chicken, Indian, main course, Southern Indian, spice, spicy
Pepper Chicken ChettinadSunday, October 13, 2013
Recipe adopted from weebs DOES FOOD.
This summer I was asked by a relative if I'd be interested in making an Indian meal for a friend who is originally from Pannur in Tamil Nadu. Although I was a bit hesitant at first (due to knowing little to nothing about Southern Indian cuisine), I accepted the offer. Since then, I have asked around for suggestions on what to make and have done some research to see what I'm in for. Although oversimplified, I noticed the following key points about Southern Indian cuisine.
- Rice and legumes (lentils in specific) are a big deal and are often fermented (like dosa).
- Vegetarian dishes are very popular, but chicken and fish are also served.
- There's no such thing as a dish being too hot (spicy).
- Stews (like sambar) and soups (like rasam) are some of their top dishes.
- Vadai is a deep-fried starter that resembles mini-donuts, and is made from chickpeas or black lentils.
- Authentic meals are served on a banana leaf, making for quite the presentation.
If you haven't attempted Indian dishes yet, the following list of ingredients may seem quite intimidating (understandably so). But after taking a trip to a local Indian market or South Asian market, you'll see that this dish uses fairly common spices and herbs. For the following reasons, I encourage you to visit your local market if you want to experiment with Indian dishes:
- The cost of spices and herbs are almost always significantly lower. If I had to throw a number out there, I would probably say that I pay 10% to 20% of what a typical supermarket would charge for similar spices and herbs.
- The quality is much higher.
- An extensive variety of spices and herbs are often located in one area, making for quick shopping.
- Smaller specialized shops are run by people who know extensive information about their products and have a passion for what they sell. Every time I go to my local Indian grocery store, the owner asks what I plan on making and offers me tips.
3 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
4 cardamom pods, crushed
2 small cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 green chilies, finely chopped
2 sprigs curry leaves, destemmed
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
12 ounces boneless chicken, cubed
0 to 3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon freshly crushed peppercorns
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Begin by carrying out the popular (and highly beneficial) French phrase: mise en place. All this means is that you have everything measured out and ready to go. [Side note: Like any other recipe on this blog, the list of ingredients above is grouped by what ingredients get added at the same time.] Once the ingredients are measured out, prepped, and/or grouped accordingly, you're ready to begin.
Begin by heating a heavy bottomed pot (cast iron or a Dutch oven) over medium heat, and then adding the oil. Once hot, add your mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and bay leaf. After a minute, add the chopped onion and season with salt. Cook and stir until the onions turn a light brown, at least 10 minutes. Next add the turmeric powder, garlic, ginger, chilies, and curry leaves. Cook and stir for a couple more minutes. Add the tomatoes, red chili powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. During this step, the tomatoes will break down and transform the dish into a thick sauce.
Add the chicken and cover for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked. Lastly add the peppercorns. [Side note: The original recipe ended here, but I ended up adding a little bit of water to thin out the sauce. If you think your sauce is too thick, add water by the tablespoon until the desired thickness is met].
Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve. [Side note: The cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, bay leaves, and curry leaves are often left in the dish when served, with the understanding that they should not be consumed.]