Chicken Chettinad

Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking: 30 minutes | Serve:4

Chicken Chettinad

Here is the recipe for the special chicken Chettinad, the major among the popular dishes you must try once you visit Chennai, India. Chicken Chettinad is unique and entirely different from other chicken masala dishes of any other part of the country. The unique spice blend is what brings in the authentic taste of chicken Chettinad. Once you know the spice blend, no matter in which part of the world you are, you can quickly make chicken Chettinad which exactly tastes the same as the ones you get in any Tamil restaurants.

You will find many variations of chicken Chettinad, but I’m putting own a recipe I have tried many times and approved by my friends and family. I’m sure you will love this Chettinad recipe, and the distinct flavors depend significantly on the spices used, and the flavors differ as per the spices used.

Chicken Chettinad dish belongs to the authentic Chettinad cuisine of Tamilnadu which is enriched by the liberal usage of aromatic Indian spices and therefore the final dish will be very spicy, flavorful and aromatic.

Chettinad chicken masala blend:

Unlike any other chicken dishes, this Chettinad chicken curry is exceptionally spicy mainly due to the spice blend used in the recipe. In this recipe, I have used spices to a minimum to bring in the taste of the meat used. However, you can experiment with the spices used.

Some of the other spices using in this recipe are;

  • Star anise
  • Cloves
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon

Some recipes use coconut long with freshly roasted spice, but I have omitted coconut in this recipe.

Traditional chicken Chettinad is a blend of authentic south Indian spices cooked to perfect with chicken. This recipe has thick spicy gravy which tastes the best when enjoyed with rice or crispy Indian Dosa. This recipe has a lot of space to experiment with the spices if you want to add more aroma and flavor to the recipe. You can also add the spices directly to the blender, but dry roasting it gives a fantastic fragrance. This Chettinad chicken recipe is a must try dish during special occasions or festivals like Pongal or any other south Indian festival in Tamilnadu.

Using coconut oil instead of vegetable oil gives an authentic taste to it. If you want to make it creamy and delicious, then you may use ghee instead of coconut oil. Ghee enriches and enhances the taste of the dish. As most people would imagine it to be, Chettinad chicken is not a complicated dish. It is effortless to prepare, and dry roasting spices will not take much time. Using pearl onions or small onions enhances the intense flavors of Chettinad chicken.

This distinctly aromatic and fiery recipe has a lot of flavors going in, so finding the right mix of spices is the key to make this authentic dish. The base that adds a signature to this Chettinad chicken curry is the freshly ground spices, ginger, garlic, and chilies.

As I don’t like adding tomatoes in chicken, I have omitted to add tomato to this chicken curry. Tomatoes also add a tangy taste to the curry which might take off the authentic taste of the spices.


For tempering:

  •  Oil – 3 to 4 tablespoons
  • Saunf/Fennel seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon stick- 2 small pieces
  • Black stone flower/DagadFul, roughly chopped – 1 tablespoon

For spice blend:

  •  Fennel seeds 1 tablespoon
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tablespoon
  • Coriander seeds – 1 tablespoon
  • Whole black peppercorns – 1 tablespoon
  • Dry red chili – 2-3

 For the gravy:

  •  Chicken – 700grams (Use chicken with bones or boneless)
  • Onions/shallots – 2 large
  • Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  • Garlic cloves, finely chopped- 6
  • Coriander powder – ½ teaspoon
  • Red Chili powder – ½ teaspoon
  • Garam masala powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Black pepper powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Coriander leaves, freshly chopped – 1 tablespoon
  • Water – 100 ml
  • Lemon juice – 2 tablespoons (optional)
  • Salt – To taste


  1.  Clean the chicken pieces and marinate with salt and lemon juice. But this step is completely optional and not there in the original version of the recipe. Marinating the chicken with salt and lemon juice will increase the flavor.
  2. Dry roast all the ingredients given under spice blend till roasted well and fragrant.
  3. Put the roasted spices in the blender and add 2 tablespoons of water and blend until
  4. Now heat a thick pan or wok and add oil to When it is hot, turn the flame to low and add the ingredients under “for tempering” till the cumin crackles and spices are fragrant.
  5. Now add finely sliced onions or shallots and sauté for some time. Add a handful curry leaves and cook till onions become soft.
  6. Add finely chopped garlic to the mixture and sauté till aromatic.
  7. Now add the chicken pieces and stir well so that the onion mixture and chicken get mixed well.
  8. Add in the roasted spice blend paste and mix well so that each chicken piece gets coated with spice mixture. Season with salt
  9. Add coriander powder, red chili powder, garam masala powder and freshly ground black pepper and mix all nicely.
  10. Add about half cup of water to the pan and let it simmer for two minutes or till you get a thick gravy.
  11. Serve hot with rice or any Indian flatbread.


  • I used Kashmiri chili here; you can use any chili of your choice.
  • If you don’t get a black stone flower, you can use an extra piece of cinnamon stick.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 300|Fats: 5gm |Cholesterol: 60mg|Sodium: 1060mg|Protein: 26gm |Dietary fiber: 17gm

The authentic Chettinad chicken is hot and spicy with the main source of heat coming from the peppercorns and red chilies used, and if you want to have less hot food, you can reduce the chili content. Make sure to use organic red chilies and peppers to get the boldest and delicious flavor. The freshness of the spices used plays a major role in the enhancing the flavors of the dish.

Don’t forget to share your valuable comments and opinions once you try this fantastic chicken Chettinad at home.