Kerala Chicken Stew with Coconut Milk

This chicken stew with an aromatic coconut milk gravy is a great comfort food. It's simple and quick to make, doesn't need many ingredients and most importantly, is so delicious and satisfying. This recipe is from Kerala, a state in India where they use a lot of both fresh coconut and coconut milk in their cooking. Creamy coconut milk makes this stew very soothing, cinnamon and cloves warm you up, you can taste just a hint of ginger and sweetness of onions. Green chillies are optional if you prefer a very mild food, but they add a nice kick to the stew. We like eating with some nice white bread, which we dip into the gravy so that not a drop of this goodness gets waisted. It tastes and in person looks much better than in a picture!

You will need:
1/2 kg chicken pieces, skinless or with skin
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 cm ginger root, peeled and chopped
12 black peppercorns
3 cm cinnamon stick, broken into smaller pieces
5 cloves
1 cup coconut milk
10 curry leaves (optional)
2 green chillies, chopped (cut lengthwise and remove seeds for a milder version)
salt to taste
oil for frying

1. Heat some oil in a pot with a thick bottom and first fry the onion until it becomes soft. Don't let it brown, reduce the flame if it starts burning.

2. Next, add the ginger and fry for another moment.

3. Add cinnamon, black peppercorns, cloves and curry leaves and fry them only until they release the aroma. Don't worry if you cannot get curry leaves, just skip them.

4. Add the potatoes and fry for another minute before adding the chicken pieces, keep frying for a couple of minutes or till the chicken pieces start browning lightly on all sides.

5. Mix 1/2 of the coconut milk with 1/2 cup of water, pour over the chicken and bring it to a boil.

6. Add green chillies (optional) and salt to taste, cover the pot, reduce the flame and cook till the potatoes and chicken are done. It will take you 10-15 minutes, the time will depend on the size of the pieces.

7. Once it's cooked, mix in the remaining half of the coconut milk and remove the pot from the flame. Adding some coconut milk right at the end of the cooking, adds a nice fresh coconut flavour to the stew.