Kolhapuri Chili Chicken with Coconut and Cashew (Pandhra Rassa)

This “white chicken curry” is a specialty from the city of Kolhapur in the state of Maharashtra. The region is known for their incredibly hot meat and fish curries. With the killer hot spiciness toned way down, this recipe remains a good example of the cooking of the region. It is served with white rice and/or a soft rice flour roti-like bread called bhakris.

Pandhra Rassa - ChilI Chicken with Coconut and Cashew

Pandhra Rassa – ChilI Chicken with Coconut and Cashew

This dish is a very subtle and nowhere near as hot as most of the foods from Kolhapur. Eliminate the red chili seeds from the recipe if children are involved. The addition of cashew nuts and raisins offset the soft sauce and hot chilies. Serve with white rice.
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Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: My Hungry Traveler


  • Food Processor or blender
  • Large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot
  • Small bowl
  • Spice grinder


  • lb Chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • lb Chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
  • 1 cup Dried shredded dried unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tsp Each: cumin seeds, poppy seeds, coriander seeds, cayenne pepper, cardamom seeds (Sub: Use ground version of spices and skip grinding and dry frying)
  • 8 cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsp Ginger root, peeled and diced
  • ¾ cup Water
  • 3 tbsp Ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 3 dried Red chile de arbol chilies
  • 4 medium Jalapeno chiles, chopped and seeded
  • 2 tbsp Cashew nuts
  • 2 tbsp Golden raisins
  • 2 medium Red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup Full fat yogurt
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ cup Canned coconut milk



  • Place coconut shreds in a food processor and process until almost a powder. Remove to a small bowl and set aside. Process ginger and garlic into a paste. Chop chicken into 1½-inch chunks and put chicken and paste mixture into a plastic freezer bag. Massage garlic-ginger paste into chicken. Let marinate 1 hour.
    In a spice grinder, finely grind the cumin, poppy, coriander, cayenne, and cardamom. Remove to the bowl with the coconut powder and mix in water to make a wet paste. This is the masala paste.
    Place onions into the food processor and pulse a few times until they become finely chopped pieces. Remove blade and leave onions in food processor bowl.

Start Cooking Chicken

  • In the large pot, heat 1 tbsp ghee over medium-high heat. Add cinnamon, dry and fresh chilies, cashew nuts, and raisins. Cook, stirring, until nuts become golden brown, 2-3 minutes.
    Stir in the chicken and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook 20 minutes until the chicken is half done. Put lid aside and remove chicken from the pot to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

Finish the Dish

  • Raise heat to medium-high. Add 2 tbsp ghee and pour in the chopped onions. Cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add masala paste and cook 3 more minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in the yogurt. Salt to taste. Stir for 2 minutes keeping the yogurt moving. Return chicken to the pot and pour in coconut milk. Simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through and tender.
    When finished cooking, bring pot almost to a boil, stir well, and turn the heat off. Put chicken and sauce into a serving bowl and serve with rice and roti.


Calories: 651kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 206mg | Sodium: 245mg | Potassium: 967mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 253IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 3mg

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