I first had this fiery, deeply flavorful chicken dish as a friend’s home along with dosas and ever since hooked to it. I was told it’s a traditional Chettinad chicken curry and that there are quite a few variations to this recipe. In today’s version, chicken is simmered in coconut milk and gets its unique flavor from a blend of quite a few spices like fennel seeds, coriander seeds, poppy seeds, pepper corns, cardamoms and cumin to name a few.
Quite a bit of preparation goes into the making of this curry and there is no short cut method and if you have the time and the ingredients on hand, only then venture to prepare and please don’t compromise with the ingredients if you want that authentic chicken curry flavor.
1 kg chicken, washed and cut into medium sized pieces
1 cup small onions, shallots (sambar onions)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp turmeric pwd
10-12 curry leaves
1 cup coconut milk (extract from 1/2 coconut)
fresh coriander leaves for garnish
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
Make a paste:
2 green chillis
8 garlic flakes
1 tsp poppy seeds (soak in warm water for 10 mts)
Roast and make a powder:
1/2 tsp pepper corns
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 tsp fennel seeds
1 1/2 tbsps coriander seeds
6-8 dry red chillies
6-7 curry leaves
1/2 tsp oil
Drizzle a vessel with oil and roast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, fennel seeds, red chillis, cardamoms, cinnamon and curry leaves on medium heat stirring constantly for 2 mts. Remove from fire, cool and grind to a powder.
Make a paste of the ginger, garlic, green chillies and poppy seeds. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a cooking vessel, add the small onions and curry leaves and saute till transparent.
Add the ground paste and cook for a minute before adding the chicken and cook on high heat for approx 4 mts and do stir the chicken once in a while.
Reduce to medium heat, add salt, turmeric pwd and tomatoes and combine well. Let the chicken cook in this for 4-5 mts, uncovered.
Now add the coconut milk and transfer the contents to a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4 mts or until one whistle. Open lid and combine well.
Finally add the ground masala pwd and cook for 3 mts. Turn off heat and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
Serve hot with white steamed rice, biryani, chapatis or dosas.
Adjust the green chillis, red chillis and pepper corns according to your spice level. Ensure that the chicken doesn’t pressure cook for more than one whistle, as it could get mushy if pressure cooked beyond the required time. In fact, mutton is usually used for this recipe but it tastes equally good with chicken.