Friday, May 25, 2018

Chettinad Chicken Curry

There are many curry bases for chicken, seafood, and mutton in Indian cuisine. Every region has its own unique twist based on the local spices and technique. Some have evolved over time while others have been influenced by travelers and culture shift.
Chettinad chicken curry is a fiery and vibrant Tamil delicacy and very true to its roots. This culinary delight gets high marks for spiciness and is not for the faint-hearted.

Chettinad Cuisine hails from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu, India and is renowned for its spicy vibrant curries with complex yet perfectly balanced flavor. The fiery gravy that forms the base for these curries is made with a combination of a few fresh ingredients and freshly ground local spices.
Chettinad masala is a fiery delicious blend of spices and a key ingredient in many dishes from the Chettinad Cuisine. It is loaded with red chilies and coconut and earthy spices like cumin, coriander, fennel, cinnamon along with some local spices like star anise and kalpasi. The distinct aroma of freshly ground spices that engulfs the air while making this blend is enough to make me drool.

I usually serve this chicken curry with plain steamed rice or roti, a side of cabbage and carrot stir-fry dish and a cup of buttermilk to tone down the heat. The mild taste of the accompaniments compliments the fierceness of this curry.

I keep the spice level high in my curries. If your spice threshold is different then use a few less dry red chilies. Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days or refrigerate. Use this masala to make chicken, fish, shrimp or lamb curry. Vegetarians and vegans can use it for vegetable stir-fries or veggie curry using tofu or potato or eggplant etc.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
2 lbs chicken thighs (boneless skinless)
3 tbsp oil
¼ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp mustard seeds
2-3 bay leaves
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
3 medium tomatoes, crushed
1 tbsp tomato paste
5 tbsp Chettinad masala (recipe here)
Salt to taste
¼ tsp turmeric powder
Fresh coriander to serve
  1. Clean and dry the chicken and cut them into 2X2 inch pieces. 
  2. Prepare Chettinad masala according to the recipe.
  3. Season the chicken with some salt and about 5 tbsp of Chettinad masala. Refrigerate till ready to cook. You can marinate the chicken for about 4-8 hours. 
  4. Heat oil in a pan on medium high. Add cumin and mustard seeds and let them roast for a few seconds. 
  5. Add the bay leaves and chopped onions. Saute for a few minutes till pink. Add the ginger garlic paste and continue cooking till onions turn golden brown. 
  6. Now add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes. Add the marinated chicken, turmeric powder and salt to taste. Remember chicken is already seasoned so use salt accordingly. 
  7. Continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes on medium high stirring often. Add a ¼ to ⅓ cup of water and mix well. Cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes till chicken is cooked through. Adjust the amount of gravy as desired (by either adding more water or boiling off excess liquid).
  8. Serve hot garnished with chopped fresh coriander and plain rice or roti. 

Cabbage carrot stir-fry
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
2 large carrots, grated
1-inch ginger, grated
1 tsp oil
1/4 tsp each cumin and mustard seeds
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Red chili pepper to taste
Fresh coriander, chopped
  1. Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin and mustard seeds. Let them crackle for a few seconds.
  2. Add cabbage, carrots, and ginger. Mix.
  3. Add all the dry spices and mix well. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of water and mix well again.
  4. Simmer, cover and cook for 5 minutes till a little tender. Sprinkle some freshly chopped coriander and serve hot. 

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