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Chicken Drumstick Curry

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You are going to love this chicken drumstick curry!

As you can see from the date at the top of this recipe, this chicken drumstick curry has been on my blog for a while. Recently I revisited the recipe and perfected it! You need to try this latest version. Chicken drumsticks are often overlooked as they are cheap and more difficult to eat in a curry. They are, however the most delicious part of the chicken and those bones help flavour the sauce.

This curry is made from scratch in a south Indian style. It’s delicious served with fluffy plain white rice or any flavoured rice. You might also like to serve it with naans or chapatis. Don’t forget the samosas!

Chicken drumstick curry

About this chicken drumstick curry.

Chicken drumstick curry, also known as Chicken Drumstick Masala, is a flavourful and aromatic curry commonly prepared in South India. There are many different variations but this coconut and tomato sauce is hugely popular.

This recipe is Keralan in origin and it can be made in about 35 minutes! It’s spicy but not overly so. Make this chicken drumstick curry and you are going to be transferred to southern India without even needing to leave your kitchen.

Is this chicken drumstick curry difficult to make?

Not at all. You will need to roast and grind a few spices but that isn’t hard. Although you could cheat and just use a prepared spice blend that is similar, you will get far better results when you roast and grind you own spices.

Not only is the flavour better but that aroma of the finished curry is to die for!

Can you adjust this recipe to taste?

Yes! No problem. Cooking your own curries is all about making them as amazing as they can be for your taste preferences.

Not only can you omit, reduce or increase the amount of spices used, you could opt for another cut of chicken.

I hope you try this curry the way I learned it with chicken drumsticks but go ahead and use bone-in or boneless chicken breasts or thighs if you like.

Can you use light coconut milk instead of the full fat stuff?

Yes. As mentioned above, this chicken drumstick curry can and should be adjusted to how you want it.

If using light coconut milk is preferable for your diet, go ahead and use that instead. When I first watched this curry being prepared, it was with freshly made thick coconut milk and that’s how I prefer to make it at home.

Making your own thick coconut milk is a bit of a chore though, so tinned (canned) coconut milk is fine.

There are quite a lot of whole spices going into this curry?

That’s right! Believe me, the recipe works! When toasted and ground, those spices blend right into the sauce and it is a flavour sensation like no other.


  1. Be sure to roast and grind your whole spices. Although similar commercial spice masalas can be substituted, it just won’t be the same.
  2. You want to allow the base masala to simmer gently for a good 8 minutes before adding the chicken and remaining ingredients for optimum flavour.
  3. At first the curry will be quite liquidy. Be sure to simmer it to your preferred consistency.

Step by step photographs

Ingredients for chicken drumstick curry

Get all your ingredients together before you start cooking.

Toasting the whole spices in a frying pan

Toast the whole spices in a pan until warm to the touch and fragrant. Allow to cool some and grind to a fine powder.

Prepared ingredients for the curry

Blend the garlic, ginger and chillies. Then blend the onions and tomatoes. Here are all the prepared ingredients for this curry.

Chicken drumsticks coated with ground turmeric.

Rub the ground turmeric all over the chicken drumsticks.

Infusing mustard seeds and curry leaves in the hot oil.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the mustard seeds. When they begin to crackle, stir in the curry leaves.

Stiring garlic, ginger and chilli into the oil.

Stir in the garlic, ginger and chilli paste and allow it to fry for about 30 seconds.

Adding ground spice blend and also chilli powder to the oil.

Stir in the ground spices and chilli powder.

Adding the blended onion and tomatoes to the curry.

Now add the onion and tomato blend and stir it into the other ingredients.

Adding the chicken to the pan.

Stir in the chicken and ensure it is coated with the sauce. You could also add about 70ml (1/4 cup) to ensure nothing burns. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is turning white on the exterior.

Simmering curry

Pour in the coconut milk and cover the pan to simmer for about 10 minutes. Then lift the lid and continue simmering to your preferred consistency. Add the black pepper and salt to taste.

Chicken drumstick curry

Serve hot with rice.


