Chettinad Pepper Chicken

Say the words 'Chettinad Cuisine' and instantly the mind conjures up images of spicy food. But the truth is that Chettinad food is so much more than just chillies, of course.

Know Your Cuisine: Chettinad.

  • Originating from the Chettinad region in Tamil Nadu, the unique feature of this cuisine is the freshly ground, fragrant blend of spices used in the masalas. 
  • It is considered to be one of the spiciest flavour profiles in Indian cuisine.
  • While the presentation may often appear simple, the compexity of flavours arises from the perfect mixture of various spices including not just pepper and turmeric but also star anise, cloves, bay leaves, fennel, fenugreek et al.
  • Adapting to the dry and humid Chettinad region resulted in another unique characteristic of their cooking - the use of sun dried vegetables & meats, a technique perfected to preserve food for the off-seasons.
  • The long coastline does mean that they are masters of seafood too though, excelling in fish, prawn and crab dishes. And yes, they too are very much on the spicier side.

This version of Chettinad Pepper Chicken does away with the usual vegetables like onions and tomatoes and aims to allow the flavourful spices to be the star of the show.

The final product is an absolutely gorgeous chicken dish that any Chettinad cuisine aficionado will tell you goes brilliantly with rice or rice based preparations like appams, idlis and idiappams, with a nice chilled buttermilk to calm your palate.

Chettinad Pepper Chicken


Chicken pieces... 1/2 kg,
Ginger... a small piece
Garlic... 8 cloves
Pepper... 4 teaspoons
Oil/ghee... 50 gms
Turmeric powder... 1/4 teaspoon
Cinnamon... 1/4 inch piece
Cloves... 4
Water... 1 cup
Salt... as required
Ghee... 3 tablespoons

Chettinad Pepper Chicken


  • Prepare a paste by grinding garlic, ginger, pepper and coconut.
  • Heat ghee in a vessel & add cinnamon, cloves and turmeric. Fry till you get a nice aroma.
  • Now add the chicken pieces and the ground masala.
  • Saute well. Add 1 cup water and cook the chicken.
  • When the chicken is almost done, keep a pan on flame and add 3 teaspoons of ghee. 
  • Fry the cooked chicken in a low flame till it turns crispy.
  • Serve hot with rice or appams.

Chettinad Pepper Chicken recipe
Click the image to convert it to its full size and download the recipe

Expect to see the odd food recipe like this at Godyears too - all prepared by my mother - from recipes she has collected as far back as the 1980's - with some unique to Kerala cuisine and some variations of international dishes. 

Since the goal is to share, I will be looking to make all the recipes into easy downloadable single images as well so that you can save them on to your mobile/device and use them offline. Of course, if you do try them out, it would be awesome if you gave me (and her) feedback here on what you thought of the dish.

For the list of all the recipes so far (including seafood, egg dishes, sweets, twists on traditional dishes et al), click here:
For more food posts,  you can just check out the Category on Godyears labeled "Foodgasm" here.

Author's Update (4.3.16): 

Less than 24 hours after the recipe was posted and lots of lovely cooks around the world have already messaged in with their impressions of the recipe. Thank you all for the love.
It means a lot, especially to my Mom. 




Esha said…
Awesome! Will try this one out...we love all kinds of Chicken recipes :)
Nisha Sanjeev said…
This looks super tempting. I am quite fond of chicken dishes and Chicken prepared Chettinad way is one of my favorites. You are doing a great job by sharing your Mom's recipes. It is a great idea Doc.
Rajiv Verma said…
This looks damn fantastic Doc! I just hope I will be able to gather the 'courage' to attempt it soon.

payal agarwal said…
I am fond of vegetarian food, but I am sure my parents will love it! :)
Rachna said…
This looks so yummy. A comprehensive recipe. I have bookmarked it.
Ooh... then you'll love this one. Check out this one too: something different.
Kerala style Chicken meatballs.
Thanks :)
She really does enjoy it too so this seems like a logical next step to showcase her talents.
Let me know if they like it :D
Please do check it out. Its totally worth it.
Thanks Rajiv. Do try it out. Chettinad cuisine is really lovely.
This looks delish Doc... and the pics like Zee said are so pro-like! Is Chettinad easily available where you are? Whatever I have tried of the Chettinad cuisine seemed too fiery for my taste...
Rafeeda AR said…
Pinned! Will try this soon...
Ekta Khetan said…
I love Chettinad cuisine purely for its unique and spicey flavors. It's hot maccha :)
Oh, I've been looking for recipes that don't follow the "fry onions, then add tomatoes" format! This looks delish!!!
Rajiv Verma said…
There's no doubt that Chettinad cuisine is mouthwatering. The doubt is about my *skills* which are next to none ;)
Shalini said…
She is a Master Chef! I will definitely try this version! :)
Cathy Graham said…
This sounds so delicious. I can practically smell all the spices. Would love to try it. I love Indian cuisine and love going out to an Indian restaurant and having the expert chefs make my dinner for me. Also we have friends from Bangladesh who invite us over sometimes and I just love all the dishes they make. Sure beats the heck out of bland Canadian night after night! I'm enjoying learning more about Indian cuisine through the BAR members.
Anonymous said…
This beauty pops up just when I have convinced myself for dal and karela tonight!Will Surely try it. Belated b'day wishes to your mom :-)

Please do. And let me know if you like it
Actually yes. I'm in a place which is a foodies delight, especially for non vegetarians. Yes, Chettinad cuisine is really spicy but not just chillies and all. Its a nice mix of many spices.
Haha.. Yes. Its really hot :)
That's what makes it awesome!
Yes. I know what you mean. While I enjoy the combination, it's too mundane and easy. This is way more fun and flavourful :)
Please do and let her know. She'd be delighted to hear your opinion.
Haha.. All the best with that diet :)
The fun part about Indian cuisine is the wide variety. Kolkata cuisine varies from Mughlai cuisine which varies from Malabar which...Well, you get the idea :)
But that's a good thing - so many options! And as you can see, so many ways to use spices.
Haha.. With practice, we turn from student to master, young Kung-fu Panda :)
Rajiv Verma said…
Haha... let me try it tonite ;)
Vinodini Iyer said…
I'm going to try this recipe this weekend. I'm sure the ghee adds a wonderful flavor to the chicken!
Do take pics and if you liked it, share it with me. Mom would love to know how it turned out.
suja mohan said…
Oh wow!
Wish this had come in my line of vision when my kids had come home....
Hoping to try it when they come next
Definitely do so... many already did and really liked it
Vinodini Iyer said…
Just did :)
Vinodini Iyer said…
Just did :)
Nisha said…
Loooks so yum!! And so many fans already! Now I know why you can't stop eating :P
Now you know why I will never have a six pack!
shyni sajith said…
Just gone through your blog, excellent job. Seen food posts in KFG, but seen your blog today only. Will try this chicken chettinad fry. thanks for the recipe.
Thanks. Do try it out and let me know what you thought of it..
anindya said…
Send me some to Kolkata. You must do some more food blogging . Will love to read more from you on food and your cuisine. But will DM you my address please send some
Thanks Anindya... would love to in a blog that already caters to all genres :) The idea of focusing on one cuisine in particular sounds nice.
Reshmy Pillai said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reshmy Pillai said…
Machha...what happens if I marinate it overnight in the grounded masala before cooking? Tomorrow the mister gets pepperified!