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Goan Chicken Curry

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Goan chicken curry is a dish I just don’t make often enough.

You are going to love this simple Goan chicken curry. I learned to make it while travelling around southern Goa, which is located on the southwestern coast of India.

Goa is known for its rich and diverse cuisine, influenced by the Portuguese and Konkan people using ingredients that are locally grown. I have simplified this recipe, however so that all of the ingredients can be easily sourced in your local supermarket.

This Goan chicken curry recipe comes complete with step by step photos so no excuses! If you like spicy and flavourful curries, you’ve got to give this curry a try soon.

Goan Chicken Curry


About this recipe

There are of course many different recipes for Goan chicken curry. Every Goan family probably has their own play on this easy curry which like most Goan recipes features coconut oil, coconut milk, tamarind and a lot of different locally grown spices.

While preparing this Goan chicken curry this time around, I was staying at my parents home in California. Luckily, they had all the fresh ingredients growing in their garden from curry leaves to garlic and limes. It tasted just as good as the Goan chicken curry I love in Goa and now you can make this delicious curry too.

What are the ingredients that go into a Goan chicken curry?

Recipes will vary but following is an overview of what typically goes into a Goan chicken curry just like the one you will see in the recipe card below.


Chicken: The best chicken for Goan chicken curry is from the thigh and on the bone. You always want to skin the chicken meat before adding to the curry. The bone-in chicken pieces add more flavour than if you use boneless. That said, I used boneless this time around.

Some people just don’t like bones in a curry so feel free to use boneless chicken thighs if you must.

The base masala.

Coconut oil: Although you could use other oils with a high smoking point, coconut oil is traditionally used to make Goan chicken curry. It’s a local ingredient so it is easy to get for the Goans and it also adds an amazing, yet subtle flavour of coconut that is delicious.
Mustard seeds: Black mustard seeds play an important role in the flavour of Goan chicken curry. They add a nutty flavour that is so good. You fry the mustard seeds in the coconut oil over a high heat. The seeds will begin to crackle and burst their flavour into the oil.
Curry Leaves: There are no substitutes for curry leaves which have a flavour all their own. You can use fresh or frozen curry leaves in this Goan chicken curry. Stay away from dried curry leaves which have little to no flavour. The curry leaves are added right after the mustard seeds to flavour the oil before adding the other ingredients.
Onions: Any can be used but small red onions, finely chopped are most commonly added to Goan chicken curry.
Garlic and ginger paste: You can use garlic and ginger paste or finely chopped garlic and ginger. Just ensure that you fry your garlic and ginger for about a minute to cook out the raw flavour and aroma before carrying on with the recipe.
Green chillies: You can used green finger chillies or bird’s eye chillies here if you are trying to stay traditional. If these chillies are not available, you could also use jalapeños or serrano chillies. Green chillies should always be added to taste. If you are not sure about the spiciness, add fewer. More chillies can always be added later in the cooking process.

For the Sauce

Once you have your base masala simmering away, it’s time to add the spices and liquid. The following ingredients are used in this Goan chicken curry recipe and many others.

Kashmiri chilli powder: This should always be added to taste. Other chillie powder can be substituted if more convenient.
Ground turmeric: Turmeric adds a bitter flavour to the curry and is therefore only a little is used. It also adds a beautiful golden glow to the sauce.
Ground cumin: Both ground and whole cumin are used in Goan chicken curry. Yes, you will taste the difference in whole and ground cumin.
Ground coriander: Ground coriander tastes nothing like the leafy green coriander (cilantro). This spice adds a citrusy flavour.
Garam Masala: You probably already know that garam masala is a blend of many different warming spices. It is best to use homemade garam masala as it has a lot more flavour and aroma.
Chopped tomatoes: These are added to give the curry more sauce as well as adding a tart and subtly sweet flavour.
Coconut milk: This coconut milk adds a creaminess to the sauce.
Tamarind pulp or lemon/lime juice: This is a souring agent that is so good in Goan chicken curry. Tamarind pulp is normally used but you can use lemon or lime juice to taste.

How long can you keep Goan chicken curry in the fridge?

You can store this curry in the fridge for up to 3 days or perhaps longer. Let your eyes and nose decide. One thing is certain… Goan chicken curry will get better if you do keep it in the fridge. The flavours will develop as it rests.

This means that you can prepare this curry a few days ahead of serving and it will be even better.

To reheat it, just pour it all into a saucepan and heat it through over a medium heat. If you only have a little to heat up, you could reheat it in your microwave until heated through.

Can you freeze this curry

Yes but if you are preparing Goan chicken curry to freeze, don’t add the coconut milk. Add the coconut milk when you reheat it for best results.

