Sunday, 29 September 2013

Chicken Chettinad

Chicken Chettinad

Spicy and aromatic, this superb ‘Chettinad’ recipe hits all the right spots. The original Chettinad recipe does not have cashews or cream in its list of ingredients. I wanted to give the recipe a twist of my own, hence have used cashews and cream to enhance the texture of the gravy. With the amount of spice involved you may feel it will be unbearably spicy but it’s not. The spice level is absolutely perfect! The flavors blend beautifully. Enjoy!


1 chicken (about 800 grams), cut into 10 pieces
7 tablespoons oil
2 onions, chopped fine
15 curry leaves
4 large tomatoes, pureed
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
¾ teaspoon red chili powder
3” piece ginger
10 large flakes garlic
1 tablespoon poppy seeds / khus-khus
35 grams cashew nuts, broken into pieces
1 cup cream, gently smoothen with a whisk or fork
Salt, to taste
Coriander leaves, chopped, to garnish

Chettinad Masala:

½ cup freshly grated coconut
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
2½ teaspoons peppercorns
9 whole red Kashmiri chilies
3 green cardamoms (use only seeds)
3 cloves
1” cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon oil


  1. Soak poppy seeds and cashew nuts in a little warm water for 15 minutes.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add coconut, coriander, cumin, fennel, red chilies, cloves, cinnamon and seeds of cardamoms to the oil. Stir fry till fragrant and remove from fire.

  3. Drain poppy seeds and cashew nuts.
  4. Grind the roasted masala with the drained poppy seeds, cashew nuts, ginger and garlic to a smooth, thick paste with ½ cup water.

  5. Heat oil in a kadhai/wok or a heavy bottomed vessel, add the chopped onions. Fry till light brown.

  6. Add salt, turmeric, red chili powder and sauté for a few seconds. Add the pureed tomatoes. Sauté tomatoes till they are cooked and oil separates.

  7. Add the ground paste, sauté for two minutes.

  8. Add chicken pieces and curry leaves and cook, stirring intermittently, for 2 minutes.
  9. Add 3 cups water, cover and cook. Keep stirring carefully, once every 5 minutes, while the chicken is cooking. Cook till the chicken is tender and the gravy thickens. Keep aside till serving time.

  10. At serving time reheat the chicken; lower heat, add 1 cup smoothened cream. Keep on low heat, stirring continuously till it simmers gently.
  11. Garnished with coriander leaves. Serve with onions rings and lime wedges.

Chef Notes:

  1. If you reside in a country that has strict laws in regard to using poppy seeds, you may substitute it with extra cashew nuts.
  2. Whenever a recipe asks for cream, always opt for Amul low-fat cream. Using cream helps retain the texture of the gravy. That way you get to use cream, retain the texture of the dish and you save up on added calories that you just can't avoid if using heavy cream. If you are extremely health-conscious, use half the quantity of cream.
  3. You may share the direct blog-link of the recipe/s but do NOT publish my recipes and my photographs on any blog-site or website without my explicit consent or attempt to pass off my recipe/s as your own. You will be held accountable for plagiarism.