Chettinad Chicken Curry, Glebe Kitchen

In the past, I made One Hundred Almond Chicken Curry from My Bombay Kitchen by Niloufer Ichaporia King … several times, love it, even made sure I bought white poppy seeds for it!

A friend who lives in Fremont, CA, with many good Indian stores, gave me beautiful fresh curry leaves
(+ a little curry leaf plant) for Christmas. The Title recipe calls for coconut milk and fresh curry leaves so I knew I would like it.)

I omitted star anise since I dislike it. Recipe calls for 8 skinless thighs but gives no weights; Indian chickens are much smaller than the chickens in USA grocery stores. I decided to buy one organic chicken from WF, cut into pieces, breasts cut in half, skin removed. (Next time, I’ll save the wings to use for stock since you can’t remove the skin and they take up so much room in the pot.) I bought an extra breast since I only like white meat but it alone was $10 … I should have just bought another chicken. So, my total was $31.

To make the ginger-garlic mixture, you need 6 oz of each + oil + water. Since I only had one head of garlic, I used ½ head + an equal amount of ginger – still had leftover; he says to refrigerate or freeze remainder; I used a mini chopper to puree this.

Recipe said to cook the thighs stove top in the sauce for 20 - 25 minutes … sounds unlikely. My chicken needed about double that time.

Since I was using more chicken, I upped everything 50% except I just used 1 can of coconut milk. No fresh tomatoes so I used a can of Kirkland organic diced tomatoes and included the juice. Since I loved the sauce, I’ll increase those 2 items next time.

The night I made it, it was on the edge of too spicy hot for me but by the next day had mellowed out a lot. Served with plain basmati rice, everyone loved this. (I’m not including my photo, not so pretty, his photos look much better!)

Note: In comments on the recipe, someone asked him why he didn’t include Kalpasi (stoneflower) and he replied he didn’t want to make extreme demands with ingredients … I guess this is common in Tamil Nadu. The friend who gave me the curry leaves discussed this with my daughter and me; to my great surprise, my daughter has some. I asked her “why” … she said she’d noticed the ingredient in several vegetarian recipes and once when she was in an Indian store she found it, bought it but hasn’t yet used it. I was afraid to add it, didn’t know how much to use or when to add.


On a vacation in India, my daughter ordered an appetizer of tomato soup in every restaurant we went to. In SF, an Indian vegetarian restaurant, Udupi, makes a tasty one. Here is my daughter’s recipe, which is really great on a cold, rainy, winter night:

Indian Tomato Soup

1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
2 teaspoons Black Mustard Seeds
I large or two medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 Curry Leaves
¼ teaspoon Cayenne
Black & White Pepper
Creamy Tomato Soup (Trader Joe or Pacific Brand)
2 Tablespoons Butter
½ cup or more of Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons chopped Cilantro

Saute garlic in a Tablespoon of oil, on medium low heat, add dry spices, black, white and red pepper. Add curry leaves. When they sizzle, add one container of pacific brand, or TJ’s creamy tomato soup.

Simmer 5 minutes, add a couple of Tablespoons of butter and ½ cup or more of heavy cream. Heat through, adjust salt, and add two Tablespoons of chopped cilantro.


Three or so pieces, toasted and added to your masala should do it. You can grind it up with the other spices.


Do you like to use it? Smoky taste?

Since I have it, I like it. Took me a while to use it, but I got good advice about it from @Rasam, @Saregama and @fooddabbler . I think it adds an earthy background note.

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I guess the tomato soup I grew up with is “Indian” tomato soup — the main difference to any other is a tempering of cumin and minced garlic in ghee at the beginning, a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes, and the soup is a lot thinner than most people prefer in the US. No cream (as it didn’t exist there in its western form until recently when people starting making western cream-based desserts). A bit of milk off-boil to soften it if needed.


There’s a whole range of dishes that comprise chettinad cuisine (“chettinad chicken” can mean many things), so if you liked this, you’ll enjoy playing with adding other flavor elements and seeing how they change the dish.

Star anise (it’s a small component not an overwhelming flavor), stone flower, toasted coconut, poppy seeds or white sesame seeds, and so on. Each will tweak the dish a bit, and all will create a more complex flavor profile than the base one.

Parottas a nice accompaniment — they’re available frozen at the Indian store (TJs even carried them for a while last year). Rice of course as well.

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I just chopped a lot of onions for dal and it (juice squirting) made the corner of my eyelid swell. This has happened before with onions or if I cry.

Should I wear goggles? What kind?

I just remembered, I’m going to my dental hygienist soon and he makes me wear an eye guard; I think they discard after use so I can probably test that out at home.