If you do have a couple of portions with coconut milk already added, go ahead and freeze it. Coconut milk does not freeze well but it will still be delicious.

If you decide to freeze this curry, be sure to freeze it in portion sizes that are convenient for you. Then let it defrost completely and reheat in a saucepan over a medium heat or in your microwave.

Step by step photographs

Note: In the following photos, I doubled the recipe as I was serving a lot of people. The cooking process is the same though.

Ingredients for the curry

Get all your ingredients together before you start cooking. It’s easier that way.

Tempering the mustard seeds in the coconut oil.

Heat the coconut oil over a high heat and then add the mustard seeds.

Adding the curry leaves and bay leaves to the hot coconut oil.

When the mustard seeds begin to crackle in the hot oil, add the bay leaves, curry leaves and cinnamon stick and fry for about 30 seconds.


Adding the chopped onions to the pan

Stir in the chopped onions and fry for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.

Adding the garlic, ginger and chillies.

Add the chopped garlic and ginger along with the chillies and fry for a further 30 seconds.

Adding the chicken to the base masala.

Now add the chicken pieces and stir them into the base masala to coat.

Adding the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk to the pan.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes and the coconut milk. Stir well and bring to a simmer.

Simmering the chicken in the sauce.

Bring it all to a simmer and then cover the pan to cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes.

Adding salt and pepper to taste.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and also add the lime/lemon juice to taste.

Goan chicken curry

Delicious serves simply with white rice or matta rice.

If you like this chicken coconut curry, you might like to try some of these equally delicious chicken curries.

Chicken Majestic
Jamaican One Pot Chicken Curry
Chicken Methi Curry
Restaurant Style Chicken Chaat
Chicken Katsu Curry
Shahi Chicken Korma
Jeera Chicken
Chicken Changezi
Green Chilli Chicken Curry
Sri Lankan Chicken Curry
Restaurant Style Chicken Tikka Masala
Goan Chicken Vindaloo
Chinese Chicken Curry
Japanese Chicken Curry
Coconut Chicken Curry

Have you tried this Goan Chicken Curry? 

If yes, please give it a star rating in the recipe card below and leave a comment. I love receiving your feedback and I’m sure other readers of my blog do too. Thank you.

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Yield: 4 - 6

Chicken and Coconut Curry

Goan Chicken Curry
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 30 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 1 x 5cm (2 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 2 Indian bay leaves (cassia leaves)
  • 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste or finely chopped garlic and ginger
  • 4 green finger chillies or other green chillies such as jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 kilo (2lbs) chicken thighs, skinned and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 400ml (1 1/2 cups) chopped tomatoes
  • 800ml (3 1/4 cups) thick coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lime or lemon juice to taste


  1. Heat the coconut oil over a high heat and add the mustard seeds. When they begin to crackle, add the curry leaves, cinnamon stick and bay leaves and fry for a further 30 seconds.
  2. Now add the chopped onions and fry for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger paste along with the chopped chillies and fry for a further minute.
  3. Stir in the ground spices and then the chicken. Stir it all well to combine and then add the coconut milk and chopped tomatoes.
  4. Bring this all to a simmer and then cover the pan and allow it to simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste and also add lemon/lime juice to taste. Serve hot, garnished with the fresh coriander (cilantro).

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 186Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 190mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 3g

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Friday 14th of January 2022

What can you substitute curry leaves with when you haven’t got curry leaves?

Dan Toombs

Friday 21st of January 2022

I am afraid there is no substitution for curry leaves so you would have to leave them out. They so freeze well so if you ever find then buy a lot! Thanks Dan


Saturday 11th of May 2019

Hi Dan, I have a few questions. What do you do with curry leaves after frying them? Are they left whole and discarded or kept in the dish? When your recipes call for 2 tbsp of garlic and ginger paste is it a combination of 1tbsp of garlic and 1 tsp of ginger or 2tbsp of each for a total of 4 tbsp? I look forward to hearing from you so I can attempt this recipe!

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 29th of May 2019

Hi Monique

Garlic and ginger paste is a combination of garlic and ginger blended together. As for the curry leaves, I love them. Leave them in the dish. They're good for you too.

Thanks, Dan

Keith Murch

Saturday 8th of September 2018

Great recipe Dan taste is beautiful I added half a block of coconut to thicken up.

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 19th of September 2018

Great to hear Keith. Thank you.



Tuesday 17th of May 2016

Nice one dan i enjoyed makeing this one and the kidz loved it :)

James Travis

Sunday 1st of March 2015

Good recipe

Dan Toombs

Thursday 5th of March 2015

Thank you James. :-)

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