chicken chettinad

Chicken chettinad gravy recipe

Updated: August 11, 2022, By Swasthi, Comments, Jump to Recipe

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.

chicken chettinad

Chicken chettinad is one of the most flavorful chicken dishes from the South Indian cuisine. It is said to be the most ordered in the Indian restaurants.

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.

More similar chicken gravy recipes
Simple chicken curry
Andhra chicken
Kerala chicken

You can serve this with ghee rice, simple jeera rice, mint or pudina pulao.

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.

frying onions in pan

7. Add chicken and fry for about 4 to 5 minutes. The raw smell of the ginger garlic has to go away.

addition of marinade to pan for chettinad chicken

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.

addition of tomato puree

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.

addition of ground spice paste for chettinad chicken curry recipe

11. Add water as needed.

addition of water to make gravy

12. Cook covered till the chicken is fully cooked, soft and tender. I garnished with fried curry leaves.

garnished with curry leaves chettinad chicken curry

Serve chicken chettinad with rice or phulka.

chicken chettinad

Related Recipes

Chicken chettinad

4.97 from 216 votes
Simple chicken gravy from South India's popular chettinad cuisine. Cooked in flavorful , freshly ground mixture of spices
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Servings3 people

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
  • cups tomatoes (finely chopped or pureed, 2 medium)
  • 1 bay leaf


  • 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.


  1. 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. 
  2. 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)

Nutrition Facts
Chicken chettinad
Amount Per Serving (200 g)
Calories 570 Calories from Fat 378
% Daily Value*
Fat 42g65%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Cholesterol 125mg42%
Sodium 136mg6%
Potassium 657mg19%
Carbohydrates 13g4%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 34g68%
Vitamin A 985IU20%
Vitamin C 17mg21%
Calcium 140mg14%
Iron 3.5mg19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

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Chicken chettinad gravy recipe

About Swasthi

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. More about me

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5 stars
I made this recipe and it was so delicious!

5 stars
Excellent recipe thank you

Hello Swasthi, can I use dried shredded or desiccated coconut instead of fresh or frozen? If yes, use the same quantity? Thank you.

Thank you. I already use a number of your recipes and I want to try this one.

5 stars
Hello Swasthi. This recipe sounds perfect. I am going to make it. I sm also making Dosa. My family lives Chettinad chicken curry & Dosa. Thanks for sharing. Would like to follow more recipes thanks Again

5 stars
Can you store the final cooked chicken for next day use

5 stars
I had this dish at the local Indian Restaurant last week. This recipe came pretty close to what I had, thank you. Amazingly I had all the ingredients, except the poppy seeds. I think I should have had more salt. I also love that it is only 45 minutes to make.

5 stars
Hello, I am going to make this next week as part of a larger menu and wanted to know how far in advance I can make the masala part (roasting the spices etc)
Thank you!

Thank you for replying – that’s great to know! Sorry but another question – I can’t see how long you marinade the chicken for – I think I must have missed that bit – are you please able to advise? Thank you!

That’s brilliant! So grateful for your reply! Thank you

Aroma is that good Neighbours are knocking on the door.

5 stars
My go to recipe for chettinad

Can I get exact measurements for the recipe. Eg how much chicken to use. How many onions and how many tomatoes to be used.

5 stars
One of the best chicken gravies! So flavorful and authentic!

5 stars
Tried it out today, it was amazing

Hello Swasthi, I would like to try this recipe. I have a question. I am in the US and Onion and tomatoes size vary quite a bit. Can you share how many grams of tomatoes and onions to add in this recipe? or you can also tell me how many cups if that is easier. Thank you.

Thank you for your quick response.

5 stars
Thank you.

Hi Swati….what should I use for getting best and authentic taste ..poppy seeds, cashew or roasted gram? I have all three. Want to use the one that gives beat taste…please advise

5 stars
Amazing recipe. Thank you so much.

5 stars
Hi swasti,

Am planning to make this 3x. The original recipe turned awesome. But i wanted to know what needs to lessened and how much in roasted masala when we use 3x chicken. I assume some of the ingredients will change the taste if i just add them 3x?

5 stars
Thanks a lot for the fast reply. Gonna try it today afternoon ?

5 stars
Swasthi I like your transparent guidance. Rare to find.

hi Swasthi, going to make this curry tomorrow. qq – what oil should i use?

5 stars
I have a few questions. What kind of red chiles did you use and what color poppy seeds did you use? I would be very grateful if you could let me know!

5 stars
Sorry I meant what is normally used! One last thing, should the chilies be dried or fresh?

5 stars
Okay! Thank you so much!

5 stars
It was a pleasure making this recipe! I will continue to look through your recipes for dishes to cook. Thank you for sharing with us!

5 stars
Hi swasthi,
When you triple the recipe , do you triple the ingredients too. If we add 3 inch cinnamon or 12 cloves will it be too much . Please suggest. Thank you