Chicken Chettinad

by Monisha Bharadwaj

A flavoursome and aromatic curry from Tamil Nadu, south India


For the Chettinad masala powder:
4 dried red chillies, broken in half, seeds shaken out
½ tsp black peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp aniseed
4 cloves
6 green cardamom pods, seeds removed and husks discarded
1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the curry:
2 tbsp sunflower oil
10 curry leaves
2 onions, chopped
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tomatoes, chopped
½-1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
600g boneless chicken thighs or breasts, skinned and cut into 3cm pieces
A handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped, to garnish


To make the masala powder, warm a frying pan over a high heat and dry roast the chillies, crushed peppercorns, aniseed, cloves and cardamom seeds until they begin to darken and develop an aroma. Remove from the heat and crush to a powder in a pestle and mortar, then mix in the ground cinnamon.

Heat the oil in the frying pan over a high heat and drop in the curry leaves and onions. Stir-fry for 7-8 mins until the onions are soft, then tip in the ginger-garlic paste and stir, add the tomatoes and season with salt. Cook for 3-4 mins until well blended.

Add the Chettinad spice powder, chilli powder and turmeric, then stir in the chicken and cook until sealed on all sides. Season with salt.

Add a few tbsp water and cook for 15-20 mins, until the chicken is white all the way through when you cut open a piece. Sprinkle with coriander leaves.

Recipe: Monisha Bharadwaj