Easy Coconut Chicken Curry
This cleaned-up version of an Indian favorite is perfect for weeknight dinners when you’re crunched for time.
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One of the most disturbing revelations of Dr. David Kessler’s excellent book, The End of Overeating, was how much added sugar, salt, fat, and other unsavory ingredients can be found in restaurant food—even in stuff you’d never expect, like the breaded coatings for fried chicken. This is done purposefully to make you crave the food put in front of you—after all, restaurants are in business to sell more (not less) food!
All of that is a really good argument for eating and cooking at home. The great food writer and consumer advocate Michael Pollan recently commented that eating at home is the next big food revolution because when you cook at home, it’s a foregone conclusion that you will use the best ingredients you can get and you won’t be adding a host of chemicals to flavor and preserve them. This simplified version of a classic chicken curry is the perfect example. It cuts out all the garbage—especially if you make your own mayonnaise without sacrificing the flavor. And you can up the nutritional value even more by choosing free-range chicken. Just look for labels that say “no hormones,” or “antibiotic free”—there’s nothing “comforting” about drugs in your comfort food!
Featured Ingredient: Homemade Mayonnaise
Would you be surprised if I told you that homemade mayonnaise is so good for you, it’s almost a “health food”? Well, give me a minute, and maybe I can convince you that it’s true.
Mayo is one of the most demonized foods in the world, considered a symbol of all that is “wrong” in the American diet, but only for one reason—it’s relatively high in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol.
But what if cholesterol and dietary fat—even saturated fat—weren’t the cause of heart disease after all? That’s the premise of the revised edition of The Great Cholesterol Myth that cardiologist Steven Sinatra, MD, and I just published. In it, we cite extensive research blowing the lid off the long-held myth that saturated fat or dietary cholesterol cause (or even predict) heart disease. And we’re talking about published, peer-reviewed studies in major journals.
That means that there’s really no reason not to eat eggs complete with the yolks—they’re actually one of nature’s most perfect foods. And there’s also no reason to avoid light olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, almond oil, or other healthy oils. And eggs and oil form the base of mayonnaise.
The third ingredient in homemade mayo is vinegar, which has been shown in studies to help support healthy blood sugar levels. The rest of the ingredients are healthy spices like mustard—loaded with antioxidants—and lemon juice, another source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
As my grandmother used to say, “What’s not to like?” Of course, the trick here to making mayo a health food is to prepare it yourself. I make zero health claims for store-bought mayo, which often uses “fat-free” ingredients, the cheapest and most inflammatory oils, and many more chemicals and preservatives than you need.
But if you make it yourself—with whole eggs and high-quality cold-pressed oils—you’ll be golden. And best of all, there are plenty of recipes available online, and whipping up a quick batch takes less than 10 minutes, so it couldn’t be easier!
Notes from the Clean Food Coach:
This is a terrific dish for batch cooking. Consider doubling up the recipe and making it on Sunday for grab-and-go chicken all week. Chop up cold leftovers with a little mayo and lemon juice for a delicious chicken salad, or reheat whole pieces in a toaster oven for a quick warm and tasty meal. The toaster oven, unlike the microwave, will keep the skin crisp.
- 3 Tbs. coconut oil, melted
- 2 Tbs. mayonnaise
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice
- 2 tsp. high quality curry powder (we like Penzeys Sweet Curry powder)
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- ¾ tsp. sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper or cayenne pepper, to taste
- 2 lbs. chicken legs or thighs, skin-on, bone-in
- Preheat oven to 400°F. In small bowl, combine coconut oil, mayonnaise, lemon juice, curry powder, ginger, salt, and pepper, and whisk to form a smooth sauce.
- Rinse chicken, pat dry, and arrange in roasting pan. Generously brush tops and sides of each piece with sauce. Roast until golden brown and cooked through, about 40 minutes.
- Calories 510
- Carbohydrate Content 2 g
- Cholesterol Content 210 mg
- Fat Content 36 g
- Fiber Content 1 g
- Protein Content 41 g
- Saturated Fat Content 15 g
- Sodium Content 720 mg
- Sugar Content 0 g