Kanaviilokki – Finnish Chicken Curry With Blackcurrant Jam

by Ciaran Burke


Next week I will be visiting Finland. Each year my wife and I visit her homeland and her family and friends. I like Finland, in the summer the nights are long, the weather better than Ireland and in the winter the deep snow and cold crisp weather is refreshing. The Finns are nice people, polite and pleasant, direct and honest.

When you visit foreign places, you look for similarities, you also notice differences. The people you meet treat you as an exotic, they too look for similarities between our cultures and also observe the differences. Sometimes both can create amusing situations. A simple act on my part, a common place action in my home land can create amusement and people might make remarks. A straight forward act such as putting jam on your bread in the morning, a good example. Finns eat bread for their breakfast, they also eat jam, but the two do not meet. No, black currant jam does not get spread on their leipä, instead they eat their black currant hillo with meat. A popular home made dish is Kanaviilokki, a chicken curry and it is always served with jam, black currant jam. Imagine sitting down at the local Indian curry house, the waiter has served you your tandori chicken and asks you if there is anything else he can get you, to which you reply, “may I have a side order of black currant jam to go with this please?”. I am tempted to try it. Well until I get that opportunity I decided to give it ago at home. Hanna supplied the recipe, just like Finnish mums have been making it for decades, but with a few slight variations.

You can’t get whole chikens in the shop in Finland, you can only get portions or what they call broiler meat. We used a large breast and two thighs which we had cut up into portions when we bought our organic chiken from Irish Organic meats at Boyle farmers market, Hanna ground up the curry spices fresh, and the chicken stock came from our freezer, made from the carcass of an organic chicken after portioning it up. We use brown basmati rice.




  • 500g of chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped coarsely
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 3 teaspoons of curry powder (depending on which mix you use, add less at first and add more as it cooks if you think it needs it)
  • Butter for frying
  • cornflower for thikening
  • Black Currant Jam for serving
  • Brown Basmati Rice


  1. Melt a large knob of butter in a large sauce pan. I add a little rape seed oil to help stop the butter burning. Use a medium to low heat.
  2. Add the onion and saute until it starts to soften.
  3. Add curry powder and continue to cook until the onion softens and turns golden. Be careful not to let the onion burn and don’t let it stick to the pan, keep it moving around.
  4. Chicken can now be added, turn up the heat a little and stir around until the meat is sealed.
  5. Pour in the chicken stock, turn up the heat until the liquid boils and then lower the heat and cover the pot.
  6. Let the mixture simmer for 40 minutes, stirring every now and again to prevent it sticking
  7. Put a couple of tea spoons of corn flower in a cup and add a little water, stir to make a paste.
  8. Add a little of the cornflower at a time and stir until the curry starts to thicken, cook for another few minutes, stirring frequently.
  9. Serve the curry with boiled rice and a side dish of black currant jam.



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One Comment to “Kanaviilokki – Finnish Chicken Curry With Blackcurrant Jam”

  1. I grew up with lingonberry jam as a condiment with meat dishes, but never thought to serve it with curry. However, nothing beats a good mango chutney with curry!

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