Chicken chettinad gravy recipe – South India’s most flavorful dish made with chicken, fresh ground spices & herbs. Based on the authentic chettinad chicken recipe many modern versions have been derived, especially by the restaurateurs. Over the years, I got to taste a few which almost tasted same except the texture, color and the hint of spices.
The recipe shared here is the one I felt close to the restaurant style chettinad chicken gravy. After several trials I arrived at this and can say this is one of the best flavorful and delicious chicken gravy.
This recipe is roughly adapted from a cook book. To make chicken chettinad, a unique blend of spices is deep roasted and ground. This spice blend brings in a great essence to the dish.
There is also a chettinad chicken varuval recipe on the blog, which is a dry chettinad style chicken fry.
Preparation for chicken chettinad
1. On a low flame dry roast coriander and dried red chilies first. When you smell the coriander seeds good, then add saunf, cumin, pepper corn, cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon.
2. When they begin to smell good, add poppy seeds or 8 whole cashew nuts or roasted gram. When the poppy seeds turn crisp. Transfer to a plate.
3. Roast coconut until it smells good. Cool all of these and blend to a smooth paste. Add water just as needed. Transfer the paste to a bowl.
4. In the same blender, add tomatoes and puree. This is optional and can use tomatoes as such chopped finely.
5. Marinate chicken with turmeric, chilli powder, curd, ginger garlic paste and salt.
How to make chicken chettinad
6. Heat a pan with oil and bay leaf. Add onions and fry till transparent to golden. Golden gives a good taste to the gravy, since i cooked in a stainless steel pan, they don’t turn to golden.
7. Add chicken and fry for about 4 to 5 minutes. The raw smell of the ginger garlic has to go away.
8. Add tomatoes.
9. I used red chili powder just for the color. Add the tomato puree, red chili powder, salt and turmeric as well.
10. On a medium flame, fry till the mixture begins to leave oil. This takes about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chettinad masala paste and curry leaves. I did not use red chilies to make my chettinad masala since my kids cannot eat hot foods. Saute again for 2 to 3 minutes.
11. Add water as needed.
12. Cook covered till the chicken is fully cooked, soft and tender. I garnished with fried curry leaves.
Serve chicken chettinad with rice or phulka.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 500 grams chicken (or ½ kg) (bone-in is best)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 cup onions (chopped finely, 1 large onion)
- 1 to 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1½ cups tomatoes (finely chopped or pureed, 2 medium)
- 1 bay leaf
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon curd or yogurt (helps to keep the chicken soft)
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste (or 4 garlic cloves + 1 inch ginger)
- ½ teaspoon Salt
Chettinad masala (roast and grind)
- 1 tablespoon Poppy seeds (or 8 whole cashew nuts or 1 tbsp roasted chana dal)
- ¼ cup coconut (grated, fresh or frozen)
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¾ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon pepper corn
- 4 to 5 dried red chilies (refer notes , substitute – 1 tsp red chili powder)
- 3 green cardamoms (elaichi)
- 4 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- Add chicken, turmeric, chili powder, curd,salt and ginger garlic paste to a bowl. Marinate the chicken and set aside.
- On a low flame, dry roast coriander seeds and red chilies. When the coriander seeds begin to smell good, add cardamoms, jeera, fennel seeds, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves. Roast till cloves smell good & the spices turn slightly dark but not burnt.
- Next add cashews or poppy seeds. Quickly toss. Make sure not to burn the masala. You can also set these aside to a plate before adding coconut.
- Add coconut and fry until the coconut smells good.
- Cool all these. Add them to a blender jar and pour little water. Make a smooth paste, adding more water as required. Set aside the masala in a small bowl.
- In the same jar, grind tomatoes to smooth puree. You can also use chopped tomatoes.
How to Make Chicken Chettinad
- Heat oil in a pan, add bay leaf and onions. Fry till the onions turn translucent to golden.
- Transfer the chicken and fry for at least 4 to 5 mins on a medium high heat.
- Add tomatoes, turmeric, salt and chili powder (if using). Mix well and fry till the oil begins to separate.
- Then add the ground paste and curry leaves. Fry for 2 to 3 mins.
- Pour 1 ¼ cup water. I use hot water. Using cold water sometimes toughens the chicken. Cover and cook till the chicken is fully cooked. It should be fork tender and soft.
- The gravy becomes thick by then. If not cook without a lid and evaporate some water. If your gravy is too thick, pour more hot water. Cook till the chicken gravy thickens and reaches the right curry consistency. Optionally garnish with fried curry leaves.
- Serve chicken chettinad gravy with rice or phulka.
- Authentic Chettinad chicken looks dark brown in color and is just normal due to the deep roasting of spices. The curry in my pictures looks lighter in color since I did not use red chilies to make the chettinad masala.
- Dried red chilies can sometimes make or break the dish. If you don’t have an idea of how spicy your chilies are, simply use red chilli powder. I often find dried red chilies to be too spicy and not kids friendly, so prefer to use red chili powder.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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