Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nadan Kozhi Curry - Kerala Style Chicken Curry


Sunday chicken curry is such an integral part of the Syrian Christian community in Kerala that I cannot imagine how I never posted about it. For most people, Sunday involves getting up when dawn just breaks the horizon, wearing their best clothes, and attending the holy mass at church. This is usually followed by lunch at home with the once a week side dish of meat, mostly chicken. Years back, this used to be a fun filled meal with family and cousins, a fat hen being chased down and caught by an expert uncle or grandmother, lazy conversations that went on at the dining table even after the chicken gravy had dried on our fingers and hens clucking nearby hoping to be fed bits of chicken (probably not knowing that it was their dear dead cousin).

The scene has changed so much today. Now, Sunday for me is all about getting up seriously late, when I can no longer bear my bladder's protests. Why I would go to church to seek out god when he lives right in my heart, I reason with my conscience. But the Sunday chicken is still on. I often wake up to the smell of chicken cooking from my neighbour's apartment, or my own (courtesy my mother), and I so love it. 

The Naaden Kozhi Curry involves cooking the chicken in its own juices along with slightly bruised spices and fresh ginger and garlic. Once the chicken is juicy and infused with the aromatic spices, plenty of sautéed onions are added, along with fried slices of coconut, which is perhaps the most sought after part of the dish. The entire dish is cooked till the sauce reaches a bare minimum, and every bite of chicken is packed with the flavours of all the spices that Kerala is home to. For the authentic Kerala taste, coconut oil is a must.


1 kg chicken, on the bone, cut into medium sized pieces (approximately 30 pieces) and cleaned
1 tablespoon piece ginger, finely chopped + 8-10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cardamom + 5 cloves + 1" piece cinnamon + 1 star anise + 2 pinches of mace (jathi pathiri) + 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, slightly bruised using mortar and pestle
1 table red chili powder + 1 tablespoon coriander powder + 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
To taste, salt

2 large onions cut into thin long slices
1.5 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 tablespoons ginger julienned + 2 tablespoons garlic julienned
1 sprig curry leaves
4 tablespoon oil, preferably coconut oil
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced pieces of coconut (1.5" long slices)
1 teaspoon red chili powder + 1 teaspoon coriander powder
3/4 tablespoon pepper powder + 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder


Mix together all the ingredients labeled A, and let it marinate for 15 - 20 minutes.

In a large pot, cook the marinated chicken over a low heat till it is completely cooked. While cooking, add a quarter cup of hot water, if you find the chicken sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once the chicken is cooked, boil off excess juices.

In a large pan, heat the oil. Crackle the mustard seeds. Add ginger and garlic, and then toss in the sliced onions. Sauté the onions till they brown lightly. Add the chili powder, coriander powder and salt, and sauté over a low flame. Then add the coconut slices and curry leaves and continue sautéing till the onions have turned golden brown. Add the chicken pieces and continue sautéing till the onions have coated all the chicken pieces well. Sprinkle over the pepper powder and garam masala and mix well. 


This curry is quite fiery, as is the curry served in most homes in Kerala. For a milder version, reduce the quantity of spice and chili powder - drastically. Serve hot with rice.

Click here for another great Kerala Style Chicken curry recipe with thick gravy.

I am submitting this recipe to Kerala Kitchen event hosted by Erivum Puliyum. Enjoy other wonderful recipes from Kerala in the event.


  1. the line about the chicken clucking to eat their dead cousin was funny :D

  2. adipoli dear,just drooling over the flavorful recipe,yummy!
    Thanx for linking:-)
    Ongoing Events at(Erivum Puliyum)-
    1. The Kerala Kitchen(June'12)

    2.EP Series-Basil OR Cardamom

  3. It was beef curry which was special for us on sundays. The cocks and hens were reserved for the unexpected guests.

    1. :D, I absolutely love beef too...

    2. But sadly beef was never a regular at home...

  4. Looks really tasty! I am sure the clay pot you have used will really make a big difference in flavor. Yum!

  5. Beautiful picture...beautiful recipe

  6. oh myy... when i clicked on this on foodgawker i assumed it was another blogger's (ecurry) picture!!

    But was pleasantly surprised to discover your blog. Such a beautiful pic and amazing recipe.

    1. Thanks! I love ecurry blog, and I feel flattered you mistook the picture for hers :)

  7. Hi Indu,

    This recipe looks absolutely amazing! Your food blog and photography is really impressive! If you’re interested, we would like to send you an invitation to join our new invite-only food community that we have just launched.

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  8. I want to eat that chicken with warm rice ! :)
    thanks for submitting your photo to DMBLGiT July

  9. looks lovely! glad i chanced upon your site

  10. Just beautiful Indu. Hvn't seen such a delicious and well photographed chicken curry in ages. WOW!!

  11. Thanks a lot for your kind words, Deeba. I feel totally motivated for some blogging now!

  12. Thanks all, hope you try it out!

  13. Marinate is slightly different, but the rest is he same as in our kitchen. Are you from Fort Cochin by any chance? Anyhow, delicious recipes and wonderful photography. Thank you, Indu

  14. delicious recipes and wonderful photography, Indu. Thank you.

  15. your pics are so awesome, I tried your recipe & it was very tasty. I also found an interesting recipe. you can try that too http://www.pachakam.com/recipe.asp?id=1454&RecipeName=Kerala%20Chicken%20Curry

  16. Indu - your chicken dishes always make me drool big time!

  17. Hey Indu first time here. The curry looks so delicious and loved the pictures


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