Chettinad Chicken Curry

This is a fiery chicken curry from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu. The Chettiars, who live here, were traders, and travelled far to ply their goods. Therefore, their cuisine has influences from all over the world, so you will find spices from the far east, like star-anise, in the recipes from here.




  1. Chicken – 1 whole chicken (or 1 kg. chicken pieces)
  2. Poppy seeds – 4 tsp.
  3. Grated coconut – 1, or 2 cups desiccated coconut soaked in 1 cup hot water.
  4. Fennel seeds – 2 tsp.
  5. Coriander seeds – 3 tsp.
  6. Cumin seeds – 2 tsp.
  7. Whole red chilies – 6-8 (de-seeded, if you like it less hot)
  8. Cinnamon – 2″ stick
  9. Green cardamom – 6
  10. Cloves – 6
  11. Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp.
  12. Onion, large – 1
  13. Ginger, chopped – 4 tsp.
  14. Garlic, chopped – 4 tsp.
  15. Star anise – 1
  16. Tomatoes, medium – 3
  17. Lemon – 1
  18. Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  19. Fresh coriander to garnish – 2 tbsp.
  20. Oil – 2 tbsp.
  21. Salt to taste



(I cook this in my slow cooker, so the chicken gets really tender)

  1. Clean, cut and skin the chicken.
  2. Finely chop the onions and tomatoes.
  3. Heat 1 tsp. of oil in a big, wide pan.Roast the whole red chilies, grated coconut, poppy seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds to the oil, and grind to a paste along with ginger and garlic.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in the same pan and fry the onions till golden, then add curry leaves and the ground paste and sauté for  5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and turmeric powder and sauté.
  6. Add the chicken, mix and cook for 5 minutes and then add 2 cups of water.
  7. Cover and cook till the chicken is done. Add lemon juice. Garnish with coriander leaves.
  8. Serve hot  with boiled rice or any Indian breads.

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