Did y’all ever watch the painter Bob Ross on PBS back in the day? He was so calming and peaceful. I was always mesmerized by his “happy little trees.” If he didn’t like how a stroke hit the canvas, he wouldn’t treat it as a mistake. He wouldn’t scrap the painting. He would just turn it into something that could still work for the masterpiece. That’s how I like to approach my cooking. Like each recipe is a journey full of choices and directions to go in. That’s kind of how I landed on this flavorful Coconut Chili Chicken Curry. It’s a saucy, tangy, sweet, and spicy dish that I had originally imagined as something else, but I ended up turning it into a “happy little tree”…and I couldn’t be happier with the final dish.
Some of the ingredients in this Coconut Chili Chicken Curry might not be things you regularly stock in your pantry. The sesame chili oil is usually something I get at my local international store or on Amazon. This oil is so flavorful and has a rich nuttiness to it. If you can’t get this, you can easily heat a neutral cooking oil and add in dried red chili flakes. Liquid Smoke is another one of my favorite ingredients. I use the Colgin brand which is available on Amazon. As Bob Ross said, “this is your world, make it your own!”
Like this recipe? You might also enjoy my Shrimp & Veggie Rice Noodles, Kerala-Style Mutta (Egg) Curry, or Spicy Orange Sesame Beef recipes. If you have any questions when making this recipe reach out to me @thefamiliarkitchen on instagram. I’d LOVE to see how it turns out for you and answer any questions you might have!
- Boneless Chicken Breast, 2-3lbs
- Sesame Chili Oil, 2 tbsp
- Red Onions, 1, sliced wide
- Tomato Paste, 1/4 cup
- Thick Coconut Milk, 1 cup
- Salt, 1-2 tsp (to taste)
- Coriander Seeds, 1/4 tsp, coarsely ground
- Chives, 1/4 cup
- Cilantro, 1/2 cup chopped
- Sesame Seeds, 2 tsp
- Sesame Chili Oil, 2 tbsp
- Green Apples, 2, peeled and grated
- Red Onions, 2, quartered
- Green Chili Peppers, 2-3, diced
- Garlic Cloves, 10, roughly chopped
- Ginger, 2”, roughly chopped
- Brown Sugar, 2 tbsp
- Soy Sauce, 1/4 cup
- Hickory Liquid Smoke, 1/4 tsp (optional)
- Black Peppercorns, 1/4 tsp
Prep the chicken.
Take the chicken breasts and cut against the grain into very thin, bite-sized slices. Set this aside in your prep bowl (or a bowl larger enough to hold the marinade)
Make the marinade.
To make the marinade, heat a wide skillet on high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the sesame chili oil along with all of the ingredients under the "marinade" section. Saute just until the ingredients soften (about 4-5 minutes). Let this cool.
Add the cooled ingredients to a blender and puree until very smooth. Add a little water if you need to encourage the ingredients to blend more smoothly.
Now pour the marinade over the chicken, mix, and refrigerate covered for an hour or overnight.
Cook the curry.
Heat up your wide skillet or wok on high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the sesame chili oil. Now add the red onions and saute until soft and lightly golden.
Add the marinated chicken. Continue to keep the chicken moving in the pan so the heat reduces the moisture from the marinade.
Once the marinade is about halfway reduced, cover the pan for about 3-4 minutes to bring some natural moisture back to the pan.
Now add in the tomato paste and coconut milk and reduce the heat to medium low. Once the coconut milk boils once, turn off the heat and add in the salt and remaining ingredients.