Chettinad Masala Chicken

This is a recipe from my family friend Andy Goldstein – it makes an incredibly flavorful chicken curry dish, with a spicy homemade red sauce.  Sourcing fresh spices is key, as the dish relies on the bright flavors of  Serve with naan, raita, and rice.  Adapted from Steffi’s Recipes.


  • 1 kg chicken (preferrably on the bone, but boneless thighs will also work)
  • 10 kashmiri chilies (whole)
  • 1 T coriander seed
  • 2 t cumin seed
  • 1 t fennel seed
  • 1 T peppercorns
  • 1 T chilli flakes
  • 2″ piece of ginger, chopped coarsely
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t tumeric powder
  • 1/4 c yogurt
  • 1/4 c ghee
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 t jaggery (or brown sugar)
  • 2 T butter


  1. To make curry paste, dry roast whole kashmiri chilies over medium-high heat until golden brown and fragrant.  Remove and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, combine coriander, cumin, fennel, peppercorns, and red chilles, and roast until fragrant.  Immediately transfer to a plate to let cool (this prevents the seed from burning).
  3. Combine roasted spices, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, turmeric, salt, and 2 T water in a blender or spice grinder.  Grind into a smooth, thick paste, then combine with yogurt.
  4. Clean chicken, cut into medium sized pieces, and toss with masala sauce.  Marinate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Heat 1/4 c ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat, add diced onion, and cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add chicken pieces, then add jaggery and butter, and stir to combine – cook until chicken is fully done (15-20 minutes or 165F).

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