Chettinad Chicken Curry

Chettinad Chicken Curry is known for the flavors, the spice and the aroma! Here is a fantastic recipe that promises to deliver in all aspects. The dish is very popular not just in the South of India but has made a place in a lot of homes and hearts all over the world. Give it a shot and you’ll see exactly what we mean. It is a dish that requires patience and love and a few steps but in the end, it’s so worth it.
Make this dish mild, medium or spicy, the flavors are amazing.

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Serves: 8


Chicken – 2.5lb, washed and cut to bite size

Masala for Grinding:
Cinnamon – 1.5″
Cloves – 4
Green Cardamom – 3
Dry Red Chili – 7-8 or to taste
Cumin Seeds – 1.5 tsp
Fennel Seeds – 1.5 tsp
Coriander Seeds – 2 tsp
Khus Khus/Poppy Seeds – 1 tbsp
Fresh Coconut – 1/2 cup
Water for Grinding – 1/2 cup

Oil – 3 tbsp
Onion – 1 large, finely chopped
Minced Ginger – 1 tbsp
Minced Garlic – 1 tbsp
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves – a few sprigs
Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp or to taste
Tomatoes – 2 large, chopped
Lime or Lemon Juice – to taste
Water – 2-3 cups or as needed
Coriander/Cilantro Leaves – for garnish


1. Dry roast on low heat – Cinnamon Stick, Cloves, Green Cardamom, Red Chillies, Cumin Seeds, Fennel Seeds, Coriander Seeds & Poppy Seeds.
2. Keep stirring till the seeds change color and there is a fantastic aroma.
3. Add in the the Coconut and again, stir till the coconut gets a color and looks dry and dehydrated.
4. Once done, transfer and allow it to cool.
5. Grind to a smooth paste using 1/2 cup of Water and keep aside till ready to use.
6. In a pan, heat the Oil on medium flame and once hot, add in the Onions.
7. Salt the Onions just a bit and cook till translucent.
8. Add in the Minced Ginger and Garlic, Turmeric Powder, Curry Leaves, Spice Paste and Red Chili Powder.
9. Cook for a minute.
10. Add in the Tomatoes, mix and cook uncovered till the oil separates from the mixture.
11. Add in the Chicken, mix and cook for 5 minutes.
12. Add Salt and a squeeze of Lime or Lemon and mix well again.
13. Add in Water for gravy as needed, mix and cover and cook for 20-25 minutes.
14. Once done, garnish with Cilantro just before serving.
15. Enjoy this dish with Rice, Chapatis, Naans, Parathas, Idlis or Dosas.

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0 thoughts on “Chettinad Chicken Curry

    1. Hi Sreeja,

      Khus khus does have a distinct flavor (and a narcotic quality, lol!) but yes, you can definitely leave it out if you don’t have it.

  1. Thank you for posting videos with your receipes makes it very helpful and easy to follow. I made your Chettinad Chicken Curry for a South Indian theme bridal shower. The bride-to-be is from Hydrabad and said my dish was absolutely delicious and perfect with just the right amount of spices and heat. She sent me a text the next day stating she ate the left-overs for lunch and dinner. I researched several indian cooking blog sites but went with yours because your videos and diversity of receipe regions. Keep up your zeal for cooking and sharing the receipes.

  2. If you are accustomed to really potent flavor (as is the custom in South India), you may want to modify the recipes as follows (I did this and liked the result):

    1. use the same paste recipe but with 1/4 to 1/3 the coconut
    2. 1/2 the amount of chicken (1.25 lbs)
    3. 1/2 amount of onion
    4. 1/2 amount of tomato
    5. 1/2 amount of oil
    6. about 12 curry leaves

    Could be wrong, but the original recipe seems more geared towards an audience that is not wanting really heavy flavor.

  3. Hello Hetal & Anuja,

    Guess what!This dish is cooking RIGHT NOW in my kitchen and my home smells yummy!!! 😛 I’m not a regular cook as mom does all the cooking.Tonight’s dinner was on me and I didn’t think twice before logging in to ur site 🙂

    Menu for tonight:SMTC’s Bhaturas and Chettinad Chicken 😛 Yippeeee!

    Just want to thank you both so very much for being such a blessing to people like us!Love you both xoxox God Bless!!!!

    Raakhee (Doha-Qatar)

  4. Finding fresh, whole spices is not easy where I live and shipping takes quite a while.
    Is there a way of making these with ground versions of the spices?

  5. Hi Anuja / Hetal,

    Thank you for all the lovely yummy recipes. Great cooking show to watch.

    Would like to know if I can use Egg instead of Chicken in this recipe.

    Thanks again !

  6. Hi I am about to try this recipe on Wednesday and wondering if I can substitute cardamon seeds as I have no whole green at the moment. Also the only fresh coconut i could get is young green for drinking will the flesh be ok?

