Chicken Chettinad

Ingredients:
1. 1kg (or 2 lbs) Chicken breast, cut into inch sized pieces

For the masala:
2. 6-8 no. Whole red chilies
3. 1/2 Grated coconut (or a cup of shredded/dried coconut from the Indian store)
4. 2 tsp Poppy seeds (that’s khus-khus, just in case)
5. 1 tsp Coriander seeds
6. 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
7. 3-4 cloves Green cardamom
8. 2-3 pieces cloves (cloves of cloves, hehe!)
9. 1″ stick Cinnamon
10. A half star anise
11. 1 tsp Fennel seeds (saunf, for those who don’t know)
12. 2 tsp Ginger, chopped/grated
13. 2 tsp Garlic, chopped/minced

For the paste:
14. 1 large onion, finely chopped
15. 10-12 curry leaves
16. 3-4 medium sized tomatoes, chopped (or alternately, a can of diced tomatoes)
17. 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
18. 1 tsp Red chili powder
19. Juice of 1 Lemon
20. Salt to taste
21. Oil, for cooking

22. Fresh coriander, finely chopped, to garnish.

Method:
1. Chop the onions and the tomatoes separately.
2. Heat some oil and roast the whole red chilies, grated coconut, poppy seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and fennel seeds.
3. Add the grated/minced ginger and garlic to this and saute for a while.
4. Grind this mixture to a paste. Please note, I now use a khal-batta (mortar and pestle) for this. *big wide grin*
5. Heat some more oil and fry the onions until golden brown. Add curry leaves and the ground paste and saute for a few minutes.
6. Add the tomatoes, red chili powder and turmeric powder and let this cook for a few minutes.
7. Now add the chicken and let it cook for a few more minutes. Add some lemon jucie and a little bit of water, depending on how well the chicken has cooked and how thick the curry is getting (or how thick you want it to get, really.)
8. Let the curry simmer until the chicken is completely cooked.
9. Garnish with some corainder and serve with rice or Indian flat bread (yeah… yeah…)

Notes:
1. I’ve quite taken to used canned tomatoes. I buy a can every time I need to make curry. I use fresh tomatoes for salads and bruschetta and anda bhurji and a lot of other stuff, not to worry. Why I use canned tomatoes? For one, they don’t have preservative. The diced ones are usually ‘preserved’ in water or citric acid. Which is fine. There aren’t any fancy long names of chemical compounds in the list of ingredients. I quite like that. Two, it saves me so much effort chopping. Especially if the tomatoes had been kept a few days and kinda got all squishy! Uh! Three, the redness it adds to the curry! Wow! So restaurant-like! Else, I usually end up adding a pinch of tandoori masala because my tomatoes impart a dirty, dull orange colour to my curries, instead of a beautiful red hue.
2. Ooooh! I got mum to send me a brass khal-batta. How adorable, no! G brought it along with him when he flew back from India in January. 🙂 He was also held up at the security check and the security guard said to him (apparently), “Humein pata hai ki yeh weapon nahi hai. But lagta toh hammer jaise hai na. Phit bhi, hum logon ka chehra aur bartaav dekhke decide karte hain, ki aisi cheezon ko allow karna hai ya nahi.” My hero! *swoons* Errrm. That was G I was talking about. Not the Sardarji Uncle at the security.
3. The recipe is tedious. But it’s delicious. And I made enought to last me three dinners. I’m a happy chettinad-ed soul.

4. I have included a recipe for naan in another post.
5. G was in India, in Goa, if I remember right. He was having his bit of fun. So I had my share of it too. Some really yummy Indian food. And no, my house was not smelling of masala after I was done. God promise!
6. Other stuff I did after I had cooked dinner: had an entire bottle of Riesling in under an hour… skyped with the Shazmeister… skyped with my parents and my grandparents and show the family around the apartment… 4 times… tweeted like a bitch on heat (yes, that’s a phrase very very close to my heart)… drunk (read: happy-high) dialled somebody in Arizona… jumped around the apartment listening to Edward Maya… passed out an extremely content soul, not drunk (obviously, I must mention that!)
7. Riesling SUCKS!!!

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