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Chettinad chicken curry in a carbon steel bowl from the front. Dal and rice in the background.
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5 from 6 votes

Chettinad chicken curry - Indian hotel style

All sorts of big south Indian flavours in one delicious Indian hotel style curry.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: chettinad chicken curry
Servings: 2
Calories: 640kcal
Author: romain | glebekitchen


chettinad masala

  • 1 tbsp coriander seed
  • 3 dried red chilies - I like kashmiri chilies for this
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seed
  • 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 inch cinnamon bark also known as cassia
  • 2 arms from one star anise Literally break off a couple of the arms from one star anise. You don't need a lot.
  • 1 clove
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • pinch ajwain optional

The spice mix

  • 2 tsp chettinad masala - see above
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp kasoor methi - dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

chettinad chicken curry

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil - any neutral oil is fine. Coconut oil is nice as well. Try 1/2 and 1//2.
  • 1 2 inch cassia bark
  • 4 tbsp onion chopped coarsely
  • 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste - recipe link below
  • 10 curry leaves - fresh. And it's about 10. Not exactly 10. Just grab a few.
  • the spice mix from above
  • 1 cup Indian hotel curry gravy - don't worry if it seem to thick. The juices from the chicken will thin it out.
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 3-4 pieces each
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste - or tamarind pulp if you make it yourself.


Make the chettinad masala

  • Pre-heat a small skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Measure out all the large spices (coriander seed, cinnamon bark, peppercorns, star anise arms, clove and green cardamon. Put those in one small bowl. These are the "big" spices. Measure out the cumin seed, poppy seed and ajwain into another bowl. These are the "little spices". Very scientific. I know.
  • Add the "big" spices. Toast, shaking the pan, until they start to get fragrant. This should take a minute or two.
  • Add the "little" spices and chilies and toast, shaking constantly, for another minute. Flip the chilies about half way through.
  • Let cool and grind to a fine powder. I like a coffee grinder for this. One of those ones with the blade.

Do your prep

  • Chop the onion. Measure out your spice mix (everything can go into one of the little bowls you used above). Grab your curry leaves. Prep your chicken. Measure out a cup (237 ml) of Indian hotel curry gravy.
  • Have your garlic ginger paste, tamarind and coconut milk handy. You're good to go now.

Make the chettinad chicken curry

  • Heat the oil in a medium sized frying pan until the oil just starts to shimmer.
  • Add the cassia bark. You should see little bubbles forming around it. Cook for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the onions. Cook the onions until they are fully translucent. If you can get the edges to brown a bit that's a good thing.
  • Stir in the garlic ginger paste. Gently fry until the garlic ginger paste stops sputtering. This is the only messy step.
  • Turn your heat down to medium low and add your spice mix and the curry leaves. Cook for about 30 seconds. You really 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 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 ccok 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.
  • 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. If it's too thin don't cover it.
  • Chettinad chicken curry is great with rice or, if you really want to go large, rice and a paratha. Parathas make everything better...


Make your Indian hotel curry gravy ahead of time. It takes time to make so think about doing it the day before.
For maximum flavour you should consider making your garlic ginger paste from scratch.
1 cup is 237 ml.
You may notice there’s no tomato paste or passata in this recipe. That's because the tomato flavour comes from the hotel curry gravy. It’s there already.


Serving: 2servings | Calories: 640kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 161mg | Sodium: 1257mg | Potassium: 870mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 891IU | Vitamin C: 118mg | Calcium: 117mg | Iron: 5mg