Spicy, full of flavors, and hearty, Chicken Chettinad is a delicious chicken curry from the Chettinad region of South India. It can be made dry or with gravy. Here is how to make it.
If you like to try more South Indian Chicken recipes, there here are some more that you can make at home – Coconut Curry Chicken, Malabar Chicken Curry, Kerala Style Chicken Stew, Chettinad Pepper Chicken and Kori Rotti.
What is Chicken Chettinad?
Chicken Chettinad is a fiery hot chicken curry from the Chettinad region in Tamil Nadu state in India. This curry from South Indian cuisine is not only popular in India but is one of the most ordered chicken curries in restaurants all over the world.
Chicken Chettinad Curry gets its flavor from the freshly ground spices (Chettinad masala), which makes this dish just irresistible. Traditionally it is made using Gundu Chillies, Kalpasi (Stone Flower), and Indian shallots apart from a few other basic ingredients.
These 3 ingredients make this dish very unique and give it an earthy and robust flavor. But in case they are not accessible to you, I have mentioned some workaround in the post.
This Chettinad Chicken is,
- Spicy and Robust
- Easy to make
- A South Indian favorite
- Popular among restaurants
- Can be adapted according to your taste
Chicken – The key ingredient here is Chicken. High in protein, it is great to include in your everyday meals. Try to use chicken with bones to make this curry as the bones add a lot of flavors.
I used full chicken cut into pieces but you can use only legs or legs with thighs. It is marinated with vinegar and salt and kept aside for some time. If you are not a fan of bone-in chicken, you can use boneless chicken too.
Chettinad Masala – The ingredient that makes the onion tomato base of this dish different from others is the freshly grounded Chettinad masala, and fresh coconut. While the Chettinad masala gives it a hot and spicy flavor, fresh coconut adds a refreshing taste to it.
To make an authentic Chettinad Masala, you need 3 main ingredients, Gundu Chilies, Kalpasi (Stone Flower) and Indian shallots. Having said that, I didn’t had any of these when I made this curry and it still turned out fabulous.
The other ingredients needed to make the masala are curry leaves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and black peppercorn.
Coriander Leaves and Lime – End this chicken curry with these two ingredients, to add more freshness and taste to the curry.
Others – Apart from this you will need curry leaves, green chilies, ginger-garlic paste, and some basic spice powders such as turmeric powder, red chili powder, and salt.
How to make Chicken Chettinad?
Mix chicken with 1 tsp salt and vinegar and keep aside for ½ an hour.
In a pan, heat 2 tbsp oil.
When the oil is hot, add 2 sprigs of curry leaves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, black peppercorns, and 8 – 10 dry red chilies. If you have Gundu Chillies, use them. I used Kashmiri Red Chillies. If Kalpasi is available to use, use a big pinch at this stage.
Fry till slightly browned and a nice aroma starts coming. Add ½ cup of chopped onion and grated coconut and fry for 3-4 minutes.
Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for another 3-4 minutes.
Cool and grind the mixture in a grinder. Add water to grind the ingredients.
Smooth paste made.
Add 3 tbsp oil in a pan.
Add 2-3 sprigs of curry leaves and remaining onion. Use Indian shallots in place of onions if they are available to you.
Fry till onion is golden brown. Add green chili, turmeric powder, red chili powder, and salt.
Add tomato and the roasted and ground mixture.
Now add a cup of water and cook for a minute.
Add chicken and another cup of water and cover and cook till chicken is done.
Add lime juice and fresh coriander and cook for a minute. Serve hot with Naan.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use the same process and even make Mutton Chettinad, Prawns Chettinad, or Fish Chettinad. Just remember that all these three non-veg ingredients take different time to cook as compared to chicken, so keep an eye. If you overcook any of these, they might become rubbery and chewy.
Tofu or Paneer will also work great. Add them once the gravy is ready.
Chicken Chettinad can be easily made in an Instant Pot or an electric pressure cooker. Marinate the chicken with vinegar and salt and keep aside.
Press SAUTE and add oil in the pot.
Once the oil is hot, add 2 sprigs of curry leaves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, black peppercorns, and 8 – 10 dry red chilies and saute until lightly browned.
Add coconut, onion, and ginger garlic paste and saute for 4-5 minutes.
Make a paste of this masala using some water.
Add more oil in the pot. Add curry leaves and onion and fry until onions are browned.
Now add green chili, turmeric powder, red chili powder, and salt.
Add tomato and the roasted and ground mixture.
Now add water and bring the mixture to aboil.
Add the marinated chicken and close the lid of the pot.
Press CANCEL and then press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 10 minutes. If using boneless chicken, set the timer to 5 minutes.
Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid of the pot. Add lemon juice and fresh coriander and mix well.
Your Instant Pot Chettinad Chicken Curry is ready to serve.
Chicken Chettinad is traditionally served with rice, dosa or appam.
Chicken Chettinad will last in the fridge for about 2 days when stored in an airtight container. Reheat it in a pan or microwave, until nice and warm.
If you feel it has become a little dry, then add in a little water while reheating.
Pro Tips by Neha
Traditionally Gundu Chillies are used to make this curry. If they are not available, use any dry red chili that you have. I prefer to use Kashmiri Red Chilli as they are mild in taste and gives a nice fiery red color to the curry. If you want the curry to be milder, you can remove the seeds from the chilies.
In the authentic Chettinad Chicken Recipe, a spice called Kalpasi or Stone Flower is added. If it is available to you, do add a big pinch along with the other whole spices for a very earthy and unique flavor.
Use Indian Shallots in place or red onion if they are available to use for an authentic taste.
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Chicken Chettinad Recipe
- 1 kg Chicken (with bones)
- Salt to taste
- 3 tsp Vinegar
- 5 tbsp Oil
- 4-5 sprigs Curry leaves
- 3 tsp Coriander seeds
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 2 tsp Fennel seeds
- 2 tsp Poppy seeds
- 3-4 Cloves Garlic
- 1 inch Cinnamon
- 3-4 Cardamom Cardamom
- 1 tsp Black peppercorns
- 10-12 Dry red chilies
- 1 and ½ cup Onion (chopped)
- 1 cup Fresh coconut (grated)
- 1 tbsp Ginger garlic paste
- 3 – 4 Green chili (slit into half)
- ½ tsp Turmeric powder
- 2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder (Can alter according to your taste)
- 1 and ½ cup Tomatoes (chopped)
- 2 tbsp Lemon juice
- 3 tbsp Fresh coriander
- Mix chicken with 1 tsp salt and vinegar and keep aside for ½ an hour.
- In a pan, heat 2 tbsp oil.
- When the oil is hot, add 2 sprigs of curry leaves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, black peppercorns and 8 – 10 dry red chilies.
- Fry till slightly browned and a nice aroma starts coming.
- Add ½ cup of chopped onion and grated coconut and fry for 3-4 minutes.
- Add ginger garlic paste and fry for another 3-4 minutes.
- Cool and grind the mixture in a grinder to make a smooth paste. Add some water while grinding.
- Add 3 tbsp oil in a pan.
- Add 2-3 sprigs of curry leaves and remaining onion.
- Fry till onion is golden brown.
- Add green chilli, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt.
- Add tomato and fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the roasted and ground paste.
- Now add a cup of water and cook for a minute.
- Add chicken and another cup of water and cover and cook till chicken is done.
- Add lime juice and fresh coriander and cook for a minute.
- Serve hot with Naan.