Chettinad Chicken

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves:


Appears in

My Street Food Kitchen

My Street Food Kitchen

By Jennifer Joyce

Published 2015

  • About

Hailing from Tamil Nadu in the south, this aromatic curry uses rarer Indian spices such as star anise and fennel seed in its mix. If you’re passionate about Indian food you might want to pick up a coffee grinder, as roasting and grinding the spices is imperative. They are inexpensive and do a better job than a mortar and pestle.

Preparation: 20 Minutes, Plus 30 Minutes Marinating
Cooking: 45 Minutes


  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2.5 cm (1 inch) piece ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 750 g (1 lb 10 oz) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into thirds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 50 ml ( fl oz) vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced into thin half moons
  • 1 thumb-size red chilli, seeded and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrated purée)
  • 2 tablespoons desiccated (shredded) coconut
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 350 ml (12 fl oz) vegetable stock
  • Steamed basmati rice and coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve

Spice mix

  • teaspoons fennel seeds
  • teaspoons cumin seeds
  • teaspoons coriander seeds
  • teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 dried long red chilli


To make the spice mix, combine all of the ingredients in a small frying pan and dry-fry, shaking the pan, over medium heat for 40 seconds or until fragrant. Cool slightly, then pour the toasted mixture into a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and finely grind.

Put the garlic, ginger and 1 tablespoon of water in a blender and process until smooth. Put the chicken thighs in a bowl, add the turmeric and then the garlic and ginger paste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight if time permits.

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and chilli and season with salt. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until soft. Add the chicken, ground spices, tomato paste, coconut and cinnamon sticks and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Serve with steamed basmati rice and coriander leaves.