Loads of water, greenery, and really picturesque is the best I can say about Kuttanad…a region in the Alleppey district of Kerala. Kuttanad is the rice bowl of Kerala, and is resplendent in green paddy fields, coconut groves and water fowl. My sister-in-law is from Champakulam, a part of Kuttanad which is an important tourist spot and is famous for the Moolam boat race. The river Pampa flows through this village. We just love going and spending atleast one day of our busy schedule when we go to India, at her family home. It really soothens you and brings peace from within.
You get to buy fresh sea food, sold to you directly by fishermen, who come in their snake boats with their catch for the day. And then you get to enjoy the fish, prawns, duck and chicken cooked in the traditional Kuttanadan style by the house help there, while over looking the backwaters and seeing house boats pass by with foreigners in it. It’s a total bliss.
This is a recipe that one of the ladies I know, who hails from Kuttanad gave me. It’s different from your normal roasts. And traditionally they use only chopped green chillies. But I’ve put in more Kashmiri red chilli powder because I’ve a small toddler eating with us too and don’t want him biting into any chillies. Plus, adding chilli powder gives this red color too! My husband loves it and this is a
“please-give-me-some-more” recipe, when we have guests over.
- Chicken- 1 whole, cut into pieces
- Onions – 6, thinly sliced ( they use a lot of onions which thickens the gravy)
- Green Chillies – 2-3 slit lengthwise
- Tomato – 1 small, chopped
Ginger garlic paste- 2 tbsp ( fresh please)
Coconut Oil – 1/4 cup
Chilli powder – 1 tablespoon
Garam masala – 2 teaspoons ( Don’t use store bought garam masala for this recipe. Make one at home by grinding together 1 cardamom, 4-5 cloves, 3 teaspoons fennel seeds and about 3-4 cinnamon sticks.)
Ingredients to Marinate the chicken
- Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon
- Chilli powder – 2 teaspoons
- Garam Masala – 1 teaspoon (home-made)
- Black pepper powder – 1 teaspoon (freshly ground)
- Salt, to taste
- water – enough to make a thick paste
Wash and cut the chicken into pieces.
Then prepare the marinade by mixing all the ingredients together (chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala, pepper, salt and water). Let the chicken marinate in it for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a deep bottomed saucepan, heat coconut oil, add the onions and saute till it becomes translucent.
Then add the ginger garlic paste, tomatoes, green chillies and curry leaves. Saute till the whole mixture softens and leaves the sides of the pan.
Then add in the spices – chilli powder and garam masala. Saute again for a minute.
Now, add the marinated chicken pieces and let it cook with the whole spice mixture for about 5 minutes. At this stage you have 2 options:
1. You can either let the chicken cook in the same pan for about 30-45 minutes on medium-low heat, such that it slowly absorbs in all the spices. When the chicken’s cooked and the gravy is almost thickened, add some more curry leaves and check salt. If you note the chicken’s cooked, but still there’s too much gravy, then cook it on high flame uncovered. Make sure the bottom doesn’t get burnt. ( I normally choose Option 1 because I believe more in slow cooking)
2. Or after you’ve added the marinated chicken to the spices, now transfer the whole of it into a pressure cooker and let it cook for 2 whistles. Once the steam goes off and the cooker cools, transfer it back to the first pan, and let it cook on medium heat, so that the gravy thickens further and it coats the chicken well. Also do check salt. You can add more curry leaves during this stage. (If you’re short on time and don’t mind washing another dish, then go for Option 2).
Serve hot with rice, chapathi, parotta, nan, appam, etc.