I don’t experiment a lot with family recipes. I pretty much follow a step-by-step written formula. Recreating childhood memories is an experience quite special to me. Especially when being this far away, food makes me feel at home and close to family back home.
I come from a family of great cooks. They made some delicious food and some cringe-worthy exotic food too. Curries were almost non-experimental; they cooked what the family liked and that was that. As a result, a couple of next generation home cooks ventured and branched out into different methods of cooking and different cuisines, although the food made on Sundays were some of the best. We learnt the art of making Dum Aloo(potatoes in creamy sauce), chicken tikka masala(needs no intro), hariyali chicken(green curry chicken), aloo posto(Potato dry-bengali cuisne)and many more.
South Indian Curries are always close to my heart though. South India offers a variety of quite spicy curries. The spices are pretty similar in a lot of the curries, just vary a slight bit. But, to my amazement a simple fennel can change the whole flavor of the curry or a few curry leaves. Most of the time a chicken, mutton or even a fish curry is a slow cooked one. This one comes from a place called Chettinad. The local cuisine is simply one of the the most spiciest I’ve ever tried, Chettinad Cuisine.
The spices are slowly roasted and ground up. It’s vital to use fresh ginger, fresh garlic, fresh grated coconut. There’s no shortcut to this curry or any substitutions. The color and the texture will wow you just like they did to me.
Just have a few glasses of water to soothe your burning throat.. ;). If you feel ambitious, you could increase or reduce the number of red chilies.
- 3 lbs whole chicken cut to large pieces
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 large onions diced
- 10-12 curry leaves
- 2 large tomatoes diced
- 2 tsp garlic paste
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- 1-2 tsp salt or according to your taste.
- 3 tbsp whole pepper corn
- 10 whole red chillies(I used kashmiri chilly for color and spice)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp fennel
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp khus khus
- ½ inch cinnamon
- 4 cardamom
- 3 cloves
- 3 tbsp fresh coconut or frozen
- ½ cup water to grind or you can use coconut water
- 1- 2 cups of water for the curry
- Coriander to garnish
- Wash and pat dry the chicken very well. Add turmeric powder and keep aside.
- Dry roast the spices for the Spice paste EXCEPT for the coconut. Use low heat to dry roast it. Making sure not to burn the spices. Take it off the stove and add the coconut and let cool.
- Use a blender to make a paste. Use some water to make a smooth paste. Don't make it too watery.
- In a heavy bottomed pan, add 3 tbsp of vegetable oil, the onion and curry leaves and fry it on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes or until lightly brown. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for a minute.
- Add the chicken pieces and fry for 2 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and fry for another 3 minutes till the tomatoes have disintegrated.
- Now add the paste and fry the chicken in the paste for 5-7 minutes. Let the chicken be coated in the paste and paste would lose its raw smell.
- Then add 1 cup of water, mix well, cover and cook till the chicken is cooked. Cook on medium flame and let the curry cook slowly.
- Turn off the heat and let sit for an hour or two. If you want the curry to be a bit on the drier side, don't add a lot of water and you will have DRY CHETTINAD Curry.
You can adjust, add little less or more of the pepper and chillies. But, do not omit any of the spices unless you are allergic to it. It will change the flavor.
Add any kind of dried chillies you want. I use kashmiri chillies because it gives a good red color.