Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Chettinad Chicken

New favourite chicken curry alert! Well it was at the time of cooking and eating it anyway, but honestly that was so long ago now it may well have changed a few times.

I’d not used Olive magazine as a source for recipes for some time, although I’m not sure why. There were a few in the most reason issue (at time of cooking - I’ve now actually cancelled my subscription as nothing seemed to be particularly interesting or challenging to me anymore) that took my eye though and this is one of those.

Chettinad cuisine is the cuisine of the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu state in South India. The Chettiar community, who are a majority in this region, are a very successful trading community.

The dishes are famous for their use of a variety of spices used in preparing mainly non-vegetarian (but generally no beef or pork) food. The dishes are hot and pungent with fresh ground masalas that often contain fennel seeds, star anise, cinnamon and whole red chillies. As such Chettinad cuisine is apparently one of the spiciest and the most aromatic in India and the Chettinads (the word "Chettinad" means a social caste specialising in the preparation of food) are considered master chefs.

Chettinad Chicken is a fiery curry but I see no reason why you can't reduce the chillies to suit your own taste - which I did to a certain extent. I also did a bit of research into Chettinad Chicken and decided that the recipe needed a little tampering - poppy seeds for instance are mentioned in pretty much every recipe I looked at bar the Olive one. With this in mind I wrote them into my curry only to realise that on this front the spice store cupboard was bare. Boo.

I did add a tomato, red chilli powder, a clove and some lemon juice but the next time I cook this, and there will be a next time, I’ll definitely add a teaspoon of poppy seeds to the spice mix.

Chettinad Chicken
serves 2

1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
250g skinless chicken thigh fillets, quartered
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 small/medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, seeded and sliced
1 plum tomato, roughly chopped
1 tsp tomato purée
1 tbsp unsweetened dessicated coconut, toasted
½ cinnamon stick
½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
150ml chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 tbsp lemon juice
For the dry spice mix
½ tsp each of fennel seeds, cumin seeds & coriander seeds
1 clove
1 cardamom pod
½ dried long red chilli
½ star anise

Mix the ginger and garlic pastes with the turmeric and a splash of water in a bowl. Add the chicken and stir well to coat then set aside for at least 30 minutes.

Toast the spice mix in a dry frying pan then grind in a spice grinder or using a pestle & mortar and set aside.

Heat the oil in a sauté or frying pan and add the onion and sliced red chilli. Season with salt and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until softened and starting to brown.

Add the chicken and marinade, spice mix & chilli powder, tomato and purée, coconut and cinnamon stick and fry for 5-10 minutes.

Pour in the stock and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Stir through the lemon juice and serve immediately over rice, or with a naan bread if that’s your thing.

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