One of my go-to proteins is chicken. Super easy to cook, extremely versatile in terms of flavour and comes together pretty fast. Great for weekday dinners! I love experimenting with chicken and trying flavours from different cuisines. Not only does this give us variety for our meals, but also helps me learn and love many more styles of cooking. This recipe is adapted from some of Malayali food I’ve had over the years (aka food from Kerala or Mallu food :)). Mallu food is super delicious, peppery, punchy and downright awesome! I make it a point to try as many restaurants and recipes of this cuisine as I can. This pepper chicken is an attempt to bring some of that awesomeness into my kitchen.
I find that most food from Kerala is not fussy while packing a punch in terms of flavour. This recipe is no exception. It has extremely basic ingredients and is something you should definitely add to the weekday menu. Or when you’re feeling a little under the weather and need something punchy to wake you up – this is it!
The base is spices, onions, tomatoes with a little punch through green chillies and some extra flavour via curry leaves. Given that this is food from the south of India, more mustard seeds are used as opposed to cumin seeds that more prevalent in the north.
Fresh curry leaves add aroma, flavour and pops of colour to a dish and have a very distinctive taste. To me, they really transform a dish ❤
Tomatoes are great to add a little acidity, little sweetness and of course, texture. They really balance out the spice in this dish.
This dish has no extra water added to it, just the water released from the chicken as it cooks. One thing I have started to do off late (which I think has really helped my cooking) is to let the chicken sear and brown on high heat for a few minutes, before reducing the heat and letting it cook through. This helps to add some lovely colour to the dish and intensifies the taste of the chicken too.
After searing, it looks lovely and brown and you know it’s going to taste divine!
Once the chicken is cooked through, but still moist, you’re done! Mop this up with some appam or neer dosa or even simple chapattis work. Yumss!
1 kg bone-in chicken – I use the curry cut version
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp fennel (saunf) seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 onions – diced finely
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 green chillies – slit length wise
4 sprigs curry leaves
1 large tomato – diced
1/2 tsp turmeric (haldi) powder
1/2 tsp coriander (dhania) powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1.5 tsp pepper powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
salt to taste
- Wash and dry the chicken pieces. Marinade them in salt, lemon juice and pepper for about 30 minutes
- Once ready, heat oil in a pan. Add fennel and mustard seeds.
- As the seeds splutter, add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes till they become soft and golden.
- Add ginger garlic paste and cook for a minute till raw smell goes away
- Add the chillies and curry leaves. Cook for 30s.
- Add the tomatoes, turmeric powder, coriander powder and a pinch of salt.
- Let this cook for about 5-10 minutes till the tomatoes become soft and oil releases from the sides of the mixture.
- Now add the marinated chicken pieces and cook on high heat for 5-8 minutes till the chicken becomes slightly brown. Stir now and then to ensure pieces don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add garam masala and pepper and mix well. Cook for about 2 mins.
- Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for about 20 minutes.
- Uncover the pan, cook till dome (another 5-10 minutes). This helps the gravy to dry out given the jammy texture that is so delicious.
- Adjust salt and serve!