Posted on | September 20, 2009 | 45 Comments |
I am one of those people who start salivating at the mere mention of the word Chettinad. It is the spiciest cuisine I have come across and you all know spice is my favorite flavor. Now, whenever I mention a region in a dish title, I know what’s going to follow next – the authenticity police will be here in no time. What I really want to tell them is – screw you! The explanation that follows is for those who are genuinely interested in the background of a dish. Chettinad is a region in South India and to assume that there is one “authentic” recipe for Chettinad Chicken is absurd. I like to believe that the Chettinad folks have figured more than one way to prepare chicken. This particular recipe is very different from the popular dish that is simply known as “Chicken Chettinad”.
Now, I don’t know about the authenticity of this recipe. I found this in one of my favorite cookbooks lately – Aharam –Traditional Cuisine of Tamil Nadu by Sabita Radhakrishna. I wrote about this book in a previous post and have prepared many dishes from it since then. Even though the dish is called Chettinad Chicken Fry in the book, I am not calling it that, as I know most of the people who’d search for Chettinad Chicken are looking for the other recipe I mentioned before. The Tamil name for the dish “Kozhi Uppu Varuval” makes more sense – it means Salted Chicken Fry. It is very similar to a recipe I’ve posted a while ago – Uppu Kari (Salted Meat). It is a mutton recipe from my mother-in-law and has earned many fans for Siv. It is a hit with all our friends. This one is a much simpler version of that recipe and with chicken instead of mutton. Since I know “Uppu Kari” is an “authentic” (I am starting to hate that word) Chettinad recipe, I am assuming this one is too.
Wow, that was a long-winded explanation; especially for someone who wanted to say screw you to the authenticity police! Look what they’ve done to me!!! I will just jump into the recipe without any further ado. Even though the book is pretty good, the ingredient proportions are way off! I always ignore what the book says and go with my guts and here is what worked for me. You might have to increase/reduce the chilies to suite your taste buds. It’s a simple dish
Kozhi Uppu Varuval
- 1.5 lb Chicken, leg and thigh pieces, skinless, bone-in
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 15 dry re chillies (broken into half)
- 2 cups onions, chopped fine
- 2 cups tomatoes, chopped fine
Cut the chicken into desired size, not too small. Marinate the chicken with the salt and turmeric powder and keep aside while preparing the other ingredients, like cutting the onions and tomatoes.
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the fennel seeds and broken red chillies and saute for a minute. Don’t let the spices burn. Add the chopped onions and fry till brown, now add the chopped tomatoes and saute till well-blended.
Add the chicken pieces and saute. Keep some hot water ready by the side of the stove. Keep sprinkling some hot water on the chicken pieces while frying, if the pan gets too dry. Cook for about 10-12 minutes till chicken is tender. Add a bit more oil if needed to brown the chicken at the end.
Garnish with cilantro and serve with some fresh lime squeezed over. It goes well with rice, or an awesome accompaniment to beer or a cold cocktail.
See, Chettinad chicken doesn’t have to be so complicated, even though it is not the same Chettinad chicken you were hoping for! I didn’t time myself, but the whole process took less than 30 minutes for sure and it has only 8 ingredients, even if I count the salt and oil and chilies. So I think it will make a perfect entry to the Express Indian – Mad Tea Party that Anita is hosting to celebrate three years of blogging. Congratulations Anita and hope it is not too late to join the party!