Maunika Gowardhan's Goan Chicken Xacuti

Xacuti (say: shakooti) is a traditional curry that’s rich and full of flavour. Roast the coconut until it is golden; it gives the gravy its deep red colour. 


4 chicken legs (about 1kg)
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 tbsp vegetable oil
230g onion (about 1 large), thinly sliced
1 heaped tsp ground paprika
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3½ tbsp tamarind paste

120g fresh coconut pieces
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp coriander seeds
5cm cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
4 cloves
2 star anise
1 heaped tbsp poppy seeds
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped


1. Remove the skin from the chicken, then separate into drumsticks and thighs by cutting through the central joint. Rub the turmeric and a pinch of salt into the chicken pieces and set aside while you make the paste.

2. Heat a dry frying pan over a low heat and toast the coconut for 12-14 minutes, until it starts to brown; tip out and set aside. In the same pan, toast the chilli flakes, coriander seeds, cinnamon, peppercorns, cumin and fennel seeds, cloves and star anise for 5 minutes, stirring well. When it starts smelling fragrant, add the poppy seeds; toast for 3 minutes. Cool, then whizz with the coconut pieces, garlic and 3 tbsp water in a blender. Add another 3 tbsp water and whizz again to a thick, smooth paste. It might seem a little dry but you don’t want to add too much water.

3. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and add the onions. Fry over a medium heat for 12-15 minutes, until they soften and start to turn light brown. Add the xacuti paste and stir-fry for 5 minutes, making sure it doesn’t stick. Turn the heat up slightly; add the paprika and 50ml water, scraping the spices from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken and fry for 5 minutes, coating it in the paste.

4. Add another 300ml water, stir and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Add the nutmeg and tamarind paste and simmer, uncovered, for a final 7-8 minutes. Serve, scattered with fresh coriander, if liked.

This recipe appeared in the Waitrose Food magazine app. myWaitrose members can download the Waitrose Food app edition for FREE to their tablet and smartphone. Find out more.

  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Serves: 6

Nutritional Info

Typical values per serving:

Energy 1,765kJ
Fat 27.4g
Saturated Fat 10g
Carbohydrate 8.3g
Sugars 6.6g
Protein 35.9g
Salt 1.2g
Fibre 2.4g

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4 stars

Average user rating Based on 18 ratings

This recipe was first published in Thu Oct 01 14:19:46 BST 2015.