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Chicken Chettinad

It is said in South India, one is lucky to eat like a Chettiar. Chettinad is a small village in Tamil Nadu. On January 7, 2016, The New York Times came out with a list of 52 Places to go in 2016, and the only city in India to feature on that list is Tamil Nadu at 24.

Chettinad cuisine – spicy, simple and very traditional. It is a blend of well balanced flavours. Chettinad cuisine has the distinct aroma of freshly ground Indian spices like cummin, fennel, fenugreek, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, bayleaf etc.

As a family we love trying out new restaurants, different cuisines. In the month of August we drove down to Chettinad – six hours  from Chennai. A short memorable trip with glorious mansions and beautiful chettinad cotten sarees. We stayed at Saratha Vilas – a hundred year old mansion rented out by two Frenchmen  who have now converted it into a beautiful boutique hotel. Coming to the food part of this trip, except for breakfast  which was included in the package, we had all our meals at the local mess – like the famous Priya mess and Friends mess. The food – just awesome – fresh, home cooked spicy  food  served on a banana leaf and  eaten with one’s hands. The aromatic flavour that comes through each mouthful – a blend of pepper and Garam masala. Just so good. Finally you finish with a glass of buttermilk. Chicken, fish, prawns, quail, mutton, crab – dry and gravy – all so freshly prepared in huge earthenware pots – ready to serve . 

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Chicken Chettinad is a signature dish of Chettinad cuisine 


  • Chicken-1 kg
  • Onions minced-5
  • Tomatoes minced- 5
  • Ginger-garlic paste-2tbsp

To roast and powder:

  • Cinnamon -2
  • Cloves-2
  • Peppercorns-2 tsp
  • Cummin seed-1 tsp
  • Saunf-1/2 tsp
  • Nutmeg-1
  • Coconut – 3 tbsp
  • Kashmiri chilli powder-1 tbsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder-1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves -2-3 sprigs -lightly roasted and fried in a little oil and powdered


  • In oil, fry minced onions till golden brown.
  • Add minced tomatoes and fry well – till the tomatoes are cooked.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and fry well.
  • Add the powdered whole spices (cinnamon – coconut) and fry well – a little water can be added.
  • Add all the powders and fry well. Keep covered on a low flame till oil floats on top. Add salt to taste
  • Add chicken, mix thoroughly and cook on a high flame for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add a cup of water and simmer till chicken is well done.
  • Just before serving,  powder the fried curry leaves with your fingertips and sprinkle on top.

Chefs tips:

  • The minced onions have to be golden brown, the colour of the dish depends on the colour of the fried onions.
  • The tomato- onion mixture has to be smooth, that means the tomatoes have to be well cooked.
  • Minimum water should be added to retain the flavour of the powdered spices.
  • If you want the dish to be absolutely dry you could put it on dum and let the liquid evaporate slowly.
  • Cooking this particular dish in an earthenware pot would add on to the flavour of the dish.
  • This serves 6-8 .

This dish is so flavoursome, its  not funny!!!

Till my next post



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