Chicken Chettinad

‘Chicken Chicken’ or chettinad style chicken curry is a iconic dish from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu, India. This classic dish is uniquely fragrant and wonderfully spicy. Traditionally, an assortment of aromatic spices are roasted and ground to paste which when is added to the curry towards the second half of the cooking process. There are several variations as to the preparation of this dish, however, to get an authentic flavor and taste the ingredients for the flavorful ‘chettinad masala’ (how to make Chettinad Masala) should not be compromised. Traditionally the spices are roasted and ground to a paste at the time of cooking the curry. But at times this masala can also be dry roasted, ground to a powder and stored in an air-tight container for later use. In that case, adequate care has to be taken to store the spice-mix so that its aroma remains intact. At the time of cooking, desired quantity of spice-mix should be mixed with little water to form the spice paste and then used as required. I have tried both ways and believe me results are always awesome. 

So this Sunday lunch, try out this delicious, aromatic, spicy chicken curry with steamed rice, paratha or naan.


Chicken Chettinad Recipe

Preparation time: 10 - 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 - 60 minutes
Yield: Serves 3 - 4 persons


  • Chicken: 500 grams, chicken on bones
  • Onions: 2-3 medium sized, thinly sliced
  • Fresh Ginger - Garlic Paste: 2 tablespoon
  • Tomatoes: 2 whole
  • Oil: 2 tablespoon
  • Curry Leaves: 2 - 3 sprigs
  • Dry Whole Red Chilies: 2 pieces
  • Lemon Juice: 2 teaspoon
  • Turmeric Powder: ¼ teaspoon
  • Bay Leaf: 1 piece
  • Salt: As per taste
  • Cilantro: Finely chopped, for garnish



  • Dry Whole Red Chilies: 4 - 5 pieces
  • Coriander Seeds: 2 tablespoon
  • Cumin Seeds: 1 teaspoon
  • Fennel Seeds: 1 teaspoon
  • Poppy Seeds: 1 tablespoon
  • Pepper corns: 2 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon: ½ “ stick
  • Green Cardamom: 2 - 3
  • Cloves: 2-3
  • Stone Flower: 2 - 3 pieces
  • Star Anise: ¼
  • Marathi Moggu: 1
  • Freshly Grated/Desiccated Coconut: ¼ cup tightly packed
  • Curry Leaves: 1 sprig


  1. Marinate the chicken pieces with lemon juice and turmeric powder. Keep aside for 15-20 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, dry roast all the ingredients for chettinad masala except coconut and curry leaves. Take them out on a plate, add coconut and curry leaves to the pan and roast till light golden. Remove from heat, let it cool down.
  3. With little water grind into a smooth paste.
  4. Heat oil in a pan; add bay leaf and dry whole red chilies. Add sliced onions and sauté till it turns soft and translucent.
  5. Add ginger-garlic paste. Sauté till the raw smell is gone.
  6. Add chopped tomatoes, salt and curry leaves. Sauté for 2-3 minutes on medium flame or till the tomatoes start turning soft and mushy.
  7. Add marinated chicken. Mix well. Cover and cook on low to medium flame till the chicken is 3/4th done, checking intermittently.
  8. Once sufficiently cooked, add in the ground masala, mix well. Add warm water if needed. Cover and simmer for around 10 minutes or till done.
  9. Sprinkle chopped cilantro, remove from heat.
  10. Serve delicious chicken chettinad with rice, roti or naan.