Goan Chicken Cafreal Recipe

Last year, I finally had the chance to visit Goa and taste the amazing Goan cuisine. We happened to visit the famous Sharda Classic restaurant in Panjim and one of their most remarkable dish was chicken cafreal. Ever since I got back, I was dying to try it out at home.

The genius of the recipe lies in its simplicity. There are a very few ingredients involved and the recipe is extremely easy to follow.

Cafreal is one of the few recipes that the Portuguese brought along with them. It is believed to have originated in the Mozambique but the Portuguese made a few changes to the original recipe and named it cafreal. Cafreal is usually prepared using chicken legs but you can also use thighs or boneless chicken pieces. You can also adapt the recipe according to your taste to cook fish, seafood or red meat.

Here goes the recipe for chicken cafreal.


  • Chicken – 500gms (skinless and washed)
  • Olive oil – 2tbsp
  • Onion – 1 (big, sliced)
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar – ½ tsp
  • Coriander leaves for garnish

For cafreal paste

  • Coriander leaves – 1 whole bunch
  • Onion – 1 (small, diced)
  • Ginger – 1 small piece
  • Garlic – 7-8 pods
  • Green chillies – 3-4
  • Black peppercorns – 1tbsp
  • Cloves – 4-5
  • Cinnamon – 1 small stick
  • Coriander seeds (dhaniya) – 1tsp
  • Cumin seeds (jeera) – 1tsp
  • Fennel seeds (saunf) – ¼ tsp
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Lemon juice – 2tbsp


1) Grind all the ingredients listed for cafreal paste. Add water only if needed.

2) Marinate the chicken pieces with this paste. Keep it in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours. You can keep it marinated overnight for better flavour.

3) Heat olive oil in a pan and add the sliced onions. Saute till they turn golden brown.

4) Add the marinated chicken to the pan and cook on medium flame till the oil floats on the surface.

5) Add half a cup of water, salt and sugar. Cover and cook on low flame for 15 minutes.

6) Check if the chicken is cooked using a fork. If the meat leaves the bone easily, your chicken is perfectly cooked.

7) Once cooked, switch off the flame and garnish with coriander leaves.

If you prepare the dish without using water, it can be preserved almost for 2 weeks. In that case, use ¼ cup of rum or vinegar instead of lemon juice while preparing the paste.


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