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Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice

“Mom's chicken curry is outstanding. She learned how to make it from her own mother in Sri Lanka. My recipe includes coconut rice made right in the same pot." -- Samantha Seneviratne, Food editor

  • prep: 25 mins
    total time: 50 mins
  • servings: 8
Photography: Johnny Miller




  • 1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger (from a 3-inch piece)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened light coconut milk
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving

Cook's Note

Chicken Prep
For tips on cutting up a chicken, visit our how-to. If you prefer all white or dark meat, substitute bone-in chicken breasts or chicken thighs.


  1. Step 1

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lower third. Toss chicken with curry powder, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat 2 teaspoons oil over high. In batches, cook chicken until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes total. Transfer to a large plate.

  2. Step 2

    Reduce heat to medium and add 1 teaspoon each salt and oil, garlic, ginger, and onion. Cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, until onion is translucent, 6 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 minute. Add rice, coconut milk, and 2 cups water; stir to combine and bring to a boil. Arrange chicken in pot, skin side up, cover, and transfer to oven. Bake until chicken is cooked through and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Everyday Food, May 2012



Reviews (15)

  • 5 May, 2014

    I made this last night and after 20 minutes the rice was crunchy and there wasn't enough liquid so I added another 2 cups of water and brought it to a boil and then put it back in the oven for 15 minutes more, it still wasn't done and the internal temperature on the chicken was 130 so I cooked it for 1 hour total and it was just right and the chicken was still moist and the rice was cooked. The rice is delicious, sweeter than I anticipated. Love Sara Carey!!

  • 23 Apr, 2014

    I tried this meal last night, and it was very flavorful! I did change the recipe though. Made 2 cups of fresh coconut milk, added 1 cup more of rice, 4 more cups of water, 4 cups of homemade chicken stock, and extra cayenne and curry. Followed directions but chicken and rice were not done in 20 mins, so I added 15 more mins, still wasn't done. That's when I brought it back to a boil on the stove top and then let it simmer for about 40 mins. WOW, it was super moist and delicious.

  • 10 Apr, 2014

    20 minutes in the oven? More like 50 minutes. :-(

  • 31 Mar, 2014

    I forgot to mention in my earlier review, that when it was coming to boil on stove, the rice started cooking. So, after reading another review on the dryness, I checked it after 8 minutes and took it out after 9 minutes. I added 1/2 cup warm water, as in risotto, and it resolves the impending dryness. I made a fresh batch of curry powder so it was nice and spicy!! Loved it!

  • 31 Mar, 2014

    Just made this tonight. EXCELLENT dish!! Chicken was so very tasty!

  • 15 Jan, 2014

    I've made this with whole chicken pieces and thighs and loved it both ways, though between the chicken skin and the prescribed amount of fats like oil, it came out very rich the first time, almost a bit greasy. The second time I used less oil and it was perfect. Great flavors (don't chintz on the seasoning/salting for full flavor). Be sure to use white rice and plenty of liquid or it will dry out. Terrific one-pot winter dish.

  • 4 Oct, 2013

    Am wondering if the recipe wanted 2 cups cooked rice. I used 2 cups uncooked and it was VERY dry. Not as spicy as I expected either.

  • 9 Jul, 2013

    Great recipe! LOVE IT!!! I was upset that your print feature printed the recipe on two separate pages instead of just one. I like my recipes on one page...much easier to read and follow. Solution to this would be to remove the personal testimonial from your Food Editor on the print version only. Just a sugestion.


  • 3 May, 2013

    This recipe is very good and tasty. I wasn't very sure about the coconut, since my kids don't like coconut. But they both ate everything with out a word. Would make this again. yum

  • 28 Apr, 2013

    Like the rest, the house smelled awesome! Made this for my hubby and he loved the diversity (we live in Italy and Thai dishes are rare)! If you don't like spicy/hot, simply reduce the cayenne pepper to 1/8tsp. I used only 6pcs of chicken thighs- bone in and it was fabulous! This is a keeper!

  • 8 Apr, 2013

    this was fabulous!!! the aroma was awesome and the flavors were spot on!! the heat level was perfect and delightful!! my husband and i can't wait to eat the leftovers!!

  • 1 Jul, 2012

    Wow the house smells awesome! Used HOT CURRY Powder from Penzey along with the cayenne. Also used BROWN basmati rice which may be a problem as it takes much, much longer to cook than the white. I suspect the consistancy of the chicken will change but not the taste! Still waiting but the smell is divine!

  • 21 Jun, 2012

    OH MY GOD! THis is amazing! i made this twice this week! it is the best chicken dish of the year! my husband and i can't get enough of it! the only difference is i did mine over the stove instead of the oven (too hot out). it was SO SO SO GOOD! thank you for this recipe!!

  • 17 May, 2012

    This recipe is easy and awesome! I didn't have basmati rice (substituted regular rice), and I used regular coconut milk. It was the ultimate comfort food. My husband is not crazy about curry, but loved this.

  • 17 May, 2012

    This recipe is easy and awesome! I didn't have basmati rice (substituted regular rice), and I used regular coconut milk. It was the ultimate comfort food. My husband is not crazy about curry, but loved this.