Kuku Paka

4 servings



total time


3 garlic cloves

2 lemons, divided

2½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more

¼ tsp. Kashmiri chile powder

2–3 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 8 large)

1 medium onion

1 plum tomato

1–2 green Thai chiles

¼ cup cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

¼ tsp. ground coriander

¼ tsp. ground cumin

⅛ tsp. ground turmeric

1 13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk

¼ cup heavy cream

Basmati rice and/or crusty bread (for serving)


Finely grate 3 garlic cloves into a large bowl with a Microplane. Cut 1 lemon in half and squeeze juice through your hand or a fine-mesh sieve into bowl; discard seeds. Mix in 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt and ¼ tsp. Kashmiri chile powder. Add 2–3 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 8 large) and toss to evenly coat. Cover bowl and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the curry base. Coarsely chop 1 medium onion, 1 plum tomato, 1–2 green Thai chiles (depending on how spicy your chiles are and your heat tolerance), and ¼ cup cilantro leaves with tender stems. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend or process until smooth.

Heat broiler. Heat 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in a high-sided skillet or large pot over medium. Add ¼ tsp. ground coriander, ¼ tsp. ground cumin, and ⅛ tsp. ground turmeric. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in purée and add 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt. Stir to combine and cook, stirring occasionally, until raw onion smell subsides and curry is paste-like in consistency, 15–20 minutes.

Arrange chicken on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and broil until cooked through, charred in spots, and a thermometer inserted into the thickest parts registers 165°, 17–20 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, shake one 13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk to ensure coconut cream is incorporated, then add coconut milk to curry and stir well to combine. Curry should be pale yellow. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until warm and slightly thickened, 5–10 minutes.

Once chicken is finished, add chicken and any juices accumulated on baking sheet to curry and reduce heat to low; mix well to combine. Stirring constantly to prevent curry from breaking, dribble in ¼ cup heavy cream. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

Cut remaining 1 lemon into wedges. Serve kuku paka with basmati rice and/or some crusty bread and lemon wedges for squeezing over. Top with additional cilantro to taste.

4 servings



total time
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