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Recipe: South Indian Ghee Chicken Curry

May 23, 2022 12:52 IST
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Ramanunni Nair ties together the tanginess of tomatoes with Indian spices to create a simple but sumptuous South Indian Ghee Chicken Curry that can be savoured any day of the week with steamed rice or rotis.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Marlin Varghese

South Indian Ghee Chicken Curry

Serves: 3-4


  • 750 gm chicken, cleaned and cut into 10-12 pieces
  • 4 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 5-6 dried red chillies
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 tomatoes, blanched, deskinned
  • ½-piece ginger, peeled
  • 2-3 peeled garlic pods
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • ½ tsp haldi or turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilly powder, optional
  • 4-5 shallots, finely chopped, or 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped green dhania or coriander or cilantro leaves
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 tbsp ghee
  • Curry leaves, optional
  • Salt to taste


  • On a tava dry roast the coriander seeds, red chillies, peppercorns for 2 minutes.
    Take off heat, cool and grind to a fine powder in a blender/mixer.
  • Finely chop the blanched tomatoes and add to the ground masala and blend to a smooth paste.
    Keep aside.
  • Crush the ginger, garlic, green chillies in a mortar and pestle until a fine paste.
  • In a kadhai, heat the oil.
    Add the ginger-garlic-chilly paste.
    Saute for a minute.
    Add the chicken pieces.
    Add the turmeric and the salt.
    Mix well.
    Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
    Add the tomato masala paste and stir.
    Add 1 cup of water and mix.
    Check for salt and add more if required.
    Add the Kashmiri chilly powder to get a red-colour gravy.
    Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
  • In a tempering pan, heat the ghee.
    Add the curry leaves and the chopped onions.
    Saute for 1-2 minutes until the onions change colour.
    Add this to the chicken gravy and mix.
    Garnish with the freshly chopped coriander leaves.
    Serve hot with steamed rice, rotis, Malabar parottas or bread and papad, green chillies and sliced onions on the side.

Note: South Indian Ghee Chicken Curry pairs well with Divya Nair's Kerala Potato Ishtu.

For a low-cal version of the South Indian Ghee Chicken Curry recipe, please reduce the ghee and oil as little as possible.

The same gravy and masalas can be used to prepare a bhindi or lady's finger or baigan or eggplant curry using ½ kg bhindi or baigan that has been pre-pan-fried.

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