A good home-style Indian curry is a wonderful thing. Chettinad chicken curry is a South Indian curry rich that hits all the right notes. Coconut milk, spices, chili and curry leaves come together to make a complex, satisfying meal. Like your mom used to make. Well, like my mom used to make anyway.
The technique is very different from restaurant style curries. Thinly sliced onions replace the curry base. The key in this style curry is to take your time cooking the onions. Really take your time. Think French onion soup. Twenty minutes or more. The onions give the curry it’s body. It may seem like a lot of onions but they melt down to nothing.
After that it comes together quickly. Cook the spices. Add the coconut milk and tomatoes. Slide in the chicken. You don’t even need to brown the chicken. Cover and let simmer until the chicken is done. Serve Chettinad chicken curry with rice and a nice tarka dhal or chana masala.
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 3 Tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
- 3 Tbsp garlic ginger paste
- 20 fresh curry leaves (optional but very nice)
- 8 skinless chicken thighs (or whatever chicken pieces you want)
- 1 15 oz can coconut milk
- ½ cup diced tomatoes
- 4 tsp restaurant curry powder
- 1-2 tsp kashmiri chili powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper (or more if you like)
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon
- 1½ tsp salt
- Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
- Add the coconut or vegetable oil and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are a soft, light brown mess. Think French onion soup. You want these onions melting. This step takes a long time. 20 minutes or more.
- Add the garlic ginger paste and cook, stirring constantly until the spluttering stops (you will understand when you do it).
- Add the spice mix and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the coconut milk and tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
- Add the chicken and simmer until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160-170F, about 20-25 minutes. Use your instant read thermometer!
- Spoon off any excess fat (or don't if you are OK with a few calories - the fat is loaded with fat-soluble spices and flavour) and serve with rice.