

Using tongs or a spider strainer, gently place the chicken skin pieces in the pan. It will sputter and splatter, so be careful!

Using tongs, press gently down on the skin to keep it submerged in the oil. You want to avoid getting any “bubbles” in the chips, so this will help keep them flat.

Continue frying for 1-2 minutes per side, or until golden brown (but not burnt). Flip the skin, fry for 1-2 minutes on the other side, and remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

Sprinkle the “chips” with salt immediately, and eat up! Yum.


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“What About Dessert?”

If you’re doing paleo, then you probably already kissed your desserts a teary goodbye.

(And before we go any further, no, a piece of fruit does not, in my mind, count as “dessert.”)

Sometimes, though… you just need something sweet after your meal. It’s just not the same without it!

And while I used to pretend I could resist it… I’d do the dishes, put everything away, get ready for bed, and even brush my teeth… 9 times out of 10, I’d still end up sneaking a few bites of ice cream before bed.

(OK, that’s not 100% true… usually it was more like half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. *oops*)

Trying to resist your cravings might work for some people in the short-term… but if you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off long-term? 

It’s practically impossible… and eventually, your body is going to give in.

(Even if you stopped keeping sweets around the house to avoid temptation… I’ve been sabotaged by muffins and donuts during breakfast work meetings on more occasions than I’d care to admit…)

But there’s a better way… where you can have your cake and eat it too. 

(And not feel guilty about it afterwards.)

Instead of reaching for the high-calorie, sugary sweets… you can indulge without guilt in these decadent dessert recipes… and your tastebuds will never notice the difference.

(Just be prepared for jealous coworkers who don’t get how you keep losing weight while bringing fudge brownies to work each day!)

They’re easy to make at home… are a paleo dieter’s dream… and you only have to share if you want to.

They’re actually healthy enough to enjoy every single day… and still lose weight!

Here’s how it’s done:

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[Note: This post was updated by Fit Trim Happy on March 22, 2020.]

Monika Knapp

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