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Andhra spicy village-style chicken curry (Nātukōdi kāramu pulusu)

Updated: May 12

Village cooking all over India usually means that the dishes are made with relatively fewer ingredients and are more straightforward. However, do not let this be mistaken for bland or boring food, the cuisine pops with delicious flavours. These traditional dishes are slowly making their way to restaurants in the city and are prized for their uniqueness and use of less oil.

This is a very traditional dish that highlights the cuisine of the Telangana community of Andhra Pradesh. Typical of the cuisine, the dish is bold and very spicy, though you can tone the spice down to a tolerable level, but what is the fun in that? The spices come together beautifully, but are defined by the pop and long burn from the chilies. This is a slow-cooked dish, no pressure cooker, please; the chicken needs to slow simmer to slowly absorb the spices and chilli.

This is a wonderful cookbook that is packed with traditional dishes. The book was written by Archana Pidathala as an ode to her grandmother's cooking. This book is so much more than a collection of recipes, it brings to my table a history of the cuisine and people. Wonderfully written and with beautiful photographs, this cookbook fills a gap in my bookshelf in a cuisine that I know very little about.

For more delicious and spicy dishes from this cookbook, click here.


For the buttermilk masala:

3 tablespoons desiccated coconut

1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander seeds

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup buttermilk, or, 4 tablespoons yogurt made up to 1/4 cup with water

For the curry:

3-4 tablespoons oil

1 1-inch piece cinnamon stick

2 whole cloves

3 green cardamom pods

2 onions, finely chopped

1 tablespoon ginger paste

5-6 cloves garlic finely minced

2 tomatoes, finely diced

2-3 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Salt, to taste

4 cups water

2 lb chicken, jointed into 8 peices

1 teaspoon garam masala

1-2 tablespoon ghee

Cilantro, minced to garnish

10-12 curry leaves

Make the masala by adding all the ingredients to a small blender and blitzing to a smooth liquid. Make sure the desiccated coconut is finely ground to a smooth paste, this will take a couple of minutes. Set aside.

Add the oil to a pot large enough for the curry. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves, and cardamom and sauté for 1 minute until lightly coloured. Add the onions and fry on medium-low heat until the onions are a light golden hue.

Add the garlic and ginger and fry for an additional minute, allowing the onions to darken slightly. Add the tomatoes, chilli powder, turmeric, and salt and cook on low heat until the paste is seasoned and the tomatoes have started to break down. Do not allow the curry paste to dry out and burn.

Add the buttermilk masala and cook till the liquids have evaporated and the masala has turned a deep red hue, about 15 minutes. Be careful to cook on low heat and allow the curry to take its time, or it will burn.

Add the water and the chicken and bring to a boil. Simmer closed for 40-45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and very tender. It should be ready to drop off the bone.

Add the garam masala, mix in and simmer for 2 minutes.

Serve in a deep bowl drizzled with the ghee and garnished with cilantro. Accompany with white or brown rice or parathas.

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