Chettinad Chicken, like the name suggests, is a spicy and flavourful curry, hailing from the Chettinad region of Southern India. The Chettinad region, located in Tamil Nadu, is famous for its own style of cuisine, especially of the non vegetarian variety. It is also believed to be quite spicy, and full of beautiful flavours that bring out the beauty of the coastal cuisine.
Now, this dish is one of the most well-known varieties of chicken dishes in coastal Tamil Nadu, and has numerous versions, each delightful in its own way. The main flavour comes from the ‘Chettinad Masala’, that forms the base of the dish, resulting in a beautiful, coconutty curry that can be had with steamed/boiled rice, or chapatis/rotis.
The masala is so versatile; you can make a big batch and store it in an air-tight container for up to two weeks, using it for other dishes as well. (The picture of the masala is rather unclear as I took it in the middle of cooking from my mobile 😦 nevertheless)
Chettinad Chicken is seriously one of my favourite South Indian dishes, one I first ate when I was twelve. Our neighbours were a Catholic family from Kerala, who often made this version of Chettinad Chicken; aunty had learnt this recipe from her mother-in-law, who hailed from a small town in the Chettinad region. I have followed the recipe that my mom had jotted down in her recipe notebook, way back then, and that’s what I have made here too!
- Chicken – 750 gms, drumsticks (you can use mixed pieces)
- Onions – 2 medium, sliced finely
- Tomatoes – 2 medium, chopped
- Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
- Red chili powder – 1 tsp
- Salt as needed
For the marinade:
- Yogurt/Hung curd – 2 tbsp (you can use lemon juice as well)
- Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tbsp
- Pepper powder – 1 tsp
- Turmeric – 1 tsp
- Salt as needed
Chettinad Masala (dry roast, ground into masala):
- Dry coconut/Copra – Grated, 1/2 cup
- Poppy seeds – 1 tbsp (replace with 8 cashews if no poppy seeds)
- Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
- Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
- Cumin – 1/2 tsp
- Peppercorns – 1 tsp
- Dry red chilies – 4 to 5, depending on heat preference
- Green cardamom – 3
- Cloves – 5
- Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
- Slit the washed chicken pieces, and use the ‘marinade’ mentioned above, by applying it liberally all over.
- Keep aside for 2 to 4 hours.
- Make the chettinad masala, and keep aside as well.. (I have used 1 tbsp of the masala for marinating the chicken)
- Heat a pan, add oil, and fry the onions until translucent.
- Add the tomatoes and curry leaves, and fry until nicely roasted.
- Now add the marinated chicken, salt, if needed, and the remaining Chettinad masala paste.
- Fry until the masala leaves oil, and then add 1 cup water, enough to cover the chicken.
- Cook on a medium flame, covered, for 8 to 12 minutes, or until chicken is tender.
- Then check chicken, seasonings and consistency. If needed, add a little more water, and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. (You may pressure cook for 1 or 2 whistles)
- When gravy is nice and thick, or semi-dry, turn off heat. Chicken Chettinad is ready 🙂