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Chicken Xacuti

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Chicken xacuti is one of the most popular curries from Goa.

This chicken xacuti recipe is from my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy Light’. In that book, I used less oil because a lot of oil just isn’t needed to make a delicious chicken xacuti. Here you will find the original recipe I learned in southern Goa and it’s so good! 

Chicken xacuti

What is chicken xacuti?

Chicken xacutti is one of Goa’s most famous curries. There, it is usually cooked with skinned chicken on the bone. You can do this too for even better flavour but it is also messier to eat. This time around I used boneless chicken thighs.

This chicken curry with coconut is known for being spicy and for it subtle flavour of nutmeg and star anise. There is so much delicious flavour in a chicken xacuti curry and you might be surprised at just how complex those flavours. 

If you love chicken curry with subtle sour, savoury and spicy flavours, then xacuti definitely needs to be one on your list to try.

Make this coconut chicken curry your own.

As mentioned above, chicken xacuti can be quite spicy, especially in Goa. The curry is usually spicy hot because of the use of both dried whole red chillies and chilli powder to taste. You might have seen them very red in colour. This is because of the amount of chilli powder used.

You can of course tone down the spice. Cut back on the chilli powder or if you prefer and red curry that isn’t too spicy, try adding paprika instead.

For that matter, you can adjust the curry by using more or less of all of the different spices.

Do you have to use chicken in a xacuti curry?

No! Although you will find that chicken xacuti is by far the most popular, you can use the protein of your choice. Try making the sauce and adding lamb, tofu, paneer, prawns… whatever you like. The cooking times will differ so watch your xacuti carefully if doing this. 

Some spices are difficult to find. Do you have to add them all?

No. Add what you can. For authenticity, I recommend following this recipe exactly, using all the spices. That said, it will still be delicious if you need to leave a few out.

What do you serve with a chicken xacuti?

If you’d like to make your xacuti curry into a feast, you might like to start with  Basmati rice or mushroom fried rice.

If you’d like to make naans, why not try one of these?  Instant naans, Peshwari naans, stove top naans, keema naans, garlic naans, tandoor naans (if you have a tandoor oven), or if you’re cooking outdoors, karahi naans. Or you could opt for some delicious  homemade chapatis.

You might also like to serve this with a good and easy tarka dal or slowly simmered dal makhani.

Want to start your chicken xacuti meal off right? How about fried shop bought poppadoms or if you’re feeling ambitious, make your own poppadoms from scratch and serve them with coriander chutney, red onion chutney, and/or tamarind chutney.

Chicken xacuti in step by step photos.

Ingredient for xacuti

Don’t let the amount of spices scare you off. Get them all ready before you start. I promise, this will be worth your effort.

Toasting coconut flakes and chillies.

To save time, toast the chillies and coconut flakes together. Take the chillies out and soak them in water after a few minutes.

Browning the coconut

With the chillies soaking, continue browning the coconut flakes until golden brown in places. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Working ahead

All of the grinding of the spices, coconut and spice blend can be done a couple of days ahead of time.

You can also marinate the chicken a day or so before cooking. 

If you would really like to get a head start, you can prepare the whole curry a couple of days before serving. The flavours will develop and you will love the results. Then all you need to do is heat it up. 

Toasting the spices

Now toast the spices over a medium high heat until warm to the touch and fragrant but not yet smoking. Transfer to the plate with the coconut.

Beginning to grind the spices.

Place the toasted spices in a spice grinder and grind to a very fine powder.

Adding the toasted coconut flakes to the ground spices

Then add the toasted coconut flakes and grind them to a fine powder with the spices too.

Adding the garlic, ginger and soaked chillies.

Now add the garlic, ginger and soaked chillies and grind to a paste using just enough water to do so.

Rubbing the spice paste into the chicken

Rub the spice paste right into the chicken. You can leave this overnight if you like or go straight to cooking.

Frying the mustard seeds and curry leaves.

Heat the oil over a medium high heat and add the mustard seeds. When they begin to crackle stir in the curry leaves and fry for about 40 seconds.

Adding onions and frying them. Then adding ground spices and chillies.

Add the chopped onions and fry until soft and lightly browned. Then add the nutmeg, chilli powder (if using) and the chillies. If not sure about the heat, chilli powder can be added later.

Adding the chicken and water or stock

Add the chicken and brown it for a couple of minutes. Then top with water and simmer covered for 20 minutes.

Adding tamarind and chopped coriander.

Stir in the tamarind concentrate and the coriander and simmer until you are happy with the sauce consistency.

