Chicken, Chettinad Style

Chicken, Chettinad Style


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This is a dish from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu, South India. It is very spicy and aromatic. Chettiars do not eat beef or pork.

Serves: 6 

  • 150g tomatoes
  • Marinade
  • 6 onion shallots
  • 10cm ginger
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon poppyseeds
  • 400g grated coconut, see note
  • 470g dried red chillies
  • 50ml water
  • 1 kg chicken, skinned and cut chicken into bite size pieces
  • Curry
  • 6 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2.5cm cinnamon stick
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 250g onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 pinch salt, to taste
  • 1 bunch coriander leaves, finely diced, to serve

Preparation:25min  ›  Cook:50min  ›  Ready in:1hour15min 

  1. Tomatoes: Purée the tomatoes; cut the tail end of the tomatoes and immerse them in boiling water for 2 minutes. Once the skin starts shrinking take it out and peel the skin. Roughly diced them and blend to make a fine purée.
  2. Marinade: Make a paste from the shallots, ginger, garlic, cumin, peppercorns, poppyseeds, coconut, chillies and water.
  3. Marinate chicken pieces in the marinade for about 40 minutes.
  4. Curry: Heat oil in a deep bottomed saucepan then add the cumin seeds and allow to splutter.
  5. Add to the saucepan cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, star anise and bay leaves then sauté for 2 minutes.
  6. Add onions and sauté until golden brown.
  7. Add tomato purée and allow to cook for 7 minutes until the oil separates from tomatoes.
  8. Add chicken, turmeric and salt then cover and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and cook for about 35 minutes until done.

Grated Coconut:

Fresh grated coconut tastes better. If you do not have a coconut grater cut the coconut flesh into 2cm pieces then with a little bit of water blender it into a paste. Coconut cream can be used.

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