Chicken Curry with a Cashew-Coconut Sauce

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The other day, Maus said she felt like some Indian food.  I got out Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible to see what I could find.  “I didn’t say I wanted curry.  I said Indian,” she retorted.  Not to be deterred, I flicked through my book and stopped at this recipe.  I have made curries with a cashew sauce before and they have been very nice.  I was keen.

Don’t tell Maus but this is a Sri Lankan recipe.  It is not very photogenic but, geez, it tasted good.  We had it for dinner two nights in a row and for lunch.  It got better each time.

The recipe calls for fresh pandanus (rampe) leaf.  Maus tried the local Vietnamese vegetable shop but they didn’t have any.  We were off to Bridgetown that day so we didn’t try any other shops so I don’t know if it is hard to find.  We’ve  had dried rampe for ages but recently threw it out as we rarely used it and it was getting old.

The curry still tasted good without the rampe and even if it wasn’t Indian:)

This recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible.


  • 1.35kg of chicken pieces, skinned (I used thighs)
  • 2 tbs* ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground fennel
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt
  • 1 tbs* raw rice
  • 2 tbs* desiccated coconut
  • 3 cardamom pods (white)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 tbs* raw cashews, chopped 
  • 4 tbs* oil
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • ½ tsp whole fenugreek seeds
  • 5 tbs* shallots, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 5cm fresh pandanus leaf (rampe)
  • 1 green chilli, chopped (as you can see from the photo, I used a red chilli, just because I had one)
  • 140g tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 120 mls coconut milk

*These are 15 mil tablespoons


  1. Put chicken pieces in a large bowl.
  2. Mix together the coriander, cumin, fennel and cayenne pepper and 1 tsp of salt.
  3. Rub the spices all over the chicken and leave them for, at least, 20 minutes.
  4. Put the rice in a small frying pan, over medium-high heat and stir until it turns golden. Add the coconut and stir it until it turns golden, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  5. When cool, grind the rice and coconut together with the cardamon pods and cloves in a spice or coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle.
  6. Add the cashews and grind.
  7. Empty mixture into a small bowl, slowly mix in ½ cup of water to form a paste.  Set aside.
  8. Put the oil into a pan with a lid and over medium-high heat.
  9. When the oil is hot, add the cinnamon, fenugreek seeds, shallots, garlic, chilli and pandanus (rampe) leaf.  Stir for a couple of minutes or until the shallots start to turn translucent.
  10. Add the chicken and brown lightly.
  11. Add the tomato, 600mls of water and another 1½ tsp of salt.
  12. Stir in the spice and nut paste. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce the heat to low and cook gently for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked to your liking.
  13. Stir in the coconut milk and heat through.

13 thoughts on “Chicken Curry with a Cashew-Coconut Sauce

  1. Just back from Bali I was tempted by a dish like this to keep the magic going… As my son is alergic to cashews however I subsituted the cashews with almonds instead- seems to have worked a treat! Great recipe Glenda! I found pandan leaves at the local Asian deli here in Perth in the freezer section- I note the following site gives all the different names for Padan leaves and is very interesting! I now realise I ate chicken wrapped in Pandam leaves whilst in Bali and didn’t know that is what it was!! Keep up the good work Glenda x

    • Hi Emily. I must admit, I didn’t look that hard for the Pandam leaves. I will look harder next time. Thanks for commenting and thanks for the link.

  2. I think your photography here is fine. Curries just aren’t the most photographic of foods. Besides, it’s all about the taste, in the end. I’ve not had curry with a cashew sauce but it does sound delicious, Glenda. I’m sure your friend enjoyed the dish. I would have. 🙂

  3. That looks great! How hot was it? (I’m a fan of spiced, rather spicy-hot foods.) Although I’m not to sure where to find a rampe leaf in central London…

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