This recipe was published in Food and Wine magazine back in February 1999. Yes, you read that right, over 16 years ago, when I was only a teenager (in my heart, that is). But someone recently raved so much about it in a cooking forum that other members decided to make it, and next thing I knew, they were raving about it too. I had to join the party and try the recipe myself. However, I modified it a bit, incorporating some tips from our graduate student Aritri (born and raised in India so she knows a thing or two about curries). I also opted by making it in a pressure cooker. No need to run away screaming. If you don’t have one, I’ll share instructions to make it in a regular pan. I am nothing if not accommodating. You are very welcome.

Black Pepper Chicken Curry1
(adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely crushed black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 shallot, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced Serrano chile
1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup raw cashews, divided
juice from 1/2 lemon
fresh parsley, minced

In a bowl, combine the coriander with the cumin, peppercorns, turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add the chicken and rub with the spices to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, place 1/4 cup of cashews in a small food processor and process, not too fine. Reserve.

In a large deep nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil. Add the shallots and saute’ for a few minutes until translucent.  Add the chicken, ginger, Serrano chile and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is golden, about 8 minutes. No need to cook through.

Stir in 1/4 cup of the coconut milk, the water, and the processed cashews, then transfer to a pressure cooker and cook under pressure for 15 minutes. Quickly release the steam (or place the closed pan under running cold water in the sink), and when the pressure equalizes open the pan.  If using a normal pan, simply cover the pan and simmer until cooked to your liking (at least 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of cashews and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of coconut milk, the lemon juice and the fresh parsley to the chicken and simmer, stirring. Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with the cashews; serve immediately. 


to print the recipe, click here


Seems familiar? The same photo was in my previous post…  

Comments: After so many years of blogging, it’s hard not to repeat statements from previous posts. For those who follow my blog for a while it will be old news that I like to cook chicken thighs longer than most recipes specify. Super tender is what I shoot for. Exactly the same goes for pork ribs. Some people prefer to have a firmer texture in both types of meat, so if you are part of that team, reduce the cooking time.  For instance, in a pressure cooker, you could get by with 10 minutes, in a regular pan, 20 minutes (which is what Food and Wine magazine recommends in the original recipe).

Pressure cooking is fantastic for recipes such as curries, stews, soups, and chili (made one recently in 20 minutes that was absolutely spectacular). Until a couple of  months ago I made the mistake of keeping my pressure cooker in the basement, bringing it to the kitchen only when I needed to make a batch of black beans, or maybe cook some artichokes in a hurry (pressure cooker works wonders on artichokes).  Out of sight, out of mind. Not anymore. It is now sitting in our appliance rack and I am always finding ways to use it. It makes life so much easier, many recipes that are not feasible on a weeknight because they would take too long become a breeze to prepare.


This curry turned out wonderful! It is interesting how the humble black pepper offers a heat different from any other type.  Aritri also suggested that we add ground chili to the curry, but I was afraid it would be too hot for our taste, so I went without it. Keep her suggestion in mind if you make it, I think a little extra heat would not hurt the outcome. I hope you try this recipe, make sure to have some rice to fully enjoy the delicious sauce, or if you prefer to keep the carb content low, a cauli-rice  or a cauli-mash will work just fine…

ONE YEAR AGO: Feta-Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Thai-Style Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta

THREE YEARS AGO: Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO:  A Simple Appetizer (Baked Ricotta)

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sour Cream Sandwich Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Pasta with Zucchini Strands and Shrimp


    • I;ve been totally spoiled by my pressure cooker these days…. that chili in 20 minutes was hard to believe how good it tasted…

      I’ve been using it so much and praising it SO MUCH…. Phil is getting jealous… 😉


  1. Was just departing for greener pastures when the chicken dish with THAT name landed in the box: five enticing minutes later methinks I know the recipe by heart, can’t wait to make it, LOVE the extra pepper, like the addition of the cashews, shall add the extra chill powder and have it ready in a remarkably short time even in an ordinary pan . . .


  2. I don’t have a pressure cooker (or a basement actually, probably because I don’t live in tornado country), but I just gave away an old slow cooker to clear a space for some sort of new kitchen gadget. Pressure cooker or waffle iron? You are kind of swaying me toward the pressure cooker camp! Your dish looks amazing!


  3. No pressure cooker but it seems easy enough to make without it. I particularly enjoy the use of ground nuts as a thickener in the curry. And I’d definitely serve this over rice to absorb all that delicious coconut milk based sauce.


  4. We love all things curry and I cook with chicken thighs more than any other meat, so this recipe is right up my street! I don’t have any cashews on hand, except the few that are part of a mixed nuts jar, so I might try this either with the mixed nuts or just peanuts. Thanks for the recipe, Sally, and for this amazing blog in general!


    • HI, Paula! I think you can use any type of nuts in this recipe – by the way, are you traveling our way this month? we leave for our trip on the 18th but will be here until then….


  5. Never owned a pressure cooker…just one more thing I don’t have the room for in my little kitchen. Oh well…I’ve managed all these years without it so will have to soldier on to make this curry. As we said earlier, nothing like a really good curry! Oxtail curry up next?? Oops…don’t think so!


  6. I love my pressure cooker; I have been addicted to it since a friend gave it as a gift cooker (click here ). I think I ran out of cashews, can I use a different type of nut or skip it altogether? Does it contribute to the flavor or just added for texture? Thanks!


  7. My mother and I were just discussing the differences in white pepper vs black pepper and the heat of black pepper was one of the things she pointed out. I’ll have to make this curry for her. Thanks for the non pressure cooker instructions.


  8. We would love this dish! And I very much appreciate chicken thighs cooked longer. So tender and juicy that way. Thank you for accommodating us non pressure cooker owners.😉 And aren’t you still a teenager at heart?! Xx


  9. I love curries, and I am glad you included/explained your modifications – always tweaking for the best! Black pepper is wonderful, and this is on my to-do list for sure. Can you believe I don’t own a pressure cooker??


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