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Chettinad Chicken Curry






“It’s important to be real
You were born to be yourself
So no matter how you feel…
First be a woman”

- First Be A Woman by Gloria Gaynor

Coming from a culturally diverse country, Singapore, my favorite food were mee soto, roti prata, laksa, nasi lemak, hainanese chicken rice, cai tao kway (carrot cake), otak otak and satay. Some people may say that there isn’t really a ‘Singaporean cuisine’ because we are such a melting pot of cultures, but I beg to differ really. That makes our cuisine even more intriguing and varied, as we have capitalized on the strengths of each race and made dishes that are entirely our own.

I did this Chettinad Chicken Curry yesterday, and though I’ve eaten more curries in my life than I can count, I haven’t tried this particular one. Chettinad is apparently a place in Tamil Nadu, in the south of India. I found a recipe on About.com and since I’ve always been a great fan of curry, I tried it straightaway. Unfortunately I didn’t have all the ingredients, so my version was slightly altered (but still tasted awesome, thankfully). I also added a spoonful of garam masala in the paste because no curry, I think, is complete without that ;)

This curry is definitely in a league of its own - it doesn’t taste like any other curry, perhaps because instead of using a pre-prepared curry paste, I roasted, blended and grinded my own paste.

A red hot chicken curry with the unmistakable aroma of garam masala, cinnamon and onions. Best served with steaming white rice or bread.

CHETTINAD CHICKEN CURRY

Recipe adapted and altered from About.com

Ingredients

1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp garam masala
2 dried chillies, deseeded
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon powder or 1/2 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods (I didn’t use this because the smell of cardamom makes me sink)
3 cloves
4 tbsps grated coconut (or coconut flour)
4 tbsps garlic ginger paste

2 tbsps sunflower oil
6 curry leaves (I omitted this)
1 large red onion, sliced thinly
2 tomatoes, chopped into cubes
1 tsp chilli powder (optional, reduce if you are spice intolerant)
350gr chicken breast, cut into medium-sized pieces
2 potatoes, peeled and boiled
Salt
2 tsps lemon juice or lime juice
Coriander leaves, chopped (for garnishing)

Method

1. On a medium flame, roast the first 10 ingredients for 3 to 4 minutes until they become aromatic. Allow to cool before grinding the mixture in an electric blender until they become a coarse powder.

2. For those who do not have the garlic and ginger paste, chop the garlic and ginger in small pieces. Then, mix them with some water in the electric blender. Blend until the texture seems like a paste.

3. Now, mix the powder in step 1 with the paste in step 2. If it is too dry, add 1 teaspoon of sunflower oil and mix well until you get a smooth paste.

4. On a nonstick pan, heat some oil on a high flame and then add the curry leaves. Next, add the sliced onions and fry until they turn light brown in color.

5. Blend the spice paste with the onions and mix well for 2 minutes. Put the tomatoes and chilli powder and continue stirring.

6. It’s finally time for the chicken to make an appearance. Put in the chicken and distribute them well with the sauce before covering and simmering for 15 minutes, or until the chicken becomes tender.

7. The interminable wait is over. Squeeze some lemon or lime juice, mix well and remove from heat. Garnish with the coriander leaves.


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