Finished chicken xacuti

All done!

chicken xacuti finished

Dig in!

chicken xacuti curry

You are going to love this one.


Yield: 4 - 6

Goan Chicken Xacutti

chicken xacuti
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 6 Kashmiri dried red chillies, chopped (seeds removed for a milder curry and more or less to taste.)
  • 75g (1 cup) dried coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ajwain (carom) seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp black poppy seeds
  • 7 cloves
  • 1 tbsp (about 35) black peppercorns 5cm (2in) piece of cinnamon stick
  • 4 star anise
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5cm (2in) piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 8 skinless chicken thighs on the bone
  • 3tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 10 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 green bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
  • 500ml (2 cups) chicken stock or water
  • 1 1⁄2 tbsp tamarind paste or concentrate
  • 1⁄4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 - 2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder or paprika (optional)
  • 20g (1⁄4 cup) coriander (cilantro),
  • finely chopped Salt, to taste


  1. Start by making the xacuti masala. In a dry frying pan, toast the Kashmiri chillies for about 1 minute, turning regularly until fragrant. Place in a bowl of warm water to soak for about 30 minutes. Now toast the coconut flakes until lightly browned and set aside.
  2. Toast the cumin, coriander, ajwain (carom) seeds, fennel and poppy seeds, the cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and star anise over a medium–high heat until fragrant and warm to the touch. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
  3. When the chillies are soft, drain them, reserving the soaking water, then blend them with the coconut flakes and the rest of the masala ingredients, along with a little of the chilli soaking water to make a paste, but taste the water first: if it is bitter, use fresh water instead.
  4. Pour the paste over the chicken in a large bowl and mix well to coat. You can start cooking the curry now, but if you would like to marinate the chicken for a couple of hours or overnight, it will be even better.
  5. When ready to cook, heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over a high heat. When bubbles begin to form on the bottom of the pan, add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop (after about 30 seconds), reduce the heat to medium–high and stir in the curry leaves and let them flavour the oil for about 30 seconds. You’ll know when the oil is perfectly flavoured because it will smell so nice.
  6. Add the onions and fry for about 5 minutes until soft, lightly browned and translucent. Stir in the chillies, then the chicken and all of the marinade. Stir well to coat the chicken in the onion mixture. Add the stock or water and simmer for about 15 minutes until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
  7. Stir in the tamarind paste or concentrate and nutmeg, then give it a taste. For a sourer flavour, add more tamarind. Nutmeg can taste quite strong to some, but add more if you like. If you like it spicier add the chilli powder or paprika. To serve, stir in the coriander (cilantro) and season with salt.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 433Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 196mgSodium: 563mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 6gSugar: 10gProtein: 45g

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 I hope you enjoy this chicken xacuti recipe as much as my family and I do. If you do try it, please don’t be a stranger. I’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment. 


Margaret Forman

Friday 2nd of September 2022

I had a goan chicken curry in soho yesterday which inspired me to make my own. Your recipe is terrific , but why was the restaurant one a rich brown and mine was a mucky grey colour? How do they get the reddy brown colour?

Dan Toombs

Sunday 4th of September 2022

Don't worry too much about the colour, as long as it tasted good. It depends a lot on what brand of ingredients you use and even could be down to the photography. Thanks Dan


Monday 10th of December 2018

Great tasting recipe. I used bone in chicken thighs. With the quantities given there is enough gravy to use about 750 grams of chicken. Next I want to try making this with eggs or fish instead of chicken.

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 12th of December 2018

Thanks Mark! I usually make it with chicken on the bone too. When I was in Goa, I tried a shark xacutti which was amazing. Thinking about trying it here with swordfish as shark is a bit difficult to come by.

Thanks, Dan

Martin Bartlett

Thursday 6th of December 2018

I really want to try this recipe Dan, but looking at the ingredients of the Xacutti paste it says to use 1tsp of black peppercorns (approx 35), this seems a lot, so why not a teaspoon of ground black pepper? I think there will be a lot less than 35 peppercorns in a teaspoon but then it depends on how large they are! Looking forward to the new Low Fat book and the Vegetarian one too next year.

Dan Toombs

Thursday 13th of December 2018

Hi Martin

Thank you very much. Definitely tone the recipe down to your tastes. If you think less pepper will be better, do that. You can always add more to taste in the end.

Thanks, Dan


Saturday 6th of October 2018

the flavours of the spices , are fantastic , used creamed coconut did i do right couldnt get flakes.another great recipe to do again, keep it up dan

Dan Toombs

Thursday 18th of October 2018

Thank you very much Dave! Creamed coconut works fine!


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