Spicy Chicken Chettinad

by Leena Kohli (@leenakohli)
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
2hr 30min

Discover the bold flavours of Chettinad with this authentic and easy-to-make chicken recipe. Freshly ground spices and yogurt create a delicious balance of flavours that will delight your taste buds. Perfectly paired with steamed rice or Indian bread, this dish is sure to be hit with your family and friends. Try it out today and experience the taste of Chettinad in your kitchen!


3 Servings
  • 500g
    Chicken (curry cut)

Dry Roasting & Chettinad Paste

  • 1
    Star Anise
  • 3
    Green Cardamom
  • 2
    Cinnamon Stick (small pieces)
  • 2
    Green Chilli
  • 3
  • 3
    Dry Red Chilli (divided)
  • 1tsp
    Black Peppercorns
  • 1tbsp
    Coriander Seeds
  • 1/2tbsp
    Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2tbsp
    Fennel Seeds
  • 1/2tsp
    Poppy Seeds (Khas Khas)
  • 1tsp
    Black Mustard Seeds
  • 3tbsp
    Desiccated Coconut
  • 1tsp
    Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder
  • 1/2tbsp
    Ginger (chopped/paste)
  • 1/2tbsp
    Garlic (chopped/paste)
  • 3tbsp
  • 2tbsp
    Tamarind Paste
  • 1/2tsp
    Salt (as per taste)

For Gravy

  • 4tbsp
  • 1/2tsp
    Black Mustard Seeds
  • Curry Leaves (1-2 sprigs
  • 2
    Onion (medium-sized)(finely chopped/ground)
  • 3
    Tomatoes (finely chopped/ground)
  • 1tsp
  • 4cup
  • 1tsp
    Lemon Juice (optional)

For Tempering

  • 1tbsp
  • 1/4tsp
    Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder
  • Coriander Leaves (for garnishing)


For Dry Roasting & Chettinad Paste:

  1. Heat a pan on medium flame and dry roast the star anise, green cardamoms, cinnamon stick, cloves, 2 dry red chillies.

  2. Add black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds and mustard seeds, and stir for 2-3 minutes until they change their colour and a pleasant aroma arises.

  3. Keep stirring to avoid burning the spices.

  4. Turn off the flame, transfer the roasted spices to a plate, and let it cool.

  5. Coarsely grind the roasted spices in a mixer.

  6. Add desiccated coconut, kashmiri red chilli, ginger, garlic cloves, green chilli, curd, tamarind paste and salt to the ground spices, and blend to make a fine paste.

  7. Marinate the chicken pieces with the blended paste. Make sure they should be coated evenly with the paste.

  8. Cover the bowl with a cling film or a plate and refrigerate the marinated chicken for at least an hour or overnight for the chicken to absorb more flavour.

For Gravy

  1. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan or wok on medium flame. Add mustard seeds and let them crackle. Add two dry red chillies and the curry leaves and stir for a few seconds.

  2. Add chopped onions, stir and cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Stir occasionally.

  3. Add tomatoes, turmeric and salt and cook until tomatoes are soft and the oil starts to separate. Stir occasionally in intervals. Keep adding a small amount of water while cooking, as this helps to keep the masala moist and prevent it from sticking to the bottom.

  4. Add the marinated chicken to the pan and cook on high flame for 2-3 minutes.

    Spicy-Chicken-Chettinad-Marinated-Chicken-Added-With-Ground Vegetables.jpg
  5. Add water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the flame from low to medium and cook for 20 -30 minutes or until chicken is tender and oil releases to the surface. Stir occasionally.

  6. Check the seasoning and adjust it to taste.

  7. Add lemon juice and mix nicely for a few seconds.

For Tempering

  1. Heat ghee in a small frying pan on medium flame.

  2. Turn off the flame and add kashmiri red chilli powder.

  3. Pour the tempering on the cooked chicken and mix.

  4. Serve hot with steamed rice, roti or naan.

Tips & Tricks

  1. Marinating the chicken overnight will help to absorb more flavours of the spices and will have a more intense aroma.

  2. You can adjust the heat level of the dish by reducing or increasing the number of dry red and green chillies used in the recipe.

  3. Adding fresh curry leaves gives a pleasant aroma to the dish.

  4. You can use freshly scraped coconut instead of desiccated coconut to enhance the dish's overall taste.

  5. You can add more water as required for the gravy.

Leena Kohli
Recipe by

Leena Kohli


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