Method Extremely aromatic, intensely spicy in flavour yet delicious, as the name suggests, Chettinadu chicken is the key dish of the Chettinadu community in Tamil Nadu. The dish shot to fame because of its hot and spicy flavour. Another important aspect of the dish is its freshly ground masala or spice mix in which the meat is cooked. The masala is prepared mainly for meat dishes and it`s important that they are fresh as that`s what adds to the aroma.
The authentic Chettinadu style chicken is garnished or topped with sliced boiled eggs which completes the dish.
The base ingredients can be used to prepare crabs, prawns, chicken and lamb. Since people in the region do not eat beef and pork, this dish has least been tried out with the two types of meat. Chettinadu chicken tastes extraordinarily delicious with an assortment of rice based breakfast dishes like appam (hoppers), idiyappam (string hopper) and dosa. The dish represents the true spices of India which are mainly grown in the region unlike the north Indian cuisines that rich and scrumptious in their own ways but are milder in taste. Chettinadu chicken is fiery and not for the faint-hearted; but once in a while one should definitely try out the dish - it is completely worth it!
In a pan roast the grated coconut, poppy, cumin & fennel seed, cinnamon stick, cardomom, cloves, peppercorns, star anise, whole red chillies along with thick tamarind pulp. Blend all these ingredients with ginger and garlic in a blender for 15-20 minutes to get a fine paste. This is the masala for Chettinad style chicken.
In a heavy bottom wok add oil and heat.
To it add dry red chillies and curry leaves and temper.
To the tempered ingredients add sliced onion and garlic and saute.
Add the prepared masala and cook till the raw smell is gone.
Add the tomato and cook till well mashed along with the turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and salt
Add the cleaned chicken pieces to the prepared mix and stir well till the spices are well incorporated.
Add water and lemon juice and let it simmer till tender
Once done garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with accompaniments of your choice.
1) The base ingredients can be used to prepare sun-dried meat, dry fish and dried vegetables also
2) The spice base for chettinadu dishes also calls for dried flowers `Maratti mokku` and `kalpasi`, however due to the level of difficulty to find them in stores, they can be omitted. The above recipe does not include the two.