Chettinad is a region in Tamil Nadu renowned for its subtle yet spicy cuisine. There are many iterations of this curry. Given that black peppercorns are a signature spice of the region and have originated from the south of India, this curry highlights the flavors of black pepper.
makes 3-4 cups
4 chicken thighs or legs, skinless bone in
1 Tbsp black peppercorns, lightly pounded
2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp plain yogurt
10-15 kari leaves
4 Tbsp ghee or oil
2 cups onions, chopped
2 Tbsp ginger purée
1 14 oz can coconut milk
2 Tbsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
2-3 serrano peppers, sliced lengthwise
juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
handful of pomegranate seeds (optional)
dollop of plain yogurt
- Place the peppercorns in between a cloth towel and pound with a hammer until the pieces are broken up. Cut the chicken thighs in half and marinate in the peppercorns, garlic, yogurt and kari leaves. Let the chicken rest for 15-20 minutes up to 24 hours.
- In a heavy bottom stock pot, heat the ghee and fry the onions until translucent or lightly golden brown. Add the marinated chicken and fry for another 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Lower the heat then add the ginger purée, coconut milk, ground black pepper and salt. Cover the stockpot and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
- Stir in the cardamom, sliced serrano peppers and the juice of one lemon. Garnish with chopped cilantro, pomegranate seeds and a dollop of yogurt.
ideas / variations
- If using boneless chicken, reduce the cooking time in half.
- For a vegetarian option, replace chicken with large chunks of butternut or chayote squash.
- Sub ½ cup of cream for the coconut milk. Add a bit more if you see it is getting dry.