Friday, August 20, 2010

Dry Chili Chicken

Chicken Varuval

From left, top to bottom: cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, 
cloves, dried red chili, cumin seeds, fennel seeds
ground black pepper, ground coriander, curry leaves
chili powder, turmeric
The parboiled chicken

Golden brown onions
The cuisine of south India is quite predominant in Malaysia and one of my favorite dishes is the Chicken Varuval or Chettinad Chicken which is a dry curry. I usually make it with chicken breast because Keith doesn’t like eating chicken on the bone. However, cooking it with chicken pieces on the bone actually results in a much tastier dish. Over the years I have adapted the recipe from the original that was given to me when I first started working more than 17 years ago by a colleague who used to make it with mutton. I also learnt from one of my former staff members whose family owned an Indian restaurant that they parboil the chicken to speed up the cooking process. This is a very popular recipe in Southern Indian restaurants and I’m sure you’ll like it once you’ve tried it. It is really good as part of a rice meal or eaten with chappati.

Serves 8

5 pounds chicken (chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes or 1 whole chicken, chopped into small pieces)
½ cup oil
3 onions, cut in half then thinly sliced
1½ bulb garlic
4" ginger
2 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
8 cloves
8 cardamom pods
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
8 dried red chili
10 curry leaves
4 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp sugar
Salt to taste
Juice from 1 lime
  • In a large pot, cover chicken with water, add ½ tsp turmeric, ½ tsp chili powder and ½ tbsp salt. Bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat to a simmer, cook chicken for 30 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
  • Blend garlic and ginger with ½ cup water.
  • Heat oil, fry the sliced onions until golden brown (about 20 minutes), then add the cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cardamom, cumin seed, fennel seeds, dried chili and curry leaves and fry for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Add the garlic-ginger paste and cook another minute
  • Add the chicken, stir until well coated with the spices. Lower heat and add in the chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric, ground black pepper, sugar and salt to taste and fry for 10 minutes or until chicken is tender. 
  • Lastly add in the lime juice, mix well.

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