Kerala chicken curry. Nadan kohzi. Never heard of it? Too bad. You are missing out.
Curry leaves. Green chilies. Tamarind. Coconut. And a bold spice mix. Kerala masala is what makes this one special.
Big flavours. If you are looking to give your tastebuds a kick nadan chicken curry is a good place to start.
Black pepper is the backbone of Kerala chicken curry
This isn’t a run of the mill curry. And the spicing isn’t run of the mill either. Kerala chicken curry is a little different.
It’s the pepper that does it. Think garam masala. Now think garam masala with bite. Wonderful, peppery bite. That’s what’s going on here.
This is a complex mix. Haunting flavours. Cardamom. Cinnamon. Star anise. Fennel seed. Warm spices. But with attitude. Black pepper attitude.
Toasting and grinding spices makes a difference
If you usually use pre-ground spices you are in for a treat. There’s a world of difference here.
Dry roasted whole spices. Freshly ground. That’s a whole different league of tasty.
Normally I’d tell you to toast up a batch of spices and grind to order. That’s usually good advice.
But this time it doesn’t work. It’s a small batch. There’s only one star anise and one piece of cinnamon. So you need to grind it all up to make sure you get the balance right.
Roasted and fresh ground spices. You’ve heard about it. Now try it. It’s amazing. More work. Sure. But this blog isn’t ever about easy. It’s about going for gold.
I can smell my spice mix from across the kitchen as I write this. When was the last time that happened to you?
Fresh curry leaves matter
I put curry leaves first up above. There’s a reason. Fresh curry leaves are pretty important in this dish. Really important actually.
Most herbs work dried. Different. But they still offer something. Curry leaves are not like that. Think of dried cilantro. There’s no taste at all. Dust.
Dried curry leaves are a bit better. Maybe a 1 out of 10 on the flavour scale. If I’m feeling generous.
Just can’t get fresh? Don’t let that stop you. It will still be good. Just won’t be the same. The spice mix is amazing. It will totally carry the dish. Not exactly what I intended. But tasty.
If you want the real deal though try to find fresh. Where I am it’s not that hard. You do have to work a bit. But they are around. Just have to hunt.
If you live in a town with a South Indian restaurant go ask them. They will have them. Tell them you are making nadan kohzi. They will be impressed. Beg. It’s worth it.
And when you get them, they freeze pretty well. Way better than dried…
Hotel style kerala chicken curry
Hotel style curry gravy is the other thing that’s different about this curry. You probably know traditional Indian cooking. That’s pretty much everything out there. All the books. The whole internet.
Traditional is fantastic. I love it. Grew up eating it. My comfort food is Bengali chicken curry and dal.
This is different. But similar. It’s a way to prep a foundational base gravy that lets you make curries on demand. You make a bunch of the hotel base gravy and portion it out. You can freeze it for later. Hotel style on demand.
Regular restaurant technique is conceptually similar. But it comes at it a totally different way. It’s good. It’s easy. And it works.
Hotel style is about taking it up another level. Restaurant style is what they serve in your local Indian joint. Hotel style is what they serve at the Indian restaurants you can’t get a reservation at.
You get all the depth of flavour from slowly browned onions like traditional Indian cooking. But with the lush sauce of restaurant style. The best of both worlds.
Hotel style Kerala chicken curry. Nadan kohzi. Doesn’t matter what you call it.
What matters is now you’ve heard of it. Try making it. I think you’ll like it. A lot.
kerala chicken curry – Indian hotel style
- 1 1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp cumin seed
- 2 tbsp coriander seed
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 1 inch cinnamon bark also known as cassia
- 1 star anise
- 8 cloves
- 8 green cardamom pods
The spice mix
- 2 1/2 tsp kerala masala – the ground spice. See above
- 1 1/2 tsp kashmiri chili powder
- 1/2 tsp kasoor methi – dried fenugreek leaves
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
kerala chicken curry
- 3 tbsp coconut oil – any neutral oil will also work or even 1/2 and 1/2 coconut and neutral oil
- 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste – recipe link below
- the spice mix from above
- 2-3 finger hot (jwala) green chilies cut into 1 inch pieces
- 5 fresh curry leaves
- 1 cup Indian hotel curry gravy – recipe link below. Don't worry if it seems too thick. The juices from the chicken will thin it out.
- 1/2 tsp tamarind paste – or tamarind pulp if you make it yourself. Tamarind concentrate is not the same thing as tamarind paste. Watch out for that.
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 4 pieces each
- 3 tbsp coconut milk
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 10 fresh curry leaves
- 1/2 shallot thinly sliced
Make the kerala masala
- Pre-heat a small skillet over medium-low heat.
- Add the spices to the skillet.
- Toast, shaking the pan, until they start to get fragrant. This should take a two or three minutes.
- Let cool and grind to a fine powder. I like a coffee grinder for this. The old ones with the blade work well. Bad for coffee. Great for spices.
- You won't need anywhere near all of it so transfer it to a jar with a tight fitting lid and store in a cool, dark place. Use it as a funky peppery garam masala if you like.
