Chettinad Chicken Curry and I have come a long way. It was probably 10 years ago when I first tasted this gravy along with some soft and warm naans and I became a huge fan. I loved it so much that I decided to try this at home and voila ! … Julia Child’s or maybe Sanjeev Kapoor’s successor had arrived. No, not really… Here’s what happened – I made the curry and hadn’t tasted it yet and some friends unexpectedly stopped by. It’s always more fun to eat with others and they stayed for dinner and I served this curry along with rice. I thought it wasn’t quite right but everyone kept saying it was fine … as you may have guessed we have very polite friends. Polite enough not to mention it, but the poor souls still had to dispose it in the same trash can that I dumped my plate in; except my poor husband, of course, who cleaned his plate. I must have set his expectations so low that even a barely edible dish was acceptable to him. Anyways, I tried making Chettinad Chicken Curry a couple of times after that incident and though it never was as bad as the first one, it still didn’t make the cut until yesterday which was when I had an epiphany and I finally decided enough was enough and I had to get my favorite dish right! I posted in a Facebook group asking for recipes, scoured the internet and that helped me get a general idea on the spices that would be needed and started my journey to nail this recipe down.
Note: This recipe does need a lot of spices! When I was roasting the spices, my mom pointed out that it smelled like a masala factory..When it comes to spices, I believe less is more.Though I looked up a lot of recipes on the internet, somehow I was not convinced about the recommended amount of spices in those recipes so I went with my gut feeling and that helped me get the balance I was looking for
- 1 lb. / pound Chicken thighs, cut into desired size
- 1 lb. / pound Chicken drumsticks)
- 2 teaspoons Chilli powder
- salt to taste
- For the gravy
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 tomato, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon channa dal (split Bengal gram)
- salt to taste
- Spice / Masala powder
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon black pepper seeds
- 7-8 Kashmiri chilli OR 15-16 Byadagi chilli
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds
- 1 star anise seed
- 1 black cardamom (badi elaichi)
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds (khus khus)
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 4 tablespoons desiccated coconut
- 1 tomato, finely chopped
- For the tadka / tempering
- 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 sprig curry leaves (kadipatta)
- 2 red chillies
- Finely cut coriander leaves for garnishing
- Marinate the chicken with salt and chilly powder (2 teaspoons) and set it aside.
- Heat oil in a medium sized pan and at medium heat, add all the ingredients listed in the masala section to the pan and roast it till an aroma emanates from it( which will happen in approximately 20-30 seconds). Add the desiccated coconut and roast for another 10 seconds and take it off heat.
- Transfer the spices / masala to a blender along with the tomato (use only one tomato) and grind it to a fine paste using water as needed. (Start with no water and add tablespoons at a time till you get a paste of fine consistency).
- Heat oil in a cooker kept at medium heat. Once heated, add onions and garlic and fry them. When the onions turn translucent, add cut tomatoes and fry them till they are mushy.
- Add chicken, channa dal and the ground masala from the previous step and mix well. Add water to get it to the consistency desired.
- Cover the cooker and put the vent on. Let the vent go off once before switching off the gas.Wait for the cooker to cool down before opening the lid.
- Heat oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds and when they begin to pop, add curry leaves and red chillies and switch off the gas. Add this tadka to the cooked chicken and blend it in.
- Garnish it with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or roti.
You can also make the Chettinad spice powder in large quantities and store it in an air tight container for future use.