If you like a good chicken and coconut curry, here are a few more recipes you might like to try:

Sri Lankan Black Pepper Chicken Curry
Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk
Simple Chicken Curry (no coconut in this one but you can add coconut milk to taste.)
Authentic Curry House Style Chicken Korma


Yield: 4 - 6

Chicken Drumstick Curry

Chicken Drumstick Curry
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 15 chicken legs - skinned with shallow slits cut into the meat
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 7 cloves garlic - smashed
  • 1 x 5cm (2 inch) piece of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 2 - 3 green finger chillies, roughly chopped
  • 2 large onions - roughly chopped
  • 200g (7 oz) chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 20 fresh or frozen curry leaves, plus more to garnish
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder (more or less to taste)
  • 1 small bunch coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
  • 1 x 400ml (14 fl oz) tinned (canned) thick coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 limes, quartered, to serve


  1. Mix the chicken legs with the turmeric so that the legs are evenly coated with the turmeric. Set aside.
  2. Place the cumin, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon stick and peppercorns in a frying pan and toast over medium high heat until warm to the touch and fragrant. Be careful not to burn them.
  3. Using a spice grinder or pestle and mortar, grind all of these spices into a fine powder.
  4. Place the garlic, ginger and green chillies in a small food processor and blend with a little water into a paste. Set aside.
  5. Now blend the onion and tomato together to form another smooth paste.
  6. Heat the oil in a large pan or wok over a medium-high heat. When visibly hot, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to crackle, toss in the curry leaves.
  7. Let these sizzle for about 30 seconds and then stir in the garlic, ginger and chilli paste. Stir in the ground spices you prepared and Kashmiri chilli powder and continue cooking for another minute.
  8. Fry, stirring continuously for about 30 seconds and then pour in the onion/tomato paste mixture. Fry this, stirring often for about 5 minutes or until this base masala has turned a couple of tones darker.
  9. Add the chicken legs and stir them in so that they are coated with the base masala ingredients.
  10. Now add the chopped coriander, followed by the coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
  11. Lift the lid and continue simmering to thicken the sauce until you are happy with the consistency.
  12. Check for seasoning and add salt to taste. Garnish with a handful of fresh curry leaves if you like and serve with the quartered limes over rice.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 409Trans Fat: 0gCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 168g

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Chicken drumstick curry

I absolutely love this coconut chicken curry. Hope you give it a try. You can also use other cuts of chicken.


Saturday 18th of May 2024

Hi, 15 drumsticks is quite specific. Is there a weight consideration? I have 8 drumsticks weighing 1.4 kilos, so wondering if that quantity of chicken to spices ratio would still work for me

Dan Toombs

Monday 20th of May 2024

That should be fine but be careful with any hot spices, maybe add less of those. Thanks Dan


Wednesday 2nd of November 2022

Brilliant recipe- utterly delicious. Can’t imagine it without the curry leaves or coconut 🤷🏼


Wednesday 1st of February 2023

Hi @Dan Toombs, can I use spices in a powder form except the mustard sends? Also, I've never used curry leaves before, idk where to find them. Thank you

Dan Toombs

Thursday 3rd of November 2022

Thanks very much, one of my favourites too! Dan

Jairaj Mulay

Sunday 10th of March 2019

Is it okay to use coconut milk instead of block coconut? If yes how much of the milk? Btw the dish looks delicious.

Dan Toombs

Saturday 16th of March 2019

Hi Jairaj

Sure is. Try about 200ml thick coconut milk. You could add a little more or less to taste.

Thanks, Dan


Friday 22nd of February 2019

Will omitting the coconut make much difference? Is there a substitute you suggest? I am allergic to coconut.

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 26th of February 2019

Hi Nata

The coconut plays a big part in the flavour of this dish. That said, you could leave it out and it will still taste great.

Thanks, Dan


Tuesday 29th of January 2019

Am trying this today as the grandchildren are eating and don't like too much spice in their food. Am sure it will turn out nice

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 26th of February 2019

Great to hear. Thank you.


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