Nearly restaurant style Chettinad chicken curry is loaded with big South Indian flavours. Coconut. Green chilies. Curry leaves. And just the right amount of spice.
If you’ve never heard of it, that’s not a shock. It’s too bad though. You are missing out. That’s the problem with the whole Indian restaurant formula.
Chettinad chicken curry is a great Indian dish you’ve never heard of
There are about a million different Indian curries. And yet somehow pretty much every Indian restaurant features the same 10 or 15 dishes.
You would think all there was to eat in India was jalfrezi, tikka masala and vindaloo. Guess what. There’s more. Lots more.
And it’s all really good. So much diversity. So many incredible flavours. You need to get out of the Indian restaurant recipe box.
Some of my favourite curries are from the south of India. Madras is probably the most famous. If you like Madras chicken curry then this chettinad chicken curry is likely to hit all the right notes with you. It’s a bit creamier than a madras. There’s more coconut. And it’s pretty assertively spiced. Lots to love here.
This is a way to get Indian restaurant results without all the prep
Nearly restaurant is a way of making curries that gets you the smooth, luscious sauces like you get in restaurants but without the hassle. Easier. The cooking techniques are pulled from restaurant style. If you want to read more about this check out this guide to nearly Indian restaurant cooking.
This takes less prep. Way less prep. You can make this in less than an hour start to dinner. And get really close to restaurant results. Really, really close.
One thing that may seem odd to folks who don’t cook in the Indian restaurant style. It’s pretty common to pre-cook the meat or poultry. I tried this with uncooked chicken and the juices from the chicken made things a little watery.
Not bad but not that perfectly creamy sauce you get in restaurants. It’s not much more work. You can cook it in the same pan you will cook your curry in. And it makes a difference.
Nearly restaurant style Chettinad chicken curry a curry that should be on Indian restaurant menus. It’s a bit different. In a good way. Try it. And next time you are out for Indian, ask the restaurant why they don’t serve it.
Like this style of curry?
nearly restaurant style chettinad chicken curry
The onion paste
- 2 cups onions - coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup water
pre-cook the chicken
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 3 pieces per thigh or 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup chicken stock or water
- 1 tsp curry powder - any curry powder works here
- 1/2 tsp salt
nearly restaurant chettinad chicken curry
- 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1/2-1 tsp black pepper - butcher's grind is great for this recipe
- 1 inch piece cinnamon bark - also called cassia
- 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp tomato paste diluted with enough water to get it to the consistency of tomato sauce
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 2-3 green chilies coarsely chopped
- 15-20 fresh curry leaves
The onion paste
- Place the onions in a microwave safe dish and cover loosely. Microwave at 70 percent until the onions are soft and translucent. This takes 10 minutes in my 1100 watt microwave. I can't predict how long it will take in yours...
- Remove the onions from the microwave. Be careful. They will be hot. Let them cool slightly. Place the onions, 2 tbsp vegetable oil and 1 cup of warm water in a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.
pre-cook the chicken
- Add the chicken, chicken stock or water, curry powder and salt to a sauce pan. Pick one that you can cook the final curry in. Less dishes.
- Bring the stock to a simmer and cook gently just barely done - maybe 8-10 minutes. It will cook a bit longer in the curry. Remove the chicken from the liquid and set aside.
nearly restaurant chettinad chicken curry
- In a small bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, black pepper, turmeric, kashmiri chili powder, garam masala and salt. This is your spice mix.
- Heat 4 tbsp vegetable oil in a pot over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the cinnamon stick. Once small bubbles form and it crackles a bit, add the green chilies and curry leaves. Cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add the garlic ginger paste and cook until it stops spluttering.
- Turn the heat to medium low. Add the spice mix and stir continuously until it starts to smell really good - around 30-40 seconds. Watch it carefully. If you burn the spices at this point you have to start over.
