Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Mum's Kerala chicken stew

Serves 4 as part of a main meal

Chicken- 1 baby chicken (around 800gms), cut into medium size pieces, and without skin
Coconut oil- 2 tbsp
Cinnamon- 2 inch stick
Cloves- 3
Cardamom- 3
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Onions- 2 scant cups, thinly sliced
Garlic- 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Ginger- 1 1/2 tsp, finely chopped
Green chillies- 2, slit (add more if you want it spicy)
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder- 2 tsp
Fennel powder- scant 1 1/2 tsp (freshly ground)
Pepper powder- 1 1/2 tsp (freshly ground)
Tomato- 1 large, thinly sliced (or 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
Potato- 1 medium, peeled and cut into medium size cubes
Thin coconut milk- 2 cups
Thick coconut milk- 1/2 cup
Garam masala- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste

For tempering
Ghee- 1 tsp
Shallots- 2, roughly chopped
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Meat masala- 1/2 tsp (optional, but def makes a difference)

Heat coconut oil in a pan and add the whole spices.
Once they start to sizzle add the curry leaves, onions, garlic, ginger, green chillies and some salt.
Cook on medium heat till the onions turn a light golden colour and the raw smell of the ginger and garlic disappears.
Make sure you cook the onions properly, but not to the golden crispy stage.
Add the turmeric powder and saute for a minute after which you add the coriander, fennel and 1 tsp pepper powder.
Cook till the raw smell disappears and then throw in the tomato.
Cover and cook till done, and the tomatoes are mushy and oil lightly appears around the edges.
Add the chicken and potato and mix well making sure you coat with the masala as much possible.
Pour in the 2 cups of thin coconut milk, enough salt and cover and cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat. Keep stirring in between.
Once the stew starts boiling and the chicken is almost cooked, stir in the thick coconut milk, remaining pepper powder and garam masala, and salt if needed.
Continue to cook  on medium high for another 10 minutes or so without the lid, till the curry becomes thick and oil surfaces on the top. 
Take it off the heat and keep aside.
Do a tempering with the ghee, shallots, curry leaves and meat masala (without burning the masala) and pour on to the stew. 
Cover with lid and keep aside for about 10 minutes before serving.

Notes: If using coconut milk from a can or coconut cream, remove 1/2 cup of thick milk/cream and to the rest add enough water to make it 2 cups. Stir well and then add to the curry. This is the thin coconut milk. The 1/2 cup kept aside is to be used at the end.
The stew tastes much nicer the next day
Make sure the curry gets to the 'vatticha' state and not watery. It should be thick.