Chicken Chettinad

If you love spices, you will love this Chicken Chettinad recipe! This tender, spiced chicken uses over 15 spices, giving you an incredibly flavorful dish. Even though it uses so many spices, it can still be on your table in less than 1 hour.

Chicken Chettinad in a serving dish.

Step by Step Video Instructions


For the Chettinad Paste:

Sesame Oil: Has a robust flavor which adds an undertone of flavor to the fragrant base for the spice paste.

Whole Spices: Includes fennel seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, bay leaf, star anise, cloves, both varieties of cardamom, and cinnamon stick, each contributing layers of flavor.

Dried Red Chilies: Mundu chilies are traditional for Chettinad and add moderate heat. If unavailable, you can use Kashmiri red chilies for a milder heat or another type of dried red chili pepper.

Coriander Seeds and Poppy Seeds: These seeds add depth and texture to the paste.

Grated Coconut: It softens the heat of the chilies and binds the spices together with its subtle sweetness and richness.

Cashews: Help thicken the paste, adding a touch of creaminess.

Kalpasi (optional): A unique fungi that add an earthy undertone. If unavailable, you can omit this ingredient.

Curry Leaves: Fresh curry leaves are preferred for their vibrant flavor, but frozen can also be used as a convenient alternative.

Cooking Ingredients:

Whole Spices for Cooking: Fennel seeds, cumin seeds, bay leaf, cloves, green and black cardamom pods, and star anise further enhance the dish’s aromatic profile.

Spice Powders: The trio of turmeric, Kashmiri chili, and coriander powders enriches the dish with color and warmth.

Ginger Garlic Paste: If fresh paste isn’t available, a homemade mix of equal parts minced garlic and ginger works perfectly as a substitute.

Peeled Shallots and Red Onion: Add a mild sweetness and contribute to the sauce’s texture, becoming tender upon cooking.

Diced Tomato: Adds a gentle acidity, helping to balance the spices.

Fresh Cilantro: Adds a final burst of fresh, herbal flavor when mixed through the finished dish.

Chicken Chettinad in a pot.

Expert Tips

Blending the Chettinad Paste: To achieve the perfect texture for your Chettinad paste, it’s important not to overblend. This can make the paste too smooth and cause the oils to separate, leading to an overly oily sauce. Aim for a slightly chunky consistency by pulsing the paste in the blender only a couple of times. This texture should be slightly chunky.

Reducing Waste: After transferring the Chettinad paste from the blender, add a little water and the lid, then gently shake the blender. Then pour it into your cooking pan. This trick gets any residual stuck at the bottom and slides of the blender, reducing wastage and ensuring your dish is as flavorful as possible.

Handling Red Chilies: The choice and preparation of red chilies will greatly affect the heat level of your chicken Chettinad. If you prefer a milder dish, use a mild red chili like Kashmiri chilies. If you like spice, you can use a hotter chili. Another tip is to leave the seeds in if you want more spice and remove them to reduce the spice.

Storage and Leftovers

Storing Leftovers: If you have leftovers, let them cool to room temperature before transferring them into an airtight container. This dish keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reheating: To reheat, you have two convenient options. For stovetop reheating, gently heat the chicken Chettinad over medium heat, adding a splash of water if the sauce has thickened. Stir occasionally and cook until the chicken is hot throughout. Alternatively, for a quick method, place the chicken Chettinad in a microwave-safe container, cover it, and heat on high for 3 minutes. Then, continue heating in 30-60 second intervals, stirring in between, until hot throughout.

Chicken Chettinad on a kitchen table.


What can I serve with Chicken Chettinad?

Chicken Chettinad pairs beautifully with steamed rice, which complements its rich flavors and absorbs the aromatic sauce.

Can I prepare Chicken Chettinad in advance?

Chicken Chettinad can be made in advance; its flavors will also meld when stored. Store it in the refrigerator and reheat it on either the stove or in the microwave.

Is Chicken Chettinad spicy?

The spice level of chicken Chettinad can be adjusted according to your preference. Use fewer chilies or deseed them for a milder version, or add more if you enjoy heat.

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Chicken Chettinad in a serving dish.

Chicken Chettinad

If you love spices, you will love this Chicken Chettinad recipe! This tender, spiced chicken uses over 15 spices, giving you an incredibly flavorful dish. Even though it uses so many spices, it can still be on your table in less than 1 hour.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 559 kcal


Chettinad Paste (Spice Paste)

  • 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • ½ Tsp Fennel Seeds
  • ½ Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 4 Cloves
  • 3 Green Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Black Cardamom Pod
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 10 Dried Red Chilies mundu chilies are traditional
  • 1 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
  • 2 tsp A small piece of Kalpasi Dagad Phool, optional
  • 12 Curry Leaves
  • 100 gram Grated Coconut 1/2 cup
  • 1 Tsp Poppy Seeds
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 10 g Cashews


  • 1 kg Chicken
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • ½ Tsp Fennel Seeds
  • ½ Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 Cloves
  • 4 Green Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Black Cardamom Pod
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 3 Dried Red Chilies
  • 100 g Shallots peeled
  • 50 g Red Onion sliced
  • 1 Tomato diced
  • ½ Tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 Tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder
  • 1 ½ Tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  • Fresh Cilantro chopped
  • 10 Curry Leaves
  • 1 tsp Salt


Prepare Chettinad Paste:

  • In a large deep sauté pan or a Karai, heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over medium heat. Add fennel seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, bay leaf, cloves, both green and black cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, dried red chilies, coriander seeds, star anise, poppy seeds, kalpasi (if using), cashews, and curry leaves. Toast until fragrant.
  • Add grated coconut, cooking until it turns golden brown. Allow to cool, then transfer to a blender and pulse a couple of times until you have a chunky paste.


  • Using the same pan or Karai, heat another tablespoon of sesame oil. Sauté green cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, star anise, black cardamom, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, shallots, dried red chilies, and curry leaves until shallots start to soften.
  • Add the sliced red onion and cook until translucent and slightly browned. Mix in the diced tomatoes, ginger garlic paste, Kashmiri chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric, and salt, and cook until the tomatoes are softened.
  • Add the chicken, season with salt, and increase the heat to sear, stirring occasionally. Stir in the prepared Chettinad paste and 1 cup of water, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro before serving.


Calories: 559kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 49gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 17gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 129mgSodium: 2682mgPotassium: 1379mgFiber: 9gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 510IUVitamin C: 119mgCalcium: 148mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Chicken Chettinad
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