Kongu cuisine one of the regional cuisines of Tamilnadu can be best explained by talking about areas in Tamilnadu that is called Kongunadu. Today it is the districts of Coimbatore, Erode, Salem, Tirupur, Karur, Namakkal, Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri and bounded by Kerala to the West and Karnataka to the North. Predominantly an agrarian society well served by river Cauvery and its tributaries, every day foods of the people in this region reflect those surroundings – fresh vegetables, greens, poultry, diary and grains.
Foods grown in the area include coconut, sugarcane, turmeric, mangoes, tomatoesH, rice, tamarind, sesame, peanuts, maize (corn), pearl millet, sorghum, various greens and hence foods incorporated them in the everyday meals.
Chicken - 1 kg (I used thighs but all parts of the chicken can be used)
Red onions - 2 (the small onions works best) about 2 cups, of this set aside a 1/2 cup of finely chopped onions separate, the rest can be roughly chopped
Garlic - 10 cloves
Ginger - 2 inch piece
Tomatoes - 2 medium sized, finely chopped (optional, only use for gravy, skip for fry)
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Red chilies - 10-12 (adjust according to taste and heat of the chilies)
Salt to taste
Oil - 2-3 tsps
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder - 1-2 tsps
Cinnamon - 1/4 inch
Cloves - 2-3
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a sprig
Clean and cut the chicken to bite sized pieces. Mix in a bit of salt and red and 1 tsp of red chili powder and set aside. (purely optional)
In a pan heat a bit of oil and saute the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and add the red chilies last till they turn slightly brown and give out a nice aroma remove and set aside.
In the same pan, add the onion (1 1/2 cups), garlic and ginger and saute till the onion turns brown. Cool and blend together with the coriander, chilies and cumin seeds.
Now in a thick bottomed vessel or a pressure cooker, heat oil and add the aromatic seasonings and when they start to turn brown, add the curry leaves, followed by the onions and saute till they turn translucent.
Add the chicken pieces and turmeric powder and saute till the outside of the chicken gets a bit brown or turns white (about 8-10 minutes)
Now add the chopped tomatoes and let them get cooked and start to get mushy.
Add the ground masala and about a 1/4 cup of water (at this stage you can cover... see tips below)
Add salt and let the chicken cook and mix well with the gravy (about 8 more minutes).
At this point reduce the heat to less than medium and let the gravy gets reduced and let all the moisture evaporate.
If you want a nice fry continue to saute till the masala is nice and dry.
I have noticed in India the chicken takes a longer time to cook while in the US just cooking on the stove top will do. So cover the pressure cooker after adding about 1/2 cup of water and let it cook for a whistle. Then open the cooker and continue.
I use the aluminum cooker vessel or a thick bottom vessel so there is no need to add a lot of oil.