Interested in a real spice grenade that’s easily and quickly made? Then Pepper Chicken Chettinad is definitely the right: A fantastic dish from the Chettinad region of southern India with a magnificent variety of flavors: spicy, hot, fresh and peppery. Who can not get enough of spices (like me) will simply love this dish.
The preparation is really not difficult, although many smaller ingredients are included. The most you get at Asia markets for little money. A vegetarian or vegan version can also be made with tofu.
500g skinless chicken breast, cut into small pieces
1 heaped teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
2 small cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
2 star anise
5 cardamom pods
1 handful of curry leaves
2 onions, finely chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
1 heaped tbsp turmeric
1-3 green chillies (according to your personal taste)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
3 tomatoes, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic
1 small bunch fresh chopped coriander leaves
Before you start, you should quickly make garlic and ginger paste. The easiest way to do so is mixing it with a little salt and a teaspoon of water in a small blender or mortar.
Then heat the oil in a heavy pan and let the mustard seeds crackle in the hot oil (in any case, make sure that they crackle, otherwise they’ll taste bitter), also add cumin seeds. Now add whole “Garam Masala” (an Indian mixture of whole spices): cinnamon sticks, cloves, bay leaves, star anise and cardamom pods and fry briefly. Now add the chopped onions with a pinch of salt into the pan over medium heat. Fry them until they turn slightly brown. This may take several minutes to complete.
Once the onions have taken color, add turmeric, ginger-garlic paste, green chillies and the curry leaves. As soon as everything has cooked a few minutes, add the tomatoes into it. Also add chili, cumin and coriander powder and stir well. Once again simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes lose out their juices and gradually blend together with the spices into some kind of paste you can call Masala (here: Chettinad Masala).
Now put the chicken breast in and thoroughly mix with the Chettinad Masala. Put a lid on and cook for about 5-6 minutes. The chicken meat will be cooked to perfection (if you doubt that, cut a piece to see if it may need another minute or two). After that process the liquids have created an aromatic sauce and – without having added water separately – the dish has a perfect consistency! A really nice trick!
While the chicken is cooking in the closed pan, crush the peppercorns in a mortar and then add them to the dish. Season with salt and sprinkle the chopped fresh coriander on top. Serve with rice.