- Add the diluted tomato paste and stir to combine. Turn the heat up to medium. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add the onion paste and turn the heat up to medium high. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5-6 minutes. Cover it loosely. It will splatter. If it doesn't your heat is too low. The curry will darken a bit as it cooks.
- Turn the heat down to medium low. Add the coconut milk and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add the pre-cooked chicken. Simmer until the chicken is warmed through - another 2 minutes or so.
- Garnish with a bit of cilantro and additional diced green chili pepper if desired.
20 thoughts on “nearly restaurant style chettinad chicken curry”
I only recently found your site and I’m enjoying some of your recipes and techniques. I’d really like to try this recipe but find fresh curry leaves don’t seem to be something readily available where I live. Could I substitute dried curry leaves? If so, how much should I use? Let me know and thank you for your inspirational recipes and cooking ideas.
I’m delighted that you found me and are enjoying the recipes. Unfortunately curry leaves are one of those things that don’t have a substitute and dried is a shadow of fresh. I’d just leave them out. Won’t be the same but it will still be tasty!
Romain, I love this one. I’ve been making it with a single jalapeno (seeds mostly scraped out) and substituting paneer for the chicken. ?
I love that you are substituting paneer for chicken. I try to get people to see past the protein and just go with what they like!
And Narendra was my father’s name:-)
Can you make the sauce earlier in the day and then add chicken and finish when ready to serve?
Yes, I think that would work well.
Hi! Came out awesome! At the end I added 1/8 cup of cream to the party. You never referenced what to do with the Garam Masala and the curry soup we simmered the chicken in. I just added the Garam Masala to the spice mix and added a splash of that to the curry when it was simmering.
Glad you liked it. The garam masala goes into the spice mix and the “soup” you simmered the chicken in goes in my mouth. It’s my cup of tasty while I’m cooking the rest:-)
Absolutely fine to add it to the curry too. More flavour is always better!
Simply stunning … enough said!
Glad you liked it Andy!
I made this yesterday for my Indian Restaurant in Progreso, Yucatan. We are a small restaurant with a small kitchen, so cook mostly homestyle and freeze.
This recipe got rave reviews from guests last night who are foodies. Thank you for sharing. What we loved was that the flavor was so unique. It doesn’t taste like all the other curries.
I will be trying more of your recipes over the next few weeks.
That is about the best comment I have ever received. An Indian restaurant serving one of my recipes. I never imagined. Thank you!
We make the sauce in advance and then cook the chicken in the moment with the sauce. So nearly restaurant style. (I have a tiny kitchen – not restaurant style.)
This sauce is also fantastic with shrimp. Pan fry the shrimp half way and then finish cooking in the sauce. Amazing.
That makes great sense in a small kitchen.
Both your standard recipes and the nearly restaurant ones we’ve done to date have all been fabulous…the Chettinad one particularly so! I do a lot curries in the so-called BIR style with a base gravy etc, made a pleasant change to end up with such a fabulous curry without the need for the normal base gravy! Look forward to more recipes like this one.
More please sir!
Thanks! I dropped this approach because nobody seems to be paying attention to it but I am happy to start the series up again. I think it’s a great alternative technique for anyone who doesn’t want to make curry base or is out of it and feeling like a curry.
Hi Romain, please do more of the nearly recipes when you can. Be a pity not to see more! So easy to cook, and as you say with a little prep so quick!
Doing lamb saag from your recipe pages tomorrow so looking forward to that too!
Haha – OK – I run a few weeks backlog of posts buffer but coming soon! Please tell your friends though:-)
Tried this last night and must say was a little sceptical whilst cooking how it would turn out, all of a sudden if came together and WOW … stunning! Just about the right amount of spice, flavour to die for and the sauce … creamy, tasty and thick … superb!
Thank you took a chance on it. I’m having trouble convincing people that this “nearly restaurant” technique works. It’s unlike anything I’ve come across but I hope someday it will become mainstream.