Kozhi Nirachathu is a popular and traditional Malabari dish from the Indian state of Kerala. It involves stuffing a whole chicken with a spicy onion masala and then pan-frying it to perfection. The name "Kozhi Nirachathu" can be broken down into two parts: "Kozhi" means chicken in Malayalam (the language of Kerala), and "Nirachathu" roughly translates to "stuffed" or "filled." So, the dish is essentially a stuffed chicken.
Can I confess? Hope you don't judge me. I never knew how to quarter a chicken, or de-skin, etc. until recently when a friend invited us for BBQ night with a BYOB (Bring your own bird) theme. LOL! I had to take two whole chickens quartered and marinated. That BBQ night is one I will remember forever because that was the first time I worked on deconstructing a whole bird! Thanks to Youtube!
I now prefer to work with a whole chicken instead of already cut and packed. So a few birds were sitting in my freezer waiting for their turn and you guessed it... Time for Kozhi Nirachathu.
Kozhi Nirachathu is a whole chicken stuffed with boiled egg, onion masala and sometimes cashews and raisins. Roasted and cooked further with more onion-tomato gravy! Coming from the Malabar region of Kerala, this dish is served for special occasions.
- a whole chicken with or without skin
- kashmiri red chilli powder
- turmeric powder
- ginger garlic paste
- lime or lemon juice
- red onions
- curry leaves
- green chillies
- coriander powder
- fennel seeds powder
- malabar garam masala
- fresh coriander leaves
- boiled egg
- cooking oil
See the recipe card below for exact quantity and details.
The first time I made kozhi nirachathu, I watched a few videos and I got the idea that the whole dish involves a general process that includes:
- Boil egg(s)
- Prepare stuffing masala (onion rich)
- Stuff, seal and tie the chicken
- Partially pan-roast the stuffed chicken and keep it aside
- Prepare the gravy in the same pan (onion and tomato rich)
- Place the roasted chicken on the gravy and cover and cook until done
I followed the above authentic but time-consuming process the first time and it was a super hit! Of course, all that oil and caramelized onions etc. can never go wrong for our taste buds but hips don't like nor lie.
Many of you asked for my version of the recipe but I wanted to try it again before I share the recipe here.
The second attempt was a breeze! It was too easy because I chucked the gravy and made one batch of masala that went both into the bird cavity and served separately if there was any left.
So the making of my version of Kozhi Nirachathu included:
- Boil egg
- Prepare masala
- Stuff, seal and tie
- pan-fry and cook
I chose to do without the gravy because the roasted bird and the stuffed masala are more than enough for us. This time I served with store-bought Lebanese pita and my Baba Ganoush! We did not miss the gravy at all as the stuffed masala and the baba ganoush gave a satisfying meal!
Kozhi Nirachathu (Stuffed Chicken)
- 800 grams skinless whole chicken
- 1½ tablespoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil sunflower or coconut oil
- salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil sunflower or coconut oil
- 3 medium-sized red onions finely sliced
- 1 to 2 sprig of curry leaves
- 3 to 4 green chillies chopped finely
- 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
- 1 large tomato quartered (this makes it easy to fish out the skin)
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds powder
- ½ teaspoon Malabar garam masala
- Fresh coriander leaves
- salt to taste
- 1 to 2 hard-boiled eggs peeled
- ¼ cup cooking oil to roast and cook the chicken
Marinate the whole chicken:
- Wash the chicken thoroughly under running water and then drain and blot dry with paper towels. Blot dry the cavity and remove any large traces of blood.800 grams skinless whole chicken
- Place the chicken in a shallow pan to marinate. Make a deep incision on the breast, legs, and thighs.
- Take a small mixing bowl and make a paste of the marination ingredients. Rub this marinade all over the chicken making sure to get inside the incisions. Let it marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight in the fridge.1½ tablespoon Kashmiri red chilli powder, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon cooking oil, salt to taste
Prepare the Gravy Stuffing:
- Heat coconut oil in a thick-bottomed pan or Kadai that has a fitting lid and is large enough to hold the whole chicken.2 tablespoons cooking oil
- Add onions, curry leaves, green chillies, ginger and garlic and sauté till the onion turns golden brown.3 medium-sized red onions, 1 to 2 sprig of curry leaves, 3 to 4 green chillies, 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
- Next, add tomato and ground spices with salt and sauté on medium heat until it melts down completely - fish out the tomato skin if possible. sauté till it forms a pulpy gravy.1 large tomato, 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder, 1½ teaspoon coriander powder, ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds powder, salt to taste
- Finish it off with some coriander leaves and a sprinkle of malabar garam masala.½ teaspoon Malabar garam masala
Stuff the Chicken
- Place the boiled egg into the cavity of the chicken along with some portion of the prepared gravy taking care not to overstuff it.1 to 2 hard-boiled eggs
- Close the cavity with a toothpick. Tie the legs together with twine and tuck the wings.
Pot Roast the stuffed