We had a cookery lesson in our wonderful hotel Visalam in Chettinad and learned how to make this dish. I think this tastes fairly similar to the one Chef made! Anyway it is delicious, a dry curry, good with chapattis, and benefits from some spicing the Chettiars brought back from Burma – star anise, dried mushrooms – as well as more local ingredients, such as curry leaves and coconut. As ever with Indian and Chinese food, the trick is in the preparation. Line everything up and it doesn’t take long!
2 tbs coconut oil
2 tbsp kalpasia, an Indian dried mushroom. Substitute Chinese or European ceps!
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 inches cinnamon stick
2 star anise
handful curry leaves
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 breasts of chicken, preferably bone-in to keep succulent, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric power or 1/2 inch fresh turmeric peeled and chopped
2 tsp ginger and garlic paste (pound 2 garlic cloves and 3/4 inch of fresh ginger in a pestle and mortar)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp mild Kashmiri chilli poder
1/4-1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
2 tsp coriander powder
coconut cashew paste (blend 1 cup fresh coconut and 5 cashew nuts with some water to make a thick paste)
coriander to garnish
Heat oil in a large wok. Quickly temper the kalpasia/mushrooms, fennel, bayleaf, cinnamon and star anise for a few seconds until aromatic.
Throw in the curry leaves and stir around for a few seconds before adding onions and tomatoes.
Add the chicken pieces and brown all over until sealed.
Then add the salt, ginger and garlic paste,and turmeric and fry for a minute until integrated into the sauce.
Finally add chilli, coriander powder, coconut/cashew paste and pour on a little water (a cupful or so) until chicken mixture is barely covered. Simmer over a high heat for 10-15 minutes (if chicken on bone, or less if off) so that liquid evaporates and leaves you with a thick ‘dry’ curry.
Garnish with coriander and serve with rice or chapatis and a side of vegetables; try a South Indian poriyal. Simply scrumptious as we both testify from last night!