Basil Chicken Coconut Curry

DinnerIndianGluten-FreeCurry

Basil coconut chicken curry made with chicken thighs, jalapeño, coconut milk, basil and ginger

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

One of the things I love about curries is that they are so varied and adaptable—from soupy to thick and creamy, from mild to fiery, in colors yellow, green, red, or brown.

This is one of my favorites, a yellow curry in a coconut milk base, with chicken, onions, jalapeños, lime juices, and plenty of fresh basil.

We use chicken thigh meat because its stronger flavor holds up well to all the spices. It comes together quickly, and makes for good leftovers too!

Basil Chicken Coconut Curry

Basil Chicken Coconut Curry Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

We use chicken thigh meat because of the deeper flavor, but you can use chicken breast meat if you prefer.

This is a mild curry. You can increase the heat with more cayenne. Please note that jalapeños vary greatly in heat.  Check the spiciness of your jalapeños and adjust the recipe to taste.

Note that what we usually buy labelled "curry powder" is just a spice mix, made up of various spices, like those in the following ingredients, including a good portion of turmeric, which gives the curry powder its yellow color. Feel free to experiment a little with the spices listed here to get the taste you like the best.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • A small pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 large onion, sliced root to tip
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil, rice bran oil or Indian ghee
  • 1 14-oz can coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice, or to taste
  • 12-20 fresh basil leaves, torn roughly
  • Hot cooked rice for serving

Method

1 Mix the spices: In a small bowl, mix together the salt, ground coriander, cumin, ground cloves, cinnamon, ground cardamom, black pepper, cayenne and turmeric. Set aside.

2 Sauté onions, jalapeños, ginger, garlic, spices: In a wok or deep sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat. The moment the oil begins to smoke, add the onions and jalapeños and toss to coat in oil. Sear the vegetables for 3 minutes, stirring only enough to keep them from burning, but still allowing the onions to sear.

Add the ginger, garlic and spice mixture and toss to combine, cook for 1 minute.

3 Add coconut milk, chicken, simmer:  Add the coconut milk and chicken. Stir the mixture so that the chicken pieces are coated in the coconut milk. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

4 Add basil, lime juice: When the chicken is tender, turn off the heat and add the basil and lime juice. Add more lime juice and salt to taste and serve over rice.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

Links:

 Thai Green Basil Curry with Chicken, from The Perfect Pantry

Jungle Curry, from Rasa Malaysia

Thai Green Curry with Fish and Basil, from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Basil Chicken Coconut Curry

122 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Ashlyne

    Love this recipe! We’re from Fiji and use coconut milk in manyu of our dishes… we don’t actually cook the chicken in the coconut milk or boil coconut milk…I chilled the can of coconut milk to separate the water from the cream…only added the water part while cooking the chicken, and then added the coconut cream after everything was cooked (turn the heat off, add the cream, stir, and let it sit for a 5 minutes before serving). This technique makes the curry very creamy with a nice colour and texture. Will be making this dish on the regular!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Big Fan

    Great recipe.

    I’m always looking to increase my veggie intake, so on this one I added half a small zucchini, halved then quartered, then cut into little quarter moon wedges about an eighth inch thick.

    My order of veggies on the sautée was red pepper (high heat to get a hint of char), then (medium heat) onion then zucchini then jalapeño then garlic. Then when the veggies feel like they have come together I add the curry mix.

    For ginger, I use an organic minced ginger from a jar.

  • Poppy

    My kids LOVE this dish that they ask me to make it quite often. I’ve made it exactly as is and I’ve also made it by doubling the sauce (we love sauce) and adding veggies to make it healthier for them.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Emily

    We make this recipe exactly as written and it is delicious. Thank you!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Tim Newberry

    Wow! Desperately looking for some means of ameliorating the huge amount of salt! Wish I’d only put half the amount in and then added if necessary! Added a smidge of honey, some more pepper, extra coconut milk and some okra and now cooking rice without salt hoping it will be edible.
    Other than that I’m sure it’s great!

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Basil Chicken Coconut CurryBasil Chicken Coconut Curry