If you like spicy chicken curries then this fiery, aromatic Chicken Chettinad curry is right up your alley. Delicious to the core, you’ll want to lick your plate off.
What is Chettinad chicken?
If you have never had it before, Chicken Chettinad is a spicy and aromatic chicken curry from central Tamil Nadu (a state in the Southern part of India). This region is famed for its rich culinary heritage and repertoire of excellent dishes that are perhaps unparalleled anywhere else in the region.
It is all about the spice!
What makes this dish stand out is its rich, spicy and aromatic flavor. It is always cooked with a special blend of freshly roasted and ground spice mix or masala. The fresh masala infuses the dish with all its flavors and gives the Chettinad Chicken its gorgeous aroma and signature spicy taste.
What is Chettinad cuisine? What is it known for?
I grew up in a community with lots of families from Tamil Nadu. All of them were vegetarians and I always believed that Tamilians never ate any meat. I finally got rid of my misconception when I was introduced to Chettinad cuisine.
Chettinad cuisine comes from the Nattukotai Chettiar or Nagaratha community. They were traditionally vegetarian seafaring traders who traveled all over South East Asia, Sri Lanka, and the Middle East to trade in spices, grains, and gems, etc. They brought back food influences from all these areas to create their own distinctive cuisine which we now know as the Chettinad Cuisine.
It is funny that the cuisine of traditionally vegetarian people is best known for a non-vegetarian chicken dish!
The Chettiar were apparently, introduced to the delights of non-vegetarian food on their travels across the seas. They brought back these foods with them and introduced them into their own cuisine giving us one the most distinctive and delicious dishes – the Chicken Chettinad.
Chettinad cuisine uses a unique blend of spices that is unlike any other. Most of the spices used are freshly roasted and ground before being used which helps to release the flavors from the spices and makes their dishes so deliciously aromatic. Most of the dishes, including the Chettinad Chicken is served with dosa, appam or rice.
If you like spicy food, then you’ll love these popular curries and biryanis from the southern part of India
- Chettinad chicken biryani – a delicious biryani from Chettinad
- Kori Gassi (Mangalorean chicken curry) – a coconut based spicy chicken curry
- Chicken ghee roast – a spicy and tangy chicken curry from Karnataka
- Shrimp gassi (shrimp curry) – a Mangalorean style shrimp/prawn curry
Chicken Chettinad Curry
- 1 lb. pound Chicken thighs, cut into desired size
- 2 teaspoons Chilli powder
- salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 tomato, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon channa dal, split Bengal gram
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 7-8 Kashmiri chilies, or 15-16 Byadagi chilies
- 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 grated coconut
- 1 tomato, finely chopped
- 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 grated 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 the marinated 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.
Disclaimer: Approximate Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.