Spicy Chicken Curry

Chettinad Chicken curry is a spicy, fiery dish from the Chettinad region of Tamilnadu. The dishes in Chettinad cuisine are made with freshly ground spices and are hot and pungent. This recipe is adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe of Chicken Chettinad gravy. However I have made minor changes  in the recipe after experimenting with this dish a couple of times. I have made a generous use of curry leaves in this recipe. Curry leaves impart a distinct aroma and flavour to this recipe.


For  marinating chicken
1 kg chicken (curry cut)

1 tsp turmeric powder
a tsp of red chilly powder
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt as per taste

For Chettinad masala
1 tsp oil

4 tsp coriander seeds (dhaniya)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
3 to 4 cloves (lavang)
½ tsp black pepper (kali mirch)
1 star anise (chakra phool)
4 to 6 dry red chillies
2 cardamom (elaichi)
½ cup scraped coconut
15 to 20 curry leaves
1 tsp turmeric powder

Additional ingredients
2 tbsp oil

2 bay leaves (tej patta)
15 to 20 curry leaves
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
½ inch ginger (chopped)
3 onions (chopped)
2 tomatoes (chopped)
Salt as per taste
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh coriander (chopped)


  • Wash and clean the chicken.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine chicken pieces, turmeric powder, red chilly powder, ginger garlic paste, lemon juice and salt.  
  • Mix well and keep this aside for 30 minutes.
  • Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and add coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cloves, black pepper, star anise,  dry red chillies, cardamom and roast for around 5 minutes on low flame.
  • Add the scraped coconut, curry leaves and roast further for 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Blend the roasted ingredients alongwith 1 tsp turmeric powder to a fine paste.  Keep this aside.
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan.
  • Add bay leaves, curry leaves, chopped garlic, chopped ginger and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Next add the chopped onions and cook till the onions turn brown, stirring intermittently.
  • Further, add chopped tomatoes and saute till the onions turn soft.
  • Add the marinated chicken and mix.
  • Cook covered for 8 to 10 minutes. 
  • Now, add the ground Chettinad masala.
  • Add half a cup of water and mix well.
  • Add salt and cook till you see bubbles appearing on the gravy.
  • At this stage, stir in a teaspoon of sugar and cook for 2 more minutes.  
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  • Serve with rotis, parathas, appam or rice.

Note: Spice level can be reduced as per your taste by reducing the amount of red chillies. Another method is to remove the chilly seeds from few chillies so that the spice level is reduced but the red colour of the gravy is maintained.


You can also check out other chicken recipes on this blog :  Healthy Butter Chicken, Kerala style chicken curry, Mangalorean Chicken sukka, Mangalorean Kori Rotti, Methi Murg, Chicken Kheema, Chicken Stir Fry 





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