This Chettinad chicken curry recipe is from one of the most aromatic and spiciest cuisines of India – Chettinad! Chettinad cuisine, from the Chettinad region of the South Indian state Tamil Nadu, is known for its distinctly aromatic and spicy style.
Let me be honest here. This curry is not for the faint-hearted! I am not saying that this curry is too hot, but it is definitely a celebration of spices that we have to balance well!
Chettinad cuisine is distinctly aromatic, spicy, and fiery. It has a lot of flavours going on, so finding the perfect blend of spices is the key.
The base that adds character to most of the signature Chettinad curries is made up of freshly ground (and sometimes fried) spices, tomatoes, chillies, ginger, garlic, tamarind and coconut.
Don’t worry, make Chettinad chicken curry
If you had shied away from cooking Chettinad chicken worrying it’s a complicated dish, this “take-it-easy version simplifies it for you! My wife loves it so much that it has become a popular item on our Sunday lunch menu.
Cooking this Chettinad chicken curry involves three steps. The first step involves dry-frying the spices and grinding to a paste. The second step involves cooking the marinated chicken with onion, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes. And the third and final step involves simmering the chicken adding the ground paste we made earlier.
If you liked my Chettinad chicken curry recipe, I recommend you check out the following recipes as well.
- Chicken Chinthamani – This culinary gem from the Tamil cuisine is a popular bar snack from Chennai
- Kori Sukka – Mellow tanginess of tamarind, subtle sweetness of coconut, unmistakable flavours of fried spices, and warm notes of dried chillies, this dish brings together all the great flavours of the Konkan coast
- Chicken Perattu – This dry chicken curry preparation from Kerala involves slow-cooking chicken pieces in a dry red chilli paste base
Chettinad Chicken Curry
- 500 grams chicken
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 3 medium onions
- 1 inch ginger
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 sprig curry leaves
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon oil
For Chettinad Spice Mix
- 1 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 4 dry red chilies
- 4 cardamom
- 1 teaspoon whole black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 star anise
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 4 cloves
- 1/4 cup grated coconut
- tamarind 1/4 the size of a lime and soaked in water
- 2 sprigs coriander leaves (cilantro)
- Keep the whole spices ready.
- Ingredients like cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, can significantly alter the flavour balance of the dish.
- Take special care not to add more that the stipulated quantities in this recipe.
- Wash the chicken pieces, and cut to small/medium sized pieces.
- Thinly slice the onions. Finely chop tomatoes, ginger, and garlic.
- Add turmeric, salt, lime juice to the chicken and mix well. Keep aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
- Dry roast the spices in a pan, without the red chillies, on medium flame.
- Once they start to turn brown, add chillies, and fry for 30 seconds while stirring frequently. The spices should turn golden brown.
- Now add the grated coconut, stir well and fry till the mixture is evenly golden brown.
- Keep the pan aside to cool.
- In a pressure cooker, heat some oil and fry onions till they turn tender.
- Add ginger, garlic and curry leaves. Fry for a couple of minutes.
- Add the marinated chicken pieces and mix well.
- Add chopped tomatoes, stir well, close the lid, and cook on a high flame on pressure cooker mode.
- Cook until you get the first whistle. Switch off and set aside to cool.
- Transfer the fried spices (it shouldn't be hot) to a mixer jar.
- Blitz the fried spices in a mixer to fine powder (do not add water).
- Once you have an evenly ground mixture, add 1/4 cup water and blend well.
- Add the tamarind water and little more water (up to 1/4 cup) and blend until you get a smooth, paste-like consistency.
- Now open the pressure cooker (Don't force open. Wait until the pressure is fully released), and transfer the contents to a pan.
- Add the ground spice paste and mix well.
- Simmer on a low flame for 10-15 minutes.
- Add more water if required and reduce a little.
- Check for salt.
- Finely chop cilantro (coriander leaves) and garnish.
- Serve hot with rice.
- To balance the heat, I used 3 Kashmiri dry red chilies, and just one red hot chilly. If you like your Chicken Chettinad fiery, feel free to replace Kashmiri chilies with hotter variants.
- I haven't used kalpasi (stone flower), one of the ingredients common in traditional Chettinad chicken recipes, in my recipe. If you can get hold of it, add 2-3 in step 7 along with ginger and garlic.
Arun, this recipe looks delicious and I look forward to trying it. I noticed you mentioned tamarind in the intro but it’s not listed in the ingredients. Was lime juice a substitute for tamarind? If so, is it a 1:1 replacement for the lime juice? Thank you.
Thank you very much.
That was a miss. Good catch 🙂
I have updated with the tamarind quantity now.
Hello Arun, thanks a lot for this fantastic yummy collection of recipes. I tried this one today. The gravy turned out extremely bitter. I must admit I used also ½ teaspoon of methi seeds but roasted them before – so this is probably not the source of bitterness. I think the taste of the grinded 4 cloves ist too strong and spoiled the dish. Next time i will try to use only two and not to grind them in the past.
All the best from Berlin
Thank you very much for the message from Berlin, Thomas. 🙂
I am wondering what caused the bitterness. Methi seeds could be one reason.
This recipe really came out good. I had eaten outside in restaurant and always wanted to make it similar way. Your recipe really came out to be good. The only question i have about dry roast ingredient is you have said 2tsp fennel but picture was showing same as cumin as 1tsp so i am not sure. I tried with one tsp and came out good
Thank you very much, Chandralekha 🙂
I have used both fennel and cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 2 teaspoon fennel seeds.
Just finished simmering. I topped it with a tiny bit of ghee. The entire house is full of its aroma. Loving it. Thank you Arun for such an quick and easy recipe. Waiting for more.
😀 That’s me grinning from ear to ear!! Thank you very much for the feedback.
I am chuffed to hear that the Chettinad chicken curry turned out well. Adding ghee was a nice touch!
And the aroma! You have painted a beautiful picture there!
Thank you again. Keep coming back for more recipes. 🙂
Me and Aditya tried this recipe yesterday and absolutely loved it. Thanks for the recipe!
Thank you very much Nishi! 🙂 🙂
I am delighted to hear that you loved my Chettinad chicken recipe. Thank YOU for trying it!
Today tried – Cooking in pressure cooker made the chicken over cooked and chicken should boiled with Masala, last 20 min is not enough time. Result – masala and chicken not properly mixed, so chicken have no taste and over cooked
I am sorry to hear that Thomas. This is one of my most tried and tested recipes on the blog, and until now all the results and feedback have been positive.
Did you pressure cook for more than two whistles (one on high flame and one on low)? Simmering with the masala in the last step usually gets flavours on the meat perfectly. That last step is all about slow cooking.
I tried the recipe and it came out very well. It was fantastic and smells very nice and yummierrrrrr. Just loved it !!
Thank you very much Anbarasi!! 🙂 That was a delightful feedback to read. Thank you for visiting my blog. I am glad to hear that it came out well!!!
Awesome recipe….. Tried it came out well perfect taste and colour…..thank u….
Thank you very much Usha!! 🙂 This comment made my day!! Happy to learn that the Chettinad chicken curry came out well. 🙂 🙂
I Tried your recipe, today plain briyani and this chicken gravy came out super yar awesome thank you so much Arun
Thank you very much!! 🙂 I am super happy to learn that the Chettinad chicken came out super, and paired out well with biryani!! 🙂 🙂
Hello, it’s a perfect fit for a lazy lunch on the weekend. Family loved it. Lovely recipes. Will check out more. Thank you for the post.
Thank you very much for the comments!! 🙂 🙂 Delighted to learn that the Chettinad chicken received a warm welcome.
My husband and I tried out your recipe today to impress my in laws and they absolutely loved it! It turned out so delicious.. thank you very much. And this was our first experience cooking a chicken dish, it was so simple thanks to you! Will be trying out all your other recipes soon!
Hi Shal & Thiva,
Thank you very much!! Am delighted to see your comments! 🙂
Keep coming back for more recipes. I am sure you’ll like it.
I hv tried it. Really nice recipe. But I am not able to get the color. It came as more brownish than reddish. Hv u added any coloring agent.
Thank you Vino. Happy to learn that you like my recipe. I haven’t used any colouring agents (I don’t use any artificial colours in any of the recipes). This reddish brown colour that you see in this post has to be Kashmiri chillies and turmeric.
Tried your recipe….came out super delicious.
Thank you very much Reena! 🙂 Your comment made my day.
good pictures. looks easy too!
Love the presentation. I am going to try this!
Thank you Sujitha. 🙂