Chettinad pepper chicken

Posted on July 7, 2009. Filed under: Non-veg | Tags: , |

Ingredients
5tbsp oil

For the Spice Paste:
1½tbsp cumin seeds
8-10 dried hot red chillies, broken into halves
3 tbsp coriander seeds
1½ tsp fennel seeds
1½ tsp black peppercorns
1½ tsp white poppy seeds
5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
4cm/1½in piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
½ tsp ground turmeric
1½-2tsp salt

You also need:
3 bay leaves
5 cardamom pods
2.5cm/1in cinnamon stick, broken
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 cloves
1½ tsp urad dal
15-20 fresh curry leaves, if avaliable
2 meduim-sized onions (175g/6oz), peeled and finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
one 1kg/2¼lb chicken, skinned and cut into smallish serving pieces (breast halves into 3 and legs into drumsticks and thighs)

Method
1. Make the spice paste: In a small frying-pan, heat 1 tbsp of the oil over a medium-high heat. When hot add the cumin seeds, chillies, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, black peppercorns and poppy seeds. Stir and fry briefly until lightly roasted. Now put these into a clean coffee grinder and grind to a powder. Empty into the container of an electric blender. Put the garlic, ginger, turmeric and salt into the blender as well, along with 6-8tbsp water. Process until you have a fine paste, pushing down with a rubber spatula if needed. Set aside.
2. Heat the remaining 4tbsp oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the bay leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon, fennel seeds, cloves and urad dal. Stir and fry briefly until the urad dal turns red, then add the curry leaves if using. Stir once or twice and add the onions. Fry the onions until they are soft and just lightly coloured. Now add the spice paste. Continue to stir and fry for about 4-6 minutes, adding a little water to prevent sticking. Add the tomato. Stir and fry for a further 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the chicken pieces to the onion and spice mixture. Stir until they are well coated, then add 600ml/1pt/2½ cups water, just enough to cover. Bring to the boil. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is almost cooked, about 20-25 minutes.
4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken pieces. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and reduce the sauce until very thick. This should take about 6-8 minutes. Replace the chicken, fold gently into the sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes before serving.

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