Chettinad Chicken

Chettinad chicken curry recipe

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck 

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 3 to 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
629 Calories
40g Fat
19g Carbs
49g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 629
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 40g 51%
Saturated Fat 10g 52%
Cholesterol 152mg 51%
Sodium 428mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 49g
Vitamin C 30mg 152%
Calcium 111mg 9%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 799mg 17%
*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 ones 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 makes it a filling and comforting meal.


  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, or anise seeds

  • 3 dried red chile 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

  • Cilantro, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Chettinad chicken curry recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / 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 chiles, 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 Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the ginger paste and garlic with the spice powder you previously made, and keep this mixture aside.

    Mix garlic and ginger paste

    The Spruce Eats / 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 Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Add the reserved spice paste and star anise and fry for another 2 to 3 minutes.

    Add spice paste

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck 

  6. Add the tomatoes and chili powder and stir well to mix all the ingredients.

    Add chili powder

    The Spruce Eats / 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 Eats / 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 Eats / Julia Hartbeck 

  9. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.

    Chettinad chicken curry garnished with cilantro leaves

    The Spruce Eats / 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 store spices is in a cool, dark place in airtight jars or well-sealed containers—glass or ceramic are recommended.