Mangalorean chicken curry

Mangalorean chicken curry

By
From
I Love India
Serves
4-6
Photographer
Martin Poole

A second Mangalorean dish in one chapter is testament to how much I enjoy the food from this city, located in the state of Karnataka on the west coast of India. It is considered one of the cleanest and least polluted parts of the country. It has always been an important strategic port on the Malabar coast, fought over and passed between different rulers for the last 500 years. The region has always been an exporter of spices, chillies and cashew nuts. A glimpse at the food and you can see an abundance of all those elements. This is probably one of their most famous dishes – rich with roasted spice, coconut sauce and just the right amount of tang from tamarind. In Mangalore it is eaten with the crisp flakes of a thin bread made of rice paste. Alternatively, serve with Skinny Rice Dosas (also a Mangalorean rice bread), Simple, Perfect Rice, Flaky Malabar Paratha, or plain parathas.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

For the spice blend

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
11/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 cloves
2.5cm cinnamon stick or cassia bark
2-4 dried chillies, plus 2 more for the tarka
140g fresh or frozen coconut, grated
10 large garlic cloves
10g finely chopped root ginger, (peeled weight)

For the curry

Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
3 small onions, 1 sliced, 2 finely chopped
salt
1kg skinless bone-in chicken joints, cut into medium pieces
16-18 fresh curry leaves
300ml coconut milk, or to taste
3-4 teaspoons tamarind paste
a little chilli powder, to taste (optional)

Method

  1. Start with the spice blend. In a non-stick frying pan over a low heat, dry-roast all the whole spices and chillies until aromatic and turning colour, 1–2 minutes. Pour into a spice grinder and grind until fine. Add the coconut to the pan and dry-roast over a medium heat until golden. Pour into a blender.
  2. Now for the curry. Heat 1 tbsp of the ghee or oil in the pan over a high heat and fry the sliced onion with some salt until coloured on the edges. Add to the coconut with the ground spices, the garlic, ginger and a splash of water and blend until really smooth.
  3. Heat 2 more tbsp ghee or oil in a large non-stick saucepan over a medium-high heat and add 1 of the chopped onions with some salt; cook until soft, then add the chicken. Sear on all sides, then add the spice blend and a splash more water. Bring to the boil, then cover and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure the pan has not run dry (add a splash more water if it does).
  4. Towards the end of this time, heat up the remaining 1 tbsp ghee or oil in the frying pan and add the curry leaves and the 2 extra dried chillies. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the final onion and cook until well browned.
  5. Meanwhile, add most of the coconut milk and most of the tamarind to the chicken and stir well, then bring to the boil. Add the contents of the tarka pan and stir well. Taste and adjust the seasoning and the tamarind; add some chilli powder if you would like more heat, or a little more coconut milk if you find it too hot.
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