Spicy Cashew Coconut Chicken

I’m just going to say it straight up: this is definitely my favorite Sri Lankan recipe so far and quite possibly my favorite recipe this month.  Chicken gets marinated in a spicy coconut cashew paste, browned on the stove, and then gets finished off by a simmer in a coconut milk.

It’s really the perfect dish to serve at a dinner party: exotic enough to impress your foodie friends, but familiar enough to appeal to non-adventurous eaters and kids. It’s also a perfect match for that Sri Lankan rice  that I posted a couple days ago.


Spicy Cashew Coconut Chicken

Yield: 6-8 servings


* 1/2 cup roasted cashews
* 1/4 cup toasted, unsweetened, dried coconut
* 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
* 1/4 cup canned diced tomatoes
* 2 Tablespoons water
* 1 teaspoon cayenne
* 2 teaspoons ground fennel
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
* 1 Serrano pepper, quartered lengthwise
* 1/2 cinnamon stick
* 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
* 2 pounds boneless chicken (I used thighs)
* 2 Tablespoons oil
* 1 can (~15 ounces) coconut milk
* Salt and pepper to taste


To prepare the marinade, grind the cashews, coconut, onion, tomatoes and water in a blender or food processor until it becomes a thick, gritty paste. Remove to a large bowl and add the cayenne, fennel, cumin, fenugreek, Serrano pepper, cinnamon stick and fresh ginger and stir to combine. Add the chicken and coat each piece well. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for an hour.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and brown each side, about 5-6 minutes each side. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has mostly evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Adapted from Sri Lankan Cooking

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9 Responses to “Spicy Cashew Coconut Chicken”

  1. #
    Made With Pink — May 20, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    This lpoke delicious! My husband is Sri Lankan, but can't cook their food so I'm definitely going to make this! Thanks so much!


  2. #
    Shumaila — May 20, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    This looks so good. Will give it a shot! Thanks for sharing!


  3. #
    Torviewtoronto — May 21, 2011 at 12:01 am

    delicious looking chicken curry wonderfully done


  4. #
    smokinchestnut — May 23, 2011 at 3:12 am

    Oh, I'm definitely making this soon! Those flavors sound absolutely amazing. Will pair it with the delicious-looking Sri Lankan rice, too!


  5. #
    Jun — May 23, 2011 at 3:47 am

    This definitely is going to be my favorite too!


  6. #
    smokinchestnut — June 13, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I made this a few nights ago and it was SO great! Flavorful, unique and a great way to change up chicken. Made it with the Sri Lankan rice (which was also great!) and will definitely be making this again. Thanks for your great recipes!


  7. #
    CATE — June 14, 2011 at 3:12 am

    So glad you liked it!


  8. #
    Kirsten — May 1, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    I made this last night and it was delish! Will defiantly be cooking this one again. I made with bone-in chicken drums so required a little extra cooking but still fantastic. Would be great in the slowcooker as well i think!


    • Cate — May 1st, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

      Yay- so glad you liked it Kirsten! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment to let me know :)


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