Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Recipe: Chicken Ularthiyathu - Kerala style Chilli Chicken with Coconut

This dish is normally made with beef  and served at the roadside toddy shops (kallu shaap) in Kerala. Most starters served in Kerala's toddy shops are tongue numbingly spicy. I suspect the logic is that the hotter the tongue burns, the more toddy you will consume.

I was looking for something different as a starter using chicken & decided to adapt the Malyali Erachi Ularthiyathu recipe for chicken. There are of course plenty of variations of this dish, but that is the beauty of recipes in India.

1/2kg boneless chicken - cut into strips or cubes - wash, dry and set aside
8-10 black peppercorns
1/2 tsp saunf - fennel seeds
2-3 cloves (lavang)
1" cinnamom
1 cardamom pod
2" ginger
8-10 cloves garlic
3 sprigs curry leaves
2 tbsp red chilli flakes (chilli flakes will be preferable to chilli powder in this recipe)
1tbsp vinegar (I use a coconut toddy vinegar for more flavour)
1 large onion finely sliced.
3-4 green chillies
1/4 cup grated coconut or thin coconut slices (I'm more comfortable grating coconut than slicing it finely, but finely sliced coconut will give you a better flavour and texture)
coconut oil
salt to taste

Heat a frying pan to just below smoking point. Then on a low flame, dry roast the peppercorns, saunf, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon (one ingredient at a time if you aren't sure of cooking times) until they start to release their fragrance.

Put them into a mortar & pestle or the dry grinder attachment of a mixi, or a coffee grinder.
When the spices have cooled,. grind them into a coarse powder.
You can also grind the ginger and garlic into the same spice mix or use ready made pastes.

Marinate the cleaned & dried meat in this spice mixture and also add the chilli flakes, vinegar and 1 sprig of curry leaves.
Marinate anywhere between an hour to 24 hours. Overnight is ideal.

In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp coconut oil and fry the shaved/grated coconut in it. Drain & remove from the pan when light brown.
Add another 2-3 tbsp of coconut oil to the pan.
Fry the onions and green chillies until it turns soft and begins to brown.
Then add the remaining curry leaves, saute for a minute and add the marinated chicken.
Gently saute on a medium flame until the chicken is cooked.
Then add the fried coconut and mix well.

Serve as a snack, or a side with hot rice and dhal or any polis or rotis.

This dish can also be made with beef or mutton, but then you need to add an extra step.
Pressure cook the marinated beef/mutton without any liquid when cooked, dry out any liquid that remains by frying slowly.
Add the cooked beef/mutton at the same stage as the chicken in the above recipe. Fry well with the onion mixture for a minute or so until well coated and then add the fried coconut.

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