AdSense Top

March 13, 2014

Chettinad Pepper Chicken Masala - Spicy Pepper Chicken Recipe

I've shared a recipe for dry pepper chicken before but tha'ts before I tried this much better variation recently. I have been out of blogging action for a while thanks to a lot of stuff happening in my life right now (mostly good folks, mostly good) but obviously I am still cooking and eating as much as before, if not more. This gorgeous pepper chicken happened one Sunday night for dinner which explains the otherwise inexplicable lighting situation going on in the first two pictures of the dish.

Bloggers introduce their recipes with a dash of behind-the-scenes, what's going on in their lives, how they came to make this dish, etc. Sometimes we talk about how good it was and how everyone else must go ahead and make it. But anecdotes and stories that explain why others in their lives want repeats of a dish all the time are quite rare so when I saw Deepa talking about this dry pepper chicken masala her husband loves, I knew I had to try it. This is the first time (I think) I used freshly ground spices to such great results and I don't know how I'll ever go back to my lazy self that just adds store-bought coriander powder, etc, to my dishes.

chettinad pepper chicken masala recipe

I have adapted the original recipe and increased the amount of spices to suit my tastebuds so if you like your chicken dishes on the dry and greasy side with lots of kick and heat from spices, then drop everything now and go make this. Unless you are vegetarian, in which case, try it with potatoes or mushrooms. Obviously, you can control the greasiness by reducing the amount of oil but I strongly recommend going with the full amount listed below. Trust me on this.

Other chicken recipes that I absolutely love and make often for guests, especially:
Butter Chicken
Chicken Curry in Coconut Milk
Chilli Chicken
Kerala Chicken Curry


Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 2-3
Adapted from: One Small Pot and Tasting India by Christine Manfield


250 gm of boneless chicken pieces, cubed
A fistful of curry leaves
2 tbsp of oil (I used coconut oil)
1 tsp of black mustard seeds
1/4 tsp of fennel seeds, saunf (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp of ginger, grated or finely chopped
1 cup of onions, sliced
1/2 cup of cubed tomato or 1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp of cumin seeds
2 tsp of coriander seeds
1-2 dry red chillies (adjust to taste)
1 tsp of whole black pepper (adjust to taste)
3" piece of cinnamon
3 green cardamom pods


1. Dry-roast the spices (use the seeds from the cardamom pods) in a skillet until they turn a shade darker and fragrant.
Chettinad Pepper Chicken Masala Recipe

2. Cool and pound coarsely in a pestle or mortar or using a spice/coffee grinder.
Chettinad Pepper Chicken Masala Recipe

3. Heat the oil in a wide pan and turn to low heat. Add the mustard seeds and fennel and then they sizzle and pop, add the ground spices, fry for 10 seconds until fragrant...
Chettinad Pepper Chicken Masala Recipe

... and then add the ginger, garlic, onions, and curry leaves.
Chettinad Pepper Chicken Masala Recipe

4. Saute until the onions are soft and then add the tomatoes or tomato paste. Mix well.
Chettinad Pepper Chicken Masala Recipe

5. Now add the chicken pieces and stir well to coat them with the spices.
Chettinad Pepper Chicken Masala Recipe

6. Add 1 cup of water, bring to boil, lower heat to simmer, and cook covered for about 15 mins or until the chicken pieces are cooked through.
Chettinad Pepper Chicken Masala Recipe

You should uncover and stir in between every 3-4 mins to make sure nothing is burning. After about 15 mins, the gravy should be thick and the spices should be coating the chicken. If this is not the case, cook in the open pan for a few more minutes.
Chettinad Pepper Chicken Masala Recipe

All done! Serve hot as an appetizer, with rice, roti, dosa, chapati, parotta, anything at all. This lip-smacking Chetttinad-style pepper chicken goes with everything.

- You can also use chicken pieces with bone, just cut into the size you desire and adjust cooking times accordingly
- I have a high spice and heat tolerance when it comes to meat dishes, so adjust your spice levels to your taste
- If you don't have curry leaves, please don't make this. Ok you can, but it won't taste as nice. Special thanks to Deepa for the fresh curry leaves from her mom's garden.