Do your prep
- Measure out your spice mix. Stem your curry leaves. Prep your chicken. Measure out a cup (237 ml) of Indian hotel curry gravy. Cut up your green chilies. Slice your shallot.
- Have your garlic ginger paste, tamarind and coconut milk handy. You're good to go now.
Make your tempering
- Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil over medium low heat in the same little pan you used to toast the spices.
- Add the shallots and cook until the shallots start to brown.
- Add the mustard seed and about 10 curry leaves and cook until the shallots are nicely brown. Set aside.
Make the kerala chicken curry
- Heat the oil in a medium sized frying pan until the oil just starts to shimmer.
- Stir in the garlic ginger paste. Gently fry until the garlic ginger paste stops sputtering. This can get a little messy.
- Turn your heat down to medium low and add your spice mix and the remaining 5 curry leaves. Cook for about 30 seconds. You want to fry your spices in the oil. Don't skimp on the oil. Bad things happen if the spices stick and burn.
- Add the green chilies. Cook another 30 seconds or so.
- Add the Indian hotel curry gravy. Stir it really well to get the oil to combine with the curry gravy. You want everything mixed together at this point. Bring to a simmer.
- Add the chicken thigh pieces in a single layer. Nestle them down into the sauce. Cover and cook about 5 minutes. Remove the cover, flip the chicken and recover. Cook until the chicken is done. Use an instant read thermometer if you have one. You are shooting for an internal temperature of 160F. It will get to 170F as the curry finishes cooking.
- Add the tamarind paste and coconut milk. Stir well to combine.
- Look at the consistency. If you are happy with it, cover and simmer for 2 minutes. If it's too thick, add a bit of water and stir to combine. If it's too thin don't cover it to let it reduce.
- While the curry is in it's final simmer, warm up the tempering over low heat.
- Transfer the kerala chicken curry to a serving dish and drizzle/sprinkle it with the tempering.
- Kerala chicken curry is great with rice and chapatis or parathas.
53 thoughts on “kerala chicken curry (nadan kohzi) – Indian hotel style”
Can I trouble you to start including proper weight measurements?
500g of Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs cut into 4 pieces?
I want to cook 1KG of your boneless Skinless Chicken thighs, but i’m afraid to guess the calculation after a few times I tried to scale your receipe.
Also, have you ever thought about using one of automatic calculators that you can embed in the webpage so people can automatically get the right measurements based on the quanitity they want to cook or ingredients they have?
I’ll try to remember but I don’t think it needs to be all that precise. To help steer you in the right direction I like about 300g of chicken for this recipe. Boneless, skinless thighs are around 100 g a piece where I am.
There is an automatic calculator BTW. If you click on the number of servings in the recipe card there is a popup slider that lets you adjust dynamically.
Hi Romain, just when I thought I had made the best hotel style recipes already… Turns out I was in for yet another absolutely awesome flavor bomb!! Genius stuff! I’m eternally grateful for this site. Thank you!!
This one is the ultimate flavour bomb. Not sure I will ever top it:-)
Boom! How much taste in that! I made this on your last nights recomendation and my mistake, I normally replace 1/3 of Kashmiri chili powder with cayenne. This curry didnt need it. It has great big bold taste. 1 serving eaten, 1 serving ready for the freezer, 4 portions of hotel gravy left in the freezer and Hotel Style Ceylon curry on the menu for tomorrow night.
Loving hotel style,
Two of my absolute favourites. Enjoy!!!
I made this tonight, wow this has to be up there with the most flavour I’ve tasted in a curry, good luck topping this
I’m working on it. But it isn’t easy. This one is going to be really hard to beat I think.
Love this curry the only problem I have is grinding the spices finely
Mine always seems a bit gritty
Can you recommend a grinder that will do the job
I use a Braun coffee grinder (one with a spinning blade) that I have had about 2.8 million years. Terrible coffee grinder but good spice grinder. I had a quick look around and it seems that there are dedicated electric spice/nut grinders available but I have never used one…
Delicious fantastic scrumptious totally morish
I’m a big fan of this one. Still wondering how I’m going to top it:-)
Had this for dinner tonight. Thought the spices gave it a lovely warm taste, and I particularly liked the tempered shallot on top. We had dried curry leaves – agree with your comments on them, and will probably leave them out next time. I also used a tad more coconut milk. A superb full-bodied peppery/warming/coconutty feast! Thanks Romain!
Delighted you enjoyed it. If you can ever get fresh curry leaves they are magic.
Can i dilute tamarind concentrate to use as a paste in this recipe.
I haven’t done any experiments to see how one could make tamarind concentrate work so I’m afraid I really don’t know.
Sorry I can’t be of more help.
Hi iv just about to make this can I ask how much of the spice I use in the recipe
The recipe calls for 2 1/2 teaspoons of the Kerala masala. You make your masala (bulk) and then you use that when you make up the spice mix for the actual curry.
This rates as one of the best flavours of any curry I’ve made. Great recipe mate.
Glad you liked it. I think it’s the best I’ve ever done as well!
