Chettinad Pepper Chicken
Stimulate your taste buds with this fragrant Karaikudi Milagu Kozhi (Chettinad Pepper Chicken). This curry will be a blessing for those suffering from a never ending cold as it’s considered a nourishing dish packed with soul-warming culinary spices. Perfect for the winter months as the combination of chicken and pepper ward help ward off nasties and boost your immune system. I would serve it with rice congee.
Ingredients − Serves 4
- 4 chicken Marylands, skin off, bone-in about 1 kg
- 2 tbsp gf soya sauce
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 4 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 3 tbsp Indian sesame oil (gingelly) or mustard oil
- 1 x 5 cm cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 dry red chillies
- 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
- 3 green chillies, sliced diagonally
- 1 heaped tbsp fresh ginger paste (use a 3 cm piece ginger)
- 1 heaped tbsp fresh garlic paste (from 8 peeled garlic cloves)
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- Salt to taste
Pepper Masala − toast lightly in a hot Indian kadhai or fry pan, starting with the coconut, cool then grind to a fine powder using a coffee grinder. See Tip below for directions
- 4 tbsp grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
- 1½ tbsp black pepper
- ½ tbsp white pepper
- 3 cloves
- 3 cardamoms
- Juice of a small lime or lemon
- Fresh chopped coriander
- More sliced green chillies − optional
- Cut each chicken Maryland at the joint into 2 pieces. Then with a sharp meat cleaver chop each drumstick into 2 sections neatly across the bone, and each thigh into 4 pieces, with the bone in.
- Marinate the chicken with soya sauce, turmeric and red chilli powders. Keep aside for 30 minutes.
- Prepare the pepper masala spices in a hot fry pan, (as per directions in Tip below) then keep aside in a bowl to cool before grinding to a fine powder.
- Heat oil in a large round vessel and add cinnamon stick, bay leaves, fennel seeds and dry red chillies. Sauté for a minute or two on low heat being careful not to let anything burn.
- Then add the onions, pinch of salt and green chillies, cook until fragrant and onion caramelises. This can take almost 10 minutes. Next add ginger and garlic paste, cook for 3 minutes, then add chopped tomatoes and curry leaves. Cook for 5 minutes on low heat with lid on until tomatoes are mashed and thickish. Add in the coriander powder and cook for a few more minutes until well mixed into the masala.
- Next add marinated chicken pieces and sauté on medium high heat. Keep some hot water handy in a bowl by the side of the stove. Keep sprinkling a little hot water on the chicken pieces while frying, to stop the vessel from getting too dry. Add some extra oil if the chicken starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Cover and simmer with a lid for about 20 minutes until chicken is tender. Don’t add any water − the chicken should start cooking in its own juices now. After this add in the pepper masala and mix well. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the oil starts to appear.
- Adjust salt to taste, add a squeeze of lime or lemon juice. Garnish with fresh coriander and more sliced green chillies to taste.
- Serve it with rice congee.
To make the Pepper Masala, heat a small fry pan, and dry roast the fresh or frozen coconut until it turns golden and crispy. Keep aside to cool. In the same fry fan heat all remaining spices until aromatic. remove from pan and cool. In a small coffee grinder, grind the cool spices first then add the cooled coconut and grind again to form a smooth mixture.