Chettinad Chicken with Curry Leaves


What makes Chettinad Curry different

There’s no doubt you already heard of curry, but what about Chettinad Curry?

This variety of curry chicken is local to the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu state of South India. Now you know where it got its name. What makes the dish special is the use of curry leaves and some unexpected spices in its preparation, including poppy and fennel seeds!

No wonder then that Chettinad Curry has a very unique, aromatic taste. It is also very spicy, but that’s to be expected. Prepare to use at least two varieties of chili peppers and don’t be surprised if you cry (or at least tear up) after just two spoonfuls.

At first glance, it may seem like this recipe requires a lot of preparation. This is partly true: you’ll need many spices you may not have just laying around in your pantry if you’re not regularly making Indian or Asian-style dishes, but the preparation and cooking process is simple and for sure one that you’ll enjoy.

So, let’s make some Chettinad Curry!

Ingredients for Chettinad Curry


  • 3 1/2 lbs chicken thigh


  • 5 large onions
  • 3 tomatoes


  • 10 curry leaves
  • 5 Kashmiri chilis
  • 1 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp white poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp ginger paste
  • 8 cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 5 tbsp yogurt
  • 5 tbsp cooking oil (or unscented coconut oil)
  • sea salt


Making the marinade

First, marinate the chicken tights in a mix of yogurt, turmeric, salt, and red chili powder. Let the meat soak all the flavors for 3-4 hours.

Preparing the spices

Soak white poppy seeds for 30 minutes up to an hour.

Roast your spices (everything except curry and bay leaves) in a small pan for a few minutes. When you’re done, remove from the stove and blend in a blender. Add soaked poppy seeds.

Cooking the chicken

In a large pot, add cooking oil (or unscented coconut oil) and heat up. Add bay leaves and onion. Cook for a few minutes and then add the garlic paste and curry leaves.

Wait until the onion turns golden brown and then add chicken thighs.

Add blended spices and tomato. Allow everything to soften.

Add coconut milk to the pot. Now, cover with a lid and let cook on low heat for up to 30 minutes. The meat should be cooked through, soft and coming off the bone.

Enjoy warm, serve with rice, eat responsibly, and prepare for tears of joy!

Recipe sent in by Monica L.



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