I’m planning to make this in a few days. Can I bake the chicken in the oven with my clay pot ? If so, how long and what temp?
I’m sorry. I have absolutely no idea. This recipe was developed and tested using stovetop cooking technique. It’s a fun idea though. I will tinker with it when I have some time.
I can’t wait to try this. I once went into my local South Indian restaurant at *lunch time* to ask what they were cooking right then, as it smelled so good out on the street – it was the Kerala chicken curry! Thank you for all your research and recipes.
This one is one of my all time favourites. It has everything I love in one dish! Hope it lives up to the standard of your local South Indian restaurant.
Your blog has taught me a lot! The Nadan Khozi is probably my favorite, but just about every one of your recipes that I’ve tried has been wonderful. And it’s fabulous how quick and easy they are with the restaurant base or hotel gravy. Thanks for all you do!
You are very welcome! Glad you are enjoying the recipes. This one is way up on my list too. I love South Indian!
This is insanely delicious!
One quick comment: in the instructions you ask for garlic ginger paste and tamarind paste, however qualities aren’t listed in the ingredients. I guessed and this recipe is pure delight. Just wanted you to know.
I did a couple of these last night. A vegetable one for Mrs G and a chicken one for me. There’s a bit of prep to get this dish up and running but it’s worth all the effort. This is a stunning dish and I’ve made plenty of great tasting curries over the years. This is another level and I can’t wait to try the other hotel styles.
Thanks for this Romain.
You are very welcome. I’m glad to hear you are enjoying them!
Can I freeze this dish
I don’t personally freeze curries but I hear about a lot of people who do successfully so I would say yes.
Hi Romain another top notch curry we just love these hotel style curries.
Delighted to hear that! I’m loving them as well. I am truly amazed at how well the whole hotel thing works.
Thanks for your reply, Romain.
Perhaps the thermometer did touch the pan and I measured that instead! From now on, I’ll be using it with the tongs. Thanks again!
Once you get using it regularly you’ll wonder how you ever did without!
10 out of 5 stars for this one! Insanely delicious. I am just loving the hotel style recipes. A silly question if I may. I’m new to the testing with a thermometer. Do I stick it in the chicken while it’s in the pan cooking or do I take out a piece of chook and test it on a plate? Last night I used it directly in the pan and the temperature went through the roof!
Thank you for saying. I think this one may wind up my favourite of all time.
I am super happy to hear you have made the jump to instant read thermometers. They are a great tool. You are aiming for the middle. It can be a challenge in the pan to figure out where that is so I usually grab a piece with tongs so I can see what I’m doing – tongs with chicken in one hand, instant read in the other.
Doing it in the pan is tricky because if the tip touches the pan you wind up measuring the temp of your pan, not the chicken (and the temperature appears to go through the roof:-).
Use it for everything. Your mouth will thank you:-)
what do you do with the kerala Masala ,you say we wont use it all but
I cant find it in the cooking instructions
Ah I found it 🙂
Doug in Ozz Thanks for this recipe cooked it last night everyone thought it was delicious with sides mango with mint, cucumber with yogurt and lime pickles I over did the fresh curry leaves but that didn’t hurt it at all once again thanks mate Yum
Sounds lovely with the sides. So glad you enjoyed it. And a few extra curry leaves never hurt anyone!
That’s dinner for tomorrow night decided then. Looks like another absolute belter Of a curry!
Looking forward to this one … your Nadan is one of hellen’s favourite curries from your recipes. The hotel sauce is a game changer …
That’s one of my favourites too. Hope she likes this version as much!
Absolutely stunning Romain … might have to do this and the original back to back to see which she prefers lol! Methinks this hotel style version has the edge … fabulous curry!
This one is my current favourite on the blog as well. Great to hear it was a hit!
Thank you for this recipe, Romain, I really enjoy cooking and eating and sharing your food! Do you have a recipe for good old fashioned restaurant vegetable curry, the type that often accompanies biryani dishes over here in the U.K.?
I don’t and it will be a while I expect before I’m back in the UK to try one to replicate it. That said, my understanding is that it is a simple, mild curry. If you are feeling adventurous I’d try following the video in the introduction to Indian restaurant cooking at home post but limit the spicing to
1/2 tbsp garlic ginger paste
1 tsp restaurant mix powder
1/2 tsp of kasoori methi
1/2 tsp kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp tomato paste in 2 Tbsp water
No whole spices, chilies etc. Make the curry using the usual amount of base and add in whatever pre-cooked vegetables you want. Heat to warm through.
Hope this helps.
This looks great – thank you so very much for sharing this recipe. I just know it’s going to turn out fabulous, all your recipes do. I’ll be doing it this weekend and let you know how I get on.
Very happy tummies in Australia, thank you!
I really like this one! Hope you do too!
Hi can you explain me what are the ingredients in hotel curry gravy?
There are links in both the text of the post and the notes to the recipe for the hotel curry gravy. You need to make the hotel gravy recipe first. Once you have that you can make any of the hotel curry recipes here.