Kuku Paka

Kuku paka, an East African-Indian dish that’s traditionally made with charcoal-grilled in a spiced coconut milk sauce and served over rice, is comforting, sweet, creamy, and well-balanced. This version, which is adapted from my cookbook Let’s Eat, approximates the traditional curry base, but features broiled chicken so that you don’t have to grill when it’s raining or freezing or you just don’t want to. Any cut of chicken can be used: I like boneless thighs here for the sake of ease and flavor, but any mix of breasts, tenders, or drumsticks can be used, provided they’ve been cut into similar sizes. Because the chicken is cooked separately from the curry base, you also can substitute it with any hearty vegetable to make this dish suitable for a vegetarian diet. For a plant-based diet, skip the addition of heavy cream or substitute it with a creamy barista-style non-dairy milk or additional coconut milk. Jalapeños will work in place of the Thai chiles, though you’ll want to adjust the amount depending on your spice tolerance—my rule of thumb is one medium jalapeño for every two Thai chiles. And a pinch of cayenne pepper will work in place of the Kashmiri chile powder. —Zaynab Issa

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4–6 servings


garlic cloves


lemons, divided

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


tsp. Kashmiri chile powder


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


medium onion


plum tomato


green Thai chiles


cup cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving


Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil


tsp. ground coriander


tsp. ground cumin

tsp. ground turmeric


13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk


cup heavy cream

Basmati rice and/or crusty bread (for serving)

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