Chicken Chettinad Masala is a traditional style spicy chicken curry. This chicken Chettinad recipe comes from the land of Chettiyars, the trading community from Tamil Nadu. It has a unique flavor profile, bursting with spiciness of goontur chillies, whole peppercorns, and plenty of red onion.
The Chettinad Cuisine
In ancient times, the Chettiyars were a wealthy trading community hailing from Tamil Nadu region in India. They were mainly the whole spice traders.
Hence, the heavy influence of spices can be seen in Chettinad Cuisine.
Chicken Chettinad Pepper Masala is the flag bearer of the Chettinad Cuisine and to a degree, South Indian food recipes.
If there is one dish that food lovers know of Chettinad Cuisine, Chicken Chettinad Pepper Masala is it!
The process of making Chicken Chettinad is very similar to other Indian chicken curries – there is a lot of masala, frying, and patience involved. But the taste and aroma of Chicken Chettinad leave a long-lasting impression on culinary senses.
The Chettinad Masala Paste
What makes this chicken curry special is the flavorsome, homemade Chettinad Masala made from scratch.
The key ingredients of Chettinad Masala are – fennel seeds, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, dry red chilies, coriander seeds, ginger, and garlic.
Dry roast the spices for a few minutes, and grind to a coarse paste.
It is a versatile masala paste that I use to make Chettinad Prawn Curry, Egg Curry, or a rich mutton curry in Chettinad style.
Is this curry spicy?
The answer is YES! The Chettinad Chicken Masala is a spicy curry. If your palate is not accustomed to spices, I would say proceed with caution.
However, at home, you can tone down the spiciness by reducing the number of red chilies and peppercorns in the curry paste.
Also, a splash of coconut milk in the curry can help to calm down the heat of the spices.
Best Cut Of Chicken
To make Chettinad chicken curry, the best choice would be bone-in meat pieces. The chicken bones lend a delicious flavor to the curry.
You can use a combination of bone-in chicken thigh, and the leg piece.
This curry can be made with boneless, skinless chicken pieces as well. Try to use boneless chicken thighs as they are much juicier and don’t get dry, unlike chicken breast.
If you are using boneless chicken breast pieces then try not to use the frozen ones, and avoid over-cooking them.
Step-By-Step Chicken Chettinad
Start with making the Chettinad Masala Paste. It is a two-step easy method. Dry roast the spices, and then grind them.
The chicken does not require any marination for making Chettinad Curry.
Next, prepare onion and tomato masala by frying for the curry.
Add the Chettinad curry paste, chicken, salt, slow cook till meat is tender, and the Chicken Chettinad is ready!
I love to relish Chicken Chettinad Pepper Masala with tomato garlic rasam, parotta or dosa, and steamed white rice. This is my favorite ultimate comfort meal.
You can enjoy Chettinad Chicken with any other Indian bread such as whole wheat paratha, naan, or chapati as well.
More Chicken Recipes For You
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Chicken Chettinad Recipe
- Heavy Bottom Kadhai
- 500 gram chicken with bone, cut into curry size pieces
- 1 (an inch in size) piece of cinnamon
- 2 green cardamom
- 3 – 4 curry leaves
- 1 Cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 Cup tomato paste (grind 2 small-size tomato)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 4 tablespoon gingely oil/coconut oil/mustard oil
Ingredients For The Masala:
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
- 2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 4 dried red chilies, esp goondu milagai variety
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 4 garlic pods
- 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
Make Chettinad Masala:
- To prepare Chettinad Chicken, first clean, wash and pat dry the chicken pieces with a kitchen towel. Keep aside covered in a bowl.
- Dry roast fennel seeds, black pepper, cumin, red chilies, coriander seeds till fragrant and slightly darkened. Add ginger, garlic, and grind them in a mixer to a smooth paste using little water. Keep aside until required.
Prepare Chicken Chettinad Curry:
- Heat oil in a large kadhai over medium flame. Add the cinnamon, cardamom pods, curry leaves and saute for few seconds till fragrant. Add the chopped onion and saute over low heat till onion is light brown in color.
- Next add the tomato paste, salt, turmeric and fry the masala for 10 minutes or so over low heat. The indication of masala being ready is oil starts separating from it.
- Now add the Chettinad masala paste and stir to combine. Continue to saute the masala scraping the bottom of the kadhai, till the masala takes deep brown color and nicely roasted.
- At this stage add the chicken pieces, salt and stir coat the chicken pieces with the spice mixture. Fry the chicken pieces till they turn pale white in color. Do not add water.
- Cover and cook the chicken over low heat till it releases its juices and full cooked.
- Open the lid, check the chicken for doneness. At this stage, if you want to make gravy, add 1 cup of water or coconut milk, stir, and simmer the curry for 8 – 10 minutes.
- Serve Chicken Chettinad Masala with rice or parotta.
- To make Chettinad chicken curry, the best choice would be bone-in meat pieces. You can use a combination of bone-in chicken thigh, and the leg piece.
- Adjust the number of red chilies and peppercorns in the masala according to personal taste.
- Add coconut milk to flavor the curry and to balance the heat of the spices.
- You can store Chettinad Masala for a week in the refrigerator.
- If the goondu milagai variety of red chilli is not available use any variety of dry red chili.