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Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk and Zucchini

September 17, 2019
bowl of chicken curry with coconut milk and zucchini with green napkin and lime slices on cutting board

An easy coconut curry is one of my favorite go-to recipes. When you have a great curry powder (I love this one from Penzey’s spices), you can mix it with coconut milk and a bit of lime juice and cook just about anything. Vegetables, seafood, chicken, pork, tofu—all are delicious in a coconut curry sauce. And, coconut curry can be made year-round, using whatever kind of vegetables are in season. In winter, I love to cook potatoes or winter squash in curry. At the beginning of fall though, zucchini is a great option. When thinly sliced or zoodled, zucchini soaks up the sauce in this Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk and Zucchini recipe, so you get great flavor in every bite. 

This recipe does include a bit of chopping time, because you want to slice your zucchini quite thinly. But, if you have a vegetable spiralizer, zucchinis take very little time to spiralize. You can even find already spiralized zucchini prepackaged at the grocery store these days. Feel free to take that shortcut if you want to get dinner on the table in a hurry. And, one of the big advantages of zoodling or slicing your zucchini thinly is that it cooks quickly. No need to wait for big potato chunks to become tender—both the thin chicken slices and zucchini slices cook in just a few minutes. 

How do I make Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk and Zucchini?

First, you’ll want to prep all of your ingredients. Cut each zucchini lengthwise into thin planks (about 5-6 per zucchini). Then cut each plank in half crosswise, and slice into matchsticks. Alternatively, you can use a spiralizer to turn your zucchini into zoodles. Chop the onion half into small 1/4-inch pieces. Halve the lime, and cut one of the halves into wedges. Slice the chicken breasts thinly.   

ingredients for chicken curry: chicken, zucchini, chicken broth, coconut milk, onion, lime, curry powder

Heat 1 T. oil in a 12-inch nonstick pan or wok. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper and add to hot pan. Stir into a single layer, and cook over medium-high heat until chicken is lightly browned and cooked through, about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan.

browned chicken in nonstick skillet

To cook zucchini, heat butter in same pan, then add zucchini. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes, until zucchini is tender. (Zoodles and very thin matchsticks may cook faster.) Remove from pan.

Browned zucchini in nonstick skillet

Heat 1 T. oil in pan, then add chopped onions. Add curry powder and 1/2 t. salt and stir for 1 minute, then add chicken broth and coconut milk. Cook for 6 minutes, until reduced slightly. Add chicken and zucchini back to cream sauce and simmer until heated through. Add juice from the lime half and stir. Serve with lime wedges. 

What should I serve with this chicken curry recipe?

You’ll want to pair this dish with something that can soak up the creamy sauce. Jasmine rice is a classic match for curry, but I also love this recipe on a bed of quinoa or plain couscous. Other grains like farro and barley would work as well, or pearl couscous. It’s not remotely authentic to a curry recipe, but I have happily used baguette slices to mop up the leftover sauce and never regretted it. 

Can you freeze Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk?

Yes, but. You can freeze this chicken curry recipe, but coconut milk tends to separate when frozen and then thawed. If you freeze this dish, you may find that the texture is a little grainy when it is thawed and reheated because of the coconut milk. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend this as a great freezer meal, though it would probably still taste good if you tried it. In our house, any leftovers are easily eaten within the next 24 hours!

What can I do with leftover coconut milk? 

If you have coconut milk leftover from a recipe, there are plenty of ways to put it to good use. You can of course make more curry with it—try mixing coconut milk with red or green curry paste instead of curry powder, or mixing it with miso. You can also use it to loosen up an asian peanut butter sauce for satay or peanut noodles. Coconut milk is great in soup as well, or try it in a smoothie for a non-dairy version. I think my favorite use for leftover coconut milk is just to cook rice though—replace water with however much leftover coconut milk you have when heating liquid for rice. Delicious! 

Do you have to use coconut milk in curry?

You don’t have to use coconut milk for your curry dishes, though I do love its flavor and the creaminess it adds to the sauce. It also serves to cut the heat of the curry powder or paste that you may be using. But you can replace coconut milk with heavy cream or even with yogurt or creme fraiche. If you have coconut cream and would like to use that instead, just dilute it with a bit of water. And, of course, many traditional curry dishes have no coconut milk or dairy milk at all. 

What vegetables go well with curry?

All sorts of vegetables are delicious in a curry sauce, so you can make curry year-round with the vegetables you have accessible. Some of my favorite ingredients to use are: potatoes, cauliflower, peas, mushrooms, onions, and sweet peppers. Broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes are also good choices. If you are going to use multiple vegetables, keep in mind how long each takes to cook. You may want to cook them separately if they have very different cooking times, or consider chopping vegetables with long cook times into smaller pieces so that they cook faster. 

If you like this recipe, you may want to check out some of my other great dinner recipes, like my Easy Chicken Parmesan Meatballs, my Greek Chicken Kabobs with Yogurt Sauce, and my Creamy Orzo Chicken with Red Peppers and Mushrooms. If you’re still looking for other ways to use your zucchini, try my Easy Zucchini Gratin or Foil Packet Tilapia with Zucchini, Lemon, and Butter.

chicken curry with coconut milk and zucchini served with white rice in bowl with napkin and lime slices on the side
Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk and Zucchini

Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk and Zucchini

Yield: Serve 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This chicken curry with coconut milk recipe features chicken breast slices and zucchini matchsticks sautéed in an easy coconut curry sauce with lime.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini, about 1 lb.
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 lime
  • 1 1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 T. canola oil, divided
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 t. curry powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup coconut milk, preferably full-fat

Instructions

    1. Cut each zucchini lengthwise into thin planks (about 5-6 per zucchini). Then cut each plank in half crosswise, and slice into matchsticks. Alternatively, you can use a spiralizer to turn your zucchini into zoodles.
    2. Chop the onion half into small 1/4-inch pieces.
    3. Halve the lime, and cut one of the halves into wedges.
    4. Slice the chicken breasts thinly.
    5. Heat 1 T. oil in a 12-inch nonstick pan or wok.
    6. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper and add to hot pan. Stir into a single layer, and cook over medium-high heat until chicken is lightly browned and cooked through, about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan.
    7. To cook zucchini, heat butter in same pan, then add zucchini. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes, until zucchini is tender. (Zoodles and very thin matchsticks may cook faster.) Remove from pan.
    8. Heat 1 T. oil in pan, then add chopped onions.
    9. Add curry powder and 1/2 t. salt and stir for 1 minute, then add chicken broth and coconut milk.
    10. Cook for 6 minutes, until reduced slightly.
    11. Add chicken and zucchini back to cream sauce and simmer until heated through.
    12. Add juice from the lime half and stir. Serve with lime wedges.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 471 Total Fat: 28g Saturated Fat: 15g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 128mg Sodium: 448mg Carbohydrates: 9g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 3g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 48g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.


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