This traditional Kerala chicken curry (nadan chicken curry) recipe is from my granma’s kitchen. She was an excellent cook, and a great hostess. And this was one of the many great dishes that she used to make during special occasions. All ingredients were organic, and most of them sourced locally.
My grandparents lived in a beautiful countryside Kerala village, amidst the lush greenery of coconut and areca nut plantations, paddy fields and mango trees. While growing up, my sister and I used to look forward to our summer vacations. It’s during this time that we got to visit our grandparents, run around, play day and night with our cousins like there was no tomorrow. This was our respite from studies, home works, school buses, and urban life. It was also the time we got to eat a lot of delicious, traditional food from my granma’s kitchen. My love for great tasting food must have started here! My first few attempts at cooking was also from her kitchen.
There was such great produce in abundance there! Organic free-range chicken from the farm, fresh curry leaves off the tree, all the great homegrown spices – black pepper, dry red chillies, it was all there!
The first time I tried cooking this nadan homemade chicken curry, I did it under my mom’s supervision. It came out well, and I was proud of my achievement. I have cooked this recipe many times after that. All my friends who have cooked this recipe have loved it. I believe, by writing up the following recipe, I have done justice to my granma’s delicacy.
Next time you feel like having some Kerala chicken curry, give this nadan chicken curry a try. I guarantee that you’ll love it!
About this Kerala chicken curry recipe
This is a pretty simple recipe to cook. There are two definitive steps to it. The first step involves cooking the chicken in a pressure cooker with masalas (spices). The second step involves pan-frying onions, tomatoes, and curry leaves separately to a nice mix before adding it to the cooked chicken.
Check out the step-by-step recipe with pictures below. Also, don’t forget to go through the kitchen tips for some additional information.
Homemade Chicken Curry - Kerala Style
- 1 kg chicken free-range organic
- 1 inch ginger
- 7-8 shallots
- 2 medium green chilies
- 1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder (or 4-5 dry red chillies)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon coriander powder (or 2 tablespoon coriander seeds)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- salt to taste
- 5-6 stalks cilantro coriander leaves
- 3 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3 medium onions finely chopped
- 2 - 3 stalks curry leaves
- 1 inch ginger chopped to small pieces and crushed
- 4-5 cloves garlic sliced and crushed
- 5-6 shallots sliced and crushed
- 2 green chillies sliced and crushed
- 1 medium tomato finely chopped
Homemade garam masala (or use your favourite shop-bought garam masala)
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 inch cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon whole black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- nutmeg powder a pinch
- 3 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- Cut the chicken to medium size pieces, and place in a pressure cooker.
- Add coriander powder*, chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt.
- Coarsely grind shallots, green chillies, and ginger, and add to the pressure cooker.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of water, mix well, and cook until the first whistle.
- Switch off the flame, and let it rest with the lid on.
- Thinly slice the onions and chop the tomatoes.
- Heat some oil in a cast iron skillet. Reduce the flame to medium, and add the onions and curry leaves.
- Cook till the onions turn translucent.
- Add the crushed ginger, garlic, green chillies, and shallots.
- Stir well and cook till the raw smell of garlic and shallots disappear. Add the chopped tomatoes. Add salt to taste.
- Cook till the tomatoes start to disappear into the onion mix.
- Open the pressure cooker. The chicken should be cooked to perfection in the masala gravy.
- Transfer the contents in the cooker to the skillet with fried onions and tomatoes.
- Add the coriander leaves*, and mix well.
- Cook further on a high flame to get the gravy to a thick consistency.
- Dry roast and powder the aroma mix ingredients. Add this garam masala* to the curry, and give it a quick stir just before turning off the flame.
- For better results - In step 2, roast red chillies and coriander seeds, grind to fine powder in a mixer. Use this powder instead of the coriander powder and chilli powder
- You don't have to chop the coriander leaves. Leave them on with the stalks for a rustic look
- You can skip adding the aroma mix, and the curry will still taste great
- Alternatively, add a teaspoon of garam masala instead of making it yourself
- Serving suggestion - Enjoyed best with rice. Will taste fantastic with dosa, or chapati as well