Chicken with Coconut (Kuku Paka) by Madhur Jaffrey

I had quite a day yesterday. I do not remember myself being so angry for a quite a long time. The day started quite all right with me and Tanya traveling to a local market somewhere in Lekki. The road is nice and smooth with a toll when we enter, but there is one thing that always strikes me as odd. We have to pay once when we enter the toll and on the way back. The market we were going to is located pass the second toll (which is not working yet, but will be working soon enough). It will require double payment as well!

Anyway, we went to find the missing parts for the upcoming supper club inaugural dinner, such as plates and little pieces. I didn’t get plates, but found a nice nest of bowls for cooking and Tanya got seduced with a nest of two serving plates for all sorts of nice purposes. We could proudly convince ourselves that it was not a complete waste of time. Eventually I got home and to a hungry family.

I had some chicken defrosted and was going to cook a Myanmar Curry, which requires lemon grass. I had it, I bought the lemon grass and brought it from UK. When I opened the spice shelf – it was gone. All brand new jars, gone. I didn’t use them and neither anyone else could. The only person I could possibly ask was my steward, whose memory (for unknown reasons) had a complete blackout. I was furious, I do not think I was so badly upset when I lost my diamond ring. Anyway, it took a lot of time to calm down and even now this bothers me. Not the fact that some spices are missing, but that I do not have a control other my kitchen. I cannot bring myself around to post the Myanmar recipe today, as I am still upset. So, instead, I will post my husband’s favorite Kenyan recipe.

This curry is a Kenyan-Indian creation, lets consider it as Kenyan curry. It combines the wonderful taste of coconut and indian spices. Thanks to Madhur Jaffrey for discovering and sharing this recipe in her book.

Recipe: Chicken with Coconut (Kuku Paka) by Madhur Jaffrey

Summary: You can use chicken breasts or whole chicken cut up into serving pieces. Please note that you will need to marinate chicken for 1 1/2 – 3 hours.


For marinade

  • 1.45-1.5 kg chicken, skinned and cut into serving pieces or 700 gr of chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp of peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed to a pulp
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

For the sauce

  • 180 gr tomatoes, chopped
  • 140 gr onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated coconut, or grated frozen, or desiccated
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp corn or peanut oil
  • 400 ml can of coconut milk, well shaken
  • 4 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon juice


  1. Start from the marinade. Put the chicken in a bowl, mix in the marinade ingredients and rub the all over the chicken pieces. Cover and set aside for 1 1/2 – 3 hours, refrigerating if necessary.
  2. Make the sauce by putting the tomatoes, onions, chillies, coconut, salt and cumin into a blender. Blend until you have a paste.
  3. Pour the oil into a wide non-stick pan and see over a medium-high heat. Add the paste from the blender straight away. Stir, occasionally at first, then more frequently later, then it thickens, for about 8 minutes or until the paste is lightly fried and no longer watery.
  4. Add the chicken and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir for another minute. Cover loosely with a lid and allow to cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring now and then. At the end of this period chicken should be lightly browned all over.
  5. Add the coconut milk and 50 ml water. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently on a low heat for another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat add the coriander leaves and lemon juice. Stir to mix
  6. Serve with rice.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s) excluding marinating time

Cooking time: 40-50 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4

Copyright ©
Recipe by Madhur Jaffrey

3 thoughts on “Chicken with Coconut (Kuku Paka) by Madhur Jaffrey

  1. I love ur recipes BUT not ur comments.
    my dear if ur so unhappy with the roads and service in Nigeria, pls go back to ur country. stop insulting us. Remember, Nigeria is still a 3rd World country.

    Thank you

    • Diane, take a chill pill. Dilovely did not insult anyone or anything. She merely used adjectives to describe less than perfect circumstances. If you dont like HER comments or opinion, please the internet is free. There are many other pages for you to discover. I would suggest refraining from leaving negative comments. It does nothing for you.