Chettinad Pepper Chicken Curry
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Chettinad Chicken Masala

This is an absolute classic from the southern part of India, Tamil Nadu- something of a darling-child dish, adored and celebrated by the region.

Chettinad cuisine is hailed as being one of the most complex and well balanced cuisines in the whole of India – this chicken dish does not disappoint with its flavours and textures that pack a punch. This dish wouldn’t have it’s name without the Chettinad masala mix so don’t feel as if you can substitute it with Garam Masala or some other spice blend. There is a recipe for the masala mix here but you may also be able to find a pre-made version in a good Indian supermarket.

Finally, if you can’t get your hands on tamarind paste, substitute with a mix of equal parts lime juice and brown sugar. Using tamarind will add a sourness to the dish which will lift the whole thing and really help to heighten the other flavours going on.

Chettinad Chicken Masala

Chettinad Chicken Masala

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Course: DinnerCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 

If you can’t get your hands on tamarind paste, substitute with a mix of equal parts lime juice and brown sugar. Using tamarind will add a sourness to the dish which will lift the whole thing and really help to heighten the other flavours going on.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil

  • 1 piece cinnamon bark

  • 4 whole green cardamom pods, bruised

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 1 large red onion, chopped finely

  • 2 tbsp Garlic & Ginger Paste

  • 1.5 kg skinless chicken thighs

  • 2 tbsp Chettinad Masala Spice Mix

  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut

  • 1 tin tomatoes

  • 1 tsp turmeric powder

  • 2 tsp tamarind paste

  • fresh coriander and chillies, to garnish

Directions

  • Heat the coconut oil in a large pan. Add the cinnamon bark, cardamom and bay leaves for 30 seconds to release their aroma.
  • Add the chopped onion and cook until softened and translucent but not brown. Add a good sprinkling of salt to help the onions release their moisture and cook faster.
  • Add the garlic and ginger paste, then fry for 1 minute whilst stirring so that it doesn’t catch and burn.
  • Now add the chicken along with the Chettinad masala and fry for the 4 minutes, turning the meat to coat it in all of the spices and aromatics.
  • Finally add the desiccated coconut, along with the tinned tomatoes, a tin of water, the turmeric, tamarind paste and 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix well then cover and leave to cook for 50-55 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking to see if any more water needs adding. Note that this dish should be on the dryer side as opposed to being super saucy and watery.
  • Check for seasoning, add more salt if needed and stir through the fresh coriander. Serve with fluffy basmati rice, more fresh coriander and fresh sliced chillies if you want more heat.

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