Chettinad cuisine is complex and bold. The cuisine developed over decades as the community travelled extensively for trade, mainly banking, and brought back spices and cooking techniques. This curry is a classic from the community, and absolutely delicious.
The chicken is fall-off-the-bone tender and infused with complex spices. The smooth coconut curry is rich leaving a lovely mouthfeel. The spices start mild but progress to spicy with each bite, but this makes you crave the curry more.
Ammi is a stone mortar and pestle, but the word also means unconditional love and affection expressed in several ways including cooking food for family and friends. This cookbook is an ode to the author's mother's recipes that have been preserved for future generations. The book travels through her mother's life and memories, and the recipes span South Indian, Singaporian, Asian and European, at various points. The recipes are spectacular, most of them are easy to make and the food is delicious. This is a cookbook for those who are looking for something different.
For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.
1 large chicken cut into eight pieces
4 tablespoons sesame oil
1 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
15-20 curry leaves
3 onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garlic paste or 4-5 garlic cloves minced
2 teaspoons ginger paste
2 tablespoons chilli powder, or to taste
4 teaspoons coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt, to taste
3 tomatoes, finely minced
4 tablespoons cilantro, minced + for garnish
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
2 large potatoes chunked or 6-7 baby potatoes, halved
Heat the oil in a deep pot and add the cinnamon stick, fennel seeds and curry leaves. sautè for 30 seconds till the fennel seeds turn a shade darker. add the onions and sautè on medium-low heat till the onions are golden, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute till the ginger no longer smells raw. Add the chilli powder, coriander, turmeric, and salt and give the mix a quick spin. Add the tomatoes and cook on medium heat for 7-8 minutes till the tomatoes are broken down and you have a nice sauce. be careful not to dry out the sauce and burn the spices.
Add the chicken and cook till the chicken has turned white and the spices cling to the meat. Add the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer closed for 30 minutes. the curry will darken and thicken and the chicken will be cooked through. Be careful that the curry does not dry out and stick to the bottom of the pot. Add water as needed.
Add the potatoes and the tamarind, and stir to mix the tamarind into the curry. Top up with water if needed. Simmer closed for an additional 12-15 minutes till the potatoes are cooked through. Taste and adjust salt if needed.
Serve hot with Malabar parathas or rice.