I was pretty exhausted and dare I say a little grumpy after a day filled with work, and general ‘stuff’. I was in the mood for something that would make me feel like it had all been worthwhile. Curry (and beer) go a long way to making this happen, and there’s none better than this amazing Chettinad chicken curry – flavoured with regional spices such as cinnamon, fennel and predominantly black pepper. This curry is spicy, fragrant and rich. But not at all heavy – the curry leaves at the end add a lovely fresh finish to this dish and the lingering heat of the pepper creates a welcome difference from the usual chilli hit. Grumpiness be gone!
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
4 dried red chillies
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 onion (sliced)
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely grated garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1kg chicken thighs (cut into 1/4 portions)
200g can chopped tomatoes
3 hot green chillies (chopped, seeds in)
20 fresh curry leaves
2 teaspoons black pepper
Heat the oil in a large heavy based pan over a moderate heat until hot. Add the mustard seeds and sizzle for 30 seconds before adding the chillies, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and cardamom. Cook for 1 minute, then add the cloves, cinnamon stick and fennel seeds and cook for a further 1 minute. Add the onion slices and cook for 7-8 minutes until soft and golden. Now add the ginger and garlic and fry, reducing the heat slightly to avoid sticking, for 1 minute. Now add the ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, salt and 1/4 cup water and stir continuously for 1 minute, before adding the chicken, tomato and chillies. Let this cook for 7-8 minutes until the sauce is thick and the oil begins to separate.
Add 400ml water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered, for 45 minutes (remove the lid after half way). Stir in the curry leaves and pepper and serve.
Serve alongside lots of fluffy basmati rice.