THAI COOKING: This week's recipe from Vicki Taylor is a chicken coconut curry.
THAI COOKING: This week's recipe from Vicki Taylor is a chicken coconut curry.

Spice up your life with perfectly balanced chicken curry

The taste of tamarind is like sweet and sour. It's used in Indian and South-East Asian cooking, especially in Thai food. Think curries, traditional dishes and chutneys.

What tamarind does, other than add a sour note to dishes, is balance flavour. For example, when you are making, say, a Thai curry, it is important to get the four main elements right: hot, sweet, salty and sour.

Chicken curry with tamarind

Serves 6


12 boneless and skinless chicken thigh fillets


juice of 2 limes


½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper


1 teaspoon ground turmeric


3 tablespoons vegetable oil


2 tablespoons tamarind pulp


400ml coconut milk


160ml can of coconut cream


½ cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped


Salt for seasoning


Curry sauce


3 tablespoons vegetable oil


2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds


16 dried curry leaves


4 onions, finely sliced


5 garlic cloves, crushed


3 cm square piece ginger, grated or finely shredded


2 teaspoons paprika


1 tablespoon raw sugar


800g of canned chopped tomatoes


350ml reduced-salt chicken stock



Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan-forced.

Marinade chicken for one hour in a large non-metallic bowl (using gloves) with lime juice, pepper and turmeric. Mix well.

For the sauce, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large fry pan, add mustard seeds and fry until they start to pop.

Add in onions and cook covered, over a low heat, for 10-15 minutes until very soft, stirring often. Don't burn.

Remove lid, turn heat up, add the garlic and ginger, and fry for about a minute. Add paprika and dried curry leaves, stir and cook for about another 30 seconds.

Add in the tomatoes, reduced-salt chicken stock and palm sugar. Cook, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes until the sauce has reduced by about a third. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in another frying pan and brown chicken in batches until they have some colour. You may need a little extra oil.

Remove from the frypan and place into an ovenproof casserole dish and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cooked.

Meanwhile, bring the curry sauce back to a simmer. Stir in the tamarind pulp, coconut milk and half the coconut cream.

Season with salt. Taste the flavour, and balance by adding more sugar, tamarind or salt as necessary.

Remove the chicken from the oven and pour the sauce over it. Then drizzle with the remaining coconut cream and sprinkle fresh coriander leaves on top. Serve with rice.

Visit Vicki at Red Hot Chilli Pepper, 9/65 Bulcock St, Caloundra

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