30 Minute Duck Leg Xacuti Curry Recipe

Curries are a firm favourite in our house. We have worked our way through a host of celebrity chef’s cook books like Rick Stein’s Asia and India, Anjum Anand Indian cookery and also Atul Kochhar’s Books plus a few more. We haven’t had a bad one yet and they vary with different spice blends and bases such as tomatoes or coconut. The only decent takeaway near us is an Indian and one of our favourite is the duck xacuti, so we wanted to have a go at it ourselves, it tasted less sweet than theirs but I think that is a good thing. This curry only cooks for 30 mins which at first made me nervous (unless it is fish) but the end result was a tasty fragrant yummy dinner. It is not a hot curry it is just  medium spicy and fragrant with a background warmth that makes you feel good inside particularly in this colder weather. Perfect for a quick tasty supper.

Ingredients (serves 6 or 2 plus extra freezer portions)

  • 6 duck legs
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3½ tbsp tamarind paste

For the Xacuti Paste

  • 120g desiccated or fresh coconut
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 5cm cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 heaped tbsp poppy seeds
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped


  1. Remove the skin from the duck. Place the turmeric and salt in a bowl turn the legs one at a time in the mixture until evenly coated, use more turmeric and salt if necessary
  2. Heat a dry frying pan over a low heat and toast the coconut for 5 minutes, until it starts to brown; tip out and set aside. In the same pan, toast the chilli flakes, coriander seeds, cinnamon, peppercorns, cumin and fennel seeds, cloves and star anise for 1-2 minutes, stirring well until fragrant. When it starts smelling fragrant, add the poppy seeds; toast for 1 minutes. Cool, then whizz with the coconut pieces, garlic and 3 tbsp water in a blender. Add another 3 tbsp water and whizz again to a thick, smooth paste.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and add the onions. Fry over a medium heat for 10 minutes, until they soften and start to turn light brown making sure they don’t burn. Add the xacuti paste and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes, making sure it doesn’t stick. Turn the heat up slightly; and 100ml water, scraping the spices from the bottom of the pan. Add the duck legs and fry for 5 minutes, coating it in the paste.
  4. Add another 500ml water, stir and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, until the duck is cooked through. Add the nutmeg and tamarind paste and simmer, uncovered, for a final 7-8 minutes. Serve with rice or naans.

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