Chicken ularthiyathu is a popular chicken dish from the Kerala cuisine. Chicken is cooked with onions and a variety of spices including black pepper and garam masala, before reducing to a roast consistency to absorb all the flavours. Fresh coconut chips are added to this dry curry to give a crunchy texture and that forms the highlight of this dish.
These coconut chips absorb so much flavour that they become irresistible and sometimes preferred over the chicken itself. Sometimes we fight to get the last few coconut chips in the ularthu.
Chicken ularthiyathu goes well with rice and curry. It moist enough to pair beautifully with Kerala porota or chapati.
When I make chicken ularthiyathu, I prefer slightly overcooking the chicken. When you do that, the meat will start coming off as flakes. This adds to the character of the dish as you slow-cook to reduce. And all that spices that you use along with the roasted onions and chicken flakes makes it a finger licking good delicacy.
Here is how I make chicken ularthiyathu. There are three distinct steps to it – the first step is marinating the chicken, step two is frying the onions with spices and pressure-cooking with chicken, and the third and final step is stir-frying to reduce the sauce.
Chicken ularthiyathu is a simple dish to make, but it will never stop exciting you.
About this chicken ularthiyathu
We will start by marinating the chicken in chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and black pepper.
Finely chopped onions are shallow fried with ginger, garlic, tomato, green chillies, curry leaves, and spices. Marinated chicken is added to the mix with a good stir to get all the pieces covered with the masala. We’ll then pressure-cook the chicken, slightly overcooking the meat.
Ideal pan to make chicken ularthiyathu is a cheenachatti (cast iron wok). Cast iron utensils will retain the heat for a long time, which comes handy when you are slow cooking to reduce the curry base.
But don’t worry if you don’t have one. Any deep pan will suffice. It’ll be easier if it has good heat retention too.
For the final step, we’ll shallow-fry some more onions with curry leaves and spices. They have to be cooked till the onions start turning golden brown. We’ll now open the pressure-cooker and transfer the cooked chicken to the pan. Now comes the slow cooking to reduce. Reduce it till almost all the water disappear and add the coconut chips before one last stir.
For best results, serve the chicken ularthiyathu after an hour or two of cooking. This wait time further enhances the flavours!
If you like Kerala chicken dishes, don’t forget to check the following two favourites of mine.
- 1/2 kg chicken small to medium pieces
- 2 tablespoon kashmiri chilli powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon Black pepper powder
- 3 large onions finely chopped
- 2 inch ginger finely chopped
- 12 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 green chillies medium hot
- 3 sprig curry leaves
- 1 small tomato finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 cup coconut chips
- 1/2 tablespoon kashmiri chilli powder
- 1/2 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Black pepper powder
- Wash and drain the chicken pieces.
- Add chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and pepper powder.
- Mix well and keep the chicken to marinate for 15 minutes.
- Heat two tablespoon oil in the pressure cooker.
- Add half of the sliced onions, stir well, and cook on a low flame.
- Once the onions are cooked to tender, add half of the chopped ginger and garlic.
- Mix well and cook till the onions start turning brown.
- Add the chopped tomato and green chillies, mix well and cook for a few more minutes.
- Cook till the tomatoes become soft. Add chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala salt and mix well.
- Cook till you get a nice smell of the masalas.
- Add the chicken pieces and curry leaves. Mix well to get a uniform coating of the masala.
- Close the lid and pressure cook on high flame. After the first whistle, reduce to low flame and cook till the next whistle.
- Switch off and let it cool.
- In a cast iron pan (or any deep pan), heat some oil and shallow fry the remaining onions on a low flame.
- When they are tender add the remaining ginger and garlic and continue frying until the onions start turning brown.
- Open the pressure cooker (the pressure should be reduced and safe to open) and empty the chicken and masala to the pan.
- Reduce on a high flame till the curry base starts to thicken while stirring continuously.
- Add the coconut chips and curry leaves, mix well and cook on a low flame.
- Switch off. Let the chicken ularthiyathu sit for a couple of hours before serving.