Indian Black Pepper Chicken CurryVisit

This Indian Black Pepper Curry is just the ticket if you're looking for a more unusual curry, not often seen on the menus of Indian restaurants outside India. It's most definitely one of my 10 Best Chicken Curry Recipes. Find out why...

I first ate this in a small town in Kerala, India. I'd been on the go for the entire day in a train that leaked fuel - right into my sleeper carriage, so upon arrival I was in absolutely no mood for anything. All I wanted to do was drink a gallon of water to salvage my lungs and eat something. So, once we'd checked into our hotel - I made a bee line for the restaurant downstairs.

There was no ordering involved in this particular restaurant. Young waiters weaved amongst the tables holding various hanging pots of food. One approached our table, nodded sideways and spooned a curry onto our plate. Another boy appeared and spooned over rice, as another boy arrived and offered chutneys and another offered poori breads and papadums, more waiters silently appeared intermittently, adding whatever they had to the growing pile. My grumpy mood gradually subsided, I began to forget about the last 8 hours on a rickety fume filled train. I vividly remember two things I ate from that meal - a splendid coconut cashew curry and THIS dish - a black pepper chicken curry, quite unlike any other I'd ever tasted.

Indian Black Pepper Chicken Curry

Kerala - the finest black pepper in India

I subsequently learned, on a trip through the beautiful Keralan backwaters (above) that Kerala is famed for its black pepper. Before the introduction of chillies from South America in the 16th Century, peppercorns were the dominant spicing of Indian food. Peppercorns are still used in many dishes from the region to give a spice kick. The dominance of black pepper in this dish creates a very unique and appealing flavour. There is a notable spice kick from the pepper that lingers long after every mouthful. It's quite unlike the heat of chilli, so those seeking a new taste sensation will love this curry.

If you can find them, you can also add a few stems of fresh peppercorn stems in the last minutes of cooking to add more pepper flavour (see pic above). This is how it was served to us and it almost blew my head off with spice! It's not easy to find fresh peppercorns so, I don't include them. My taste buds approve.

More delicious South Indian curry recipes

So, if you're up for a different kind of curry, try this recipe - it had bucketloads of personality and a flavour like no other. If not, why not try one of my other South Asian curries? Maybe try the South Indian Salmon Curry recipe or my delicious Sri Lankan Thoramalu Fish Curry? Enjoy!

What are peppercorns?

Peppercorns are the fruit of the pepper plant. They are native to South Asia. Pepper grows on vines with stems and hang like small grapes. The fruit can be harvested at different times to produce different types of pepper products.

What is black pepper?

Black pepper is made by harvesting the under-ripe green fruit and drying. The skins turn black and this creates what we know as the whole black peppercorn.

What is white pepper?

White pepper is created by harvesting the fruit when fully ripe then soaking to remove the skins. The fruit is then dried to create the white peppercorn.

What is green pepper?

Green pepper is created by harvesting the green fruit and eating fresh or by preserving in brine, pickling or canning to retain the green colour.

What is red pepper?

Red peppercorns are created by harvesting the ripe red fruit and eating fresh or by preserving in brine, pickling or canning to retain the red colour. They shouldn't be confused with dried Pink or Sichuan peppercorns.

What are pink  and Sichuan peppercorns?

Pink peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorns are not closely related to the pepper plant. Pink are native to South America and Sichuan to South East Asia, North India and China.

Can I substitute the pepper in this recipe?

To give the most authentic flavour, you should use the widely available black pepper. White pepper is milder, so you may want to experiment with that too.

How to make my Indian Black Pepper Chicken Curry

Indian Black Pepper Chicken Curry
Indian Black Pepper Chicken Curry
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course:Main Course
Keyword:Chicken, Coconut, Pepper
Servings: 6
Calories: 532kcal
Author: Lee Jackson



  • In a pestle & mortar or using a spice grinder, pound together the peppercorns and mustard seeds until coarsely ground. Set aside.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over a medium heat until hot. Add the cumin seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, curry leaves and dried chillies. Let them splutter and sizzle for 30 seconds before adding the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir well for 2-3 minutes.
  • Splash in about 1/4 cup water and sizzle for a further 2-3 minutes until the water has evaporated and the onions are frying again. Repeat this process of adding water and reducing for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the ground turmeric, cumin, coriander, chilli powder, garam masala and the ground pepper/mustard and stir well. Add 1/2 cup water and stir again. Like before, let this mixture reduce until almost dry then add 1/4 cup water. Stir constantly to avoid sticking.
  • Add the tomato, salt and sugar and another 1/4 cup water and reduce again. Repeat this process of water and reduction, like before, for about 20 minutes until the paste is thick and smooth and the oil begins to separate.
  • Now, Add the chicken and turn up the heat. Stir fry for 10 minutes before pouring in the coconut milk and about 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thick and creamy.
  • Spinkle with some fresh cilantro and serve with lots of fluffy basmati rice and a lemon wedge to squeeze over.

Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 532kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 30gFat: 41gSaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 163mgSodium: 533mgPotassium: 662mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 745IUVitamin C: 87mgCalcium: 79mgIron: 4mg
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