Chettinad Black Pepper Chicken Masala

13 March 2019 By

Stimulate your taste buds with this fragrant Karaikudi Chettinad Milagu Kozhi (Pepper Chicken). This curry will be a blessing for those suffering from a never ending cold as it’s a warming dish with soul warming spices. Perfect for the winter months because the chicken and pepper ward off nasties and boost your immune system. I would serve it with rice congee.

Chettinad Black Pepper Chicken

Ingredients − Serves 4


  • 4 chicken Marylands, skin off, bone-in about 1 kg
  • 2 tbsp gf soya sauce
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 tsp red chilli powder


  • 3 tbsp coconut 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 brown onions, finely chopped
  • 3 green chillies, sliced diagonally
  • 1 heaped tbsp fresh ginger paste
  • 1 heaped tbsp fresh garlic paste
  • 2 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, cool then grind to a fine powder using a small coffee grinder

  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. Marinate the chicken with soya sauce, turmeric and red chilli powders. Keep aside for 30 minutes.
  3. Prepare the pepper masala spices in a hot fry pan, then keep aside in a bowl to cool before grinding to a fine powder.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 until tomatoes are mashed and thickish. Add in the coriander powder and cook for a few more minutes until well mixed into the masala.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Adjust salt to taste, add a squeeze of lime or lemon juice. Garnish with fresh coriander and more sliced green chillies to taste.
  9. Serve it with rice congee.