Chettinad Chicken

Chettinad chicken curry recipe

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 3 to 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
218 Calories
16g Fat
18g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 218
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 21%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 142mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 6%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 13mg 67%
Calcium 73mg 6%
Iron 2mg 8%
Potassium 365mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

For Indian food enthusiasts, the cuisine of Chettinad is synonymous with boldness, flavor, and wholesomeness. Not as spicy as other culinary traditions in the Indian subcontinent, Chettinad dishes are heavily influenced by East Asian cuisine. Many spices and techniques were brought to the area by travelers and merchants, so ingredients and traditions from Sumatra, Burma, Java, and Vietnam are still very much alive.

Our recipe for chicken Chettinad is a take on one of the most beloved chicken dishes in Indian restaurants, and one of the most strongly flavored and succulent stews that you'll ever have the chance of eating. Although the list of ingredients is long, most of the spices are easily available. Because this recipe is rooted in the heavy use of spices, be sure that the spices you are using are as fresh as possible.

The dish comes together quickly and should be enjoyed with dosa, appams, parathas, chapatis, or plain boiled rice to soak up the juicy sauce. Use any chicken cuts you'd prefer; many cooks opt for bone-in thighs, while others prefer boneless chicken breast, but either adds a lot of character to the final dish and make it a filling and comforting meal.


  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon anise seed, or fennel seeds

  • 3 dried red chili peppers

  • 1 1-inch stick cinnamon

  • 2 cardamom pods

  • 3 whole cloves

  • 1/2 cup grated coconut

  • 2 teaspoons ginger paste

  • 2 teaspoons garlic paste

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, or sunflower, canola, or ghee

  • 10 to 15 curry leaves

  • 2 large onionsfinely sliced

  • 1 star anise pod

  • 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 whole chicken, or 2 pounds, cut into chunks

  • Salt, to taste

  • 2 teaspoons lime juice

  • Coriander leaves, for garnishing

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Chettinad chicken curry
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Heat a heavy pan or skillet on medium heat and roast the poppy, coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds, plus the dried red chilies, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, and grated coconut for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Grind the mixture into a coarse powder in a clean dry spice or coffee grinder.

    Heat a heavy pan
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the ginger and garlic paste with the spice powder you previously made, and keep this mixture aside.

    Mix garlic and ginger paste
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. In a deep pan or large skillet, heat the oil and add the curry leaves on medium heat. When they stop spluttering, add the sliced onions and fry until they turn light brown, or 3 to 4 minutes.

    Heat oil
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Add the reserved spice paste and star anise and fry for another 2 to 3 minutes.

    Add spice paste
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 
  6. Add the tomatoes and chili powder and stir well to mix all the ingredients.

    Add chili powder
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 
  7. Add the chicken, lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until it's tender, or about 25 to 30 minutes.

    Add chicken
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 
  8. When the chicken is done, taste test and add salt to season. Add the lime juice, mix well, and turn off the flame.

    Add lime
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 
  9. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

    Add garnish
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 
  10. Enjoy!

How Long Do Spices Last?

Most spices won't go bad in the sense that we are used to when talking about food, but they will lose potency, color, and flavor over time. Dry spices last longer than dry herbs, but whole spices last longer than their ground counterparts. The shelf life of dried herbs and ground spices is between one to three years, depending on the type. For whole spices, the shelf life is closer to four years, but always check the labels and be sure to discard any spice that no longer has a potent smell, that is lacking color, or that has been in contact with too much moisture, as this can lead to mold growth.

The best way to stores spices is in a cool dark place in airtight jars or well-sealed containers—glass or ceramic are recommended.