20 Minute Coconut Lime Chicken Curry in a skillet with a wooden spoon.

Let’s face it. Most of the time when it comes to cooking, effort yields reward. A little technique, a couple extra steps, and you have the difference between pudding and Crème brûlée.

But sometimes, you’ll find these magical, victorious recipes. I call them low-effort, high-reward recipes.

These are the recipes we turn to when we’re tired and hungry. These recipes are for light days, healthy days. For regular days, and frantic days.

This 20 Minute Coconut Lime Chicken Curry is one of those recipes.

I make it on those nights when even chopping an onion is too much work, when 30 minutes seem too long to spend in the kitchen.

Close up of Coconut Lime Chicken Curry in a skillet with a wooden spoon.

A Taste of Thailand

A year ago at this time, I found myself in a small village outside the misty city of Chiang Mai.

We were taking a cooking class, one that immersed us in the process of Thai cooking.

Produce Market in Thailand

At the market, we witnessed steel machines churn out fresh coconut milk, which locals carried home in knotted plastic bags. We selected the right kind of rice and chilies and then cooked one dish after another in the open air outside our teacher’s home.

A rice field surrounded the eating area, and I could see nothing but green land and trees, smell nothing but fresh air with a hint of lemongrass and sweet tamarind.

We practically inhaled the full course meal. We couldn’t believe we’d made it all with our own hands – the relentlessly spicy yet irresistible papaya salad, Tom Kha Gai almost literally bursting with flavor, and Pad Thai that revealed how Pad Thai should have tasted all along.

As I mourned over my last bite of mango sticky rice, watching the sunset, I felt joy. Also, a liiittle stress because my then-8-month old was getting impatient. But mostly, it was pure joy.

Papaya Salad in a clear glass dish

Tips to make 20 Minute Coconut Lime Chicken Curry

Now that I’ve reveled in memories of Thailand, here are a couple things I learned relating to this 20 Minute Coconut Lime Chicken Curry:

  1. Many Thai dishes come together within minutes. The flavors are dependent on how fresh and wholesome the ingredients are.
  2. Speaking of wholesome ingredients, since we can’t get our hands on freshly extracted bagged coconut milk, try to use high-quality canned coconut milk. The fewer ingredients listed on the can, the better.

I learned that if the freshest of ingredients are used, we can make a curry that is incredibly quick and easy, yet flavorful and healthy.

I included an optional step to marinate the chicken in baking soda prior to cooking it, the one I used in my Cashew Chicken recipe. It gives the chicken a silky, smooth texture.

P.S. If you want another Pakistani-inspired coconut chicken curry, or are willing to work a little harder (as in, you’re willing to chop an onion), try my Coconut Chicken Curry with potatoes.

coconut lime chicken curry-4341
5 (9 ratings)

20 Minute Coconut Lime Chicken Curry

This 20-minute Coconut Lime Chicken Curry is incredibly quick and easy, yet flavorful and healthy.

Ingredients 

To Marinate (Optional)

  • 1 tsp baking soda

For the Curry

  • 2 tbsp regular or refined coconut oil
  • 1 green chili pepper, slit in half and deseeded
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ inch piece ginger, crushed
  • 1 chicken breast or tenders, about 400 grams, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • scant 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper powder
  • generous pinch red chili powder or cayenne
  • 1 13.5-14 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • salt, to taste (be on the generous side)
  • Zest of 1 medium lime
  • Juice of 1 medium lime, or more to taste
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

Instructions 

  • (Optional Step) Place the chicken in a strainer or colander and sprinkle it with baking soda. Mix well and let this mixture marinate for about 20 minutes. Rinse the chicken thoroughly, ensuring it’s completely free of any baking soda. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the slit green chili pepper and sauté for about a minute. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until the raw smell disappears, or about 20-30 seconds. 
  • Raise the heat to medium-high and add the chicken, spices and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until it is half cooked or begins to brown, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add the coconut milk and let it come to a simmer. Cover and let this cook for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Turn off the heat and add the lime zest and juice. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve over white or brown rice. Enjoy!
Calories: 135kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 515mg, Potassium: 139mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 18IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 4mg, Iron: 1mg