    1. Hi Willow,

      Sorry, we are a little late in answering your question. You can omit the cardamom (because there is really no good substitute) but you cannot use the tender flesh of a young coconut. The taste and texture are very different.

  7. Hello!

    I was wondering if I added coconut milk to this recipe instead – could i still follow this recipe? I was looking elsewhere and well they made a different paste then added the milk later on… I just dont have dry or fresh coconut now… it would also help me for future cooking.


    1. Hi Lovely,

      In the absence of coconut, you could use coconut milk. The taste and texture of coconut milk is somewhat different than actual coconut but it will still delicious.

  8. Hi Hetal n Anuja chechi

    This was my first non-veg curry , and it turned out to be awesome.Thanks to you guys..

    With love

  9. Hi Hetal n Anuja,

    Thanks for this recipe:-)
    Can u please tell is it ok to use dry coconut instead of fresh as it not available in tokyo here? and wat quantity to be taken?


    1. Hi Sunitha,
      It is best to use fresh but dry coconut will also do (if you have no choice). I would use the same amount of coconut and just a suggestion – try looking for fresh frozen coconut, might be easier to come by.
      Good Luck 🙂

  10. Dear Ladies!

    I love your website, every day I’m browsing it for new ideas… and this dish… oh my god! The smell of the spices… I want to put it in a box and open it every five minutes to smell it!

    Thank you for this wonderful work you are doing, and one more thing: about your egg curry, my husband said it is better than his mother’s… you don’t need to hear more I think. 🙂

    All the best to you, god bless you! And of course keep posting! 🙂

  11. Girls, Tried it, and turned out so Yummmmmmyyyy. I have tried d same dish various times before, but I never got it perfect. But your Ingredients mainly the measurements resulted a perfect Chicken Chettinad Curry. Btw, I also added few whole pepper while dry roasting and grinding the paste. Anyway Just wanna let u know that You girls are amazing & Keep Going.

  12. Hi Hetal & Anuja

    I tried this recipe yesterday and it was just awesome…My hubby loved it…Million thanks for the wonderful recipe!!!

    1. Hi,

      I just wanted to say that I don’t believe it’s necessary to examine how Anuja speaks. The truth of the matter is that they’re great cooks who provide us with phenomenal recipes. So lets just enjoy and appreciate their efforts. =)

  13. i live in the middle east and poppy seeds are prohibited in this country.. so please can you give me any alternative for this.??

      1. made this , and it tastes very different from malabaar chicken. another star added to the menu. Thanks girls!

        also, loved the reader tips about handling the smell of spices. So noted and will be implemented soon. 🙂

  14. In response to comment above:
    To KEEP the curry/masala spice out of clothing:
    1. place several small bowls with white distilled vinegar around the house while cooking.
    2. Make a few sachets with fresh ground coffee in them and place them around your clothes closet and in drawers.

    To REMOVE the spice scent from home:
    1. follow steps one and two above.
    2. mix one half gallon water with 1 cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon baking soda and a few drops of dish liquid. Thoroughly apply with sponge to doors, door frames and surfaces that are not wood.
    3.For wood surfaces use murphy’s oil soap at directed. Finish with a good lemon oil or bees wax application.
    4. Generously sprinkle baking soda into any carpeting. Sweep into carpet – let set for 24 hours before vacuuming.

  15. Yummy !!! fresh coconut and tender curry leaves. Drooling! The blender reminds me Sumeeth mixer and grider back home 🙂 Can you guys show us some quick and easy fish recipes. Anyway Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to both of you!!

  16. hi hetal and anuja
    didi its awesome, iam from tamilnadu the perfect spicy chicken curry.
    it goes well with hot hot idlies to the sunday morning.
    thanks for this recipe
    please show some chettinad recipes,specially chettinad fried chicken.

  17. I have one question for you guys. How do you manage your clothes that they dont capture the smell of our indian food and spices. Whatever i do, i cannot make that smell away from my clothes, somtimes for several days.

    1. I too have the same problem..When i go to the gym, my slacks, T-shirts, towel etc smell of the spices.. I also close my room door while cooking but still the smell persists. Of late my friend told me to light a scented candle while cooking..

  18. Hi hetal &anuja
    I am from Austria.I am a great fan of your recipes,i tried more than half of your request is please post pasta recipes with cream ,mushrooms or spinach


  19. Girls, I’m going to make this for dinner tonight! Thanks for the inspiration—

    PS: I love your chicken malabar recipe!–it features quite regularly in my kitchen.

  20. Big fan of you guys. could you pleassse tell how to get those fresh curry leaves in the UK. or the seed to plant them or whatever, I can get the dried ones but they are not as good.

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