Chicken Stew with coconut milk

Dec. 12, 2009, 12:12 p.m. | by Adriano Petrich | Categories: Brazil chicken easy

Chicken Stew with coconut milk


Chicken, 3/5 kg ( 1 + 1/3 lb ) cubed

Olive oil, 3 tbsp

Leeks, 1 stalk, cubed

Hot Peppers, 1 finely chopped

Limes or Lemons, 2 zests and juice

Coconut Milk, 200 ml ( 4/5 cup )

Water, 200 ml ( 4/5 cup )

Hot sauce, 2 dashes (optional)

Materials and Methods

The mystery

Chicken in Coconut milk is a very traditional dish here.

Ok so far?

So very traditional that there even used to be a site called chicken-with-coconut-milk (

The problem is that it is not Thai(not tom ka ga). We actually didn’t get that much Thai influence here. Only in the last 5 years or so that Thai restaurants are blooming.

Where does it come from?

Africa! And from there we did get a lot of influence. Probably from the Ivory Coast version, but it exists all across Africa and South Asia.

Truth to tell, it is not a very difficult paring to “discover”. Even more so if you have chicken living under coconut trees.

Guess what? Again I’m substituting onions for leeks (in season, I like them, yadayadayada..)

Building flavor

It is a stew, not a typical one but still a stew.

The only time that you will have caramelizing action and the flavors it develops is in the initial sautéing.

Sauté is done on high heat and some oil. In this dish I don’t want the leeks(or onions) to caramelize, only the chicken.

So add some oil to the pan and set to high heat. Normally I work in batches, a hand full of chicken pieces at a time.. Careful not to crowd the pan and get it all golden brown and reserve..

This time I was tired and the pan was large so it was an all in. But with rules: no poking or stirring until the bottom side had caramelized (about 3 minutes).

Then stir and leave about 3 more minutes to brown the other side, and repeat once more.

Other vegetables comes to the party

After the chicken pieces have obtained the golden brown and delicious state (although raw inside yet) lower the heat to medium and add the leeks, pepper, lime zest.

Let it wilt for a couple of minutes then add the lime juice, coconut milk and the water

Slow cook until most of the water is gone and the chicken is ready. (mine took about 25 minutes)

Not Thai

So we Brazilians did not get our chicken stewed on coconut milk from Indonesia or Thailand. We didn’t even get lots of their immigrants until now.

Yet it doesn’t mean we cannot take advantage of their knowhow: so I cooked a batch of basmati rice to go with it.

This is a very easy dish that is kind of health food for the soul.

It is the first dish that I’ve ever cooked in industrial quantities: 50 foreigners that until that time had never ever tried Brazilian food. They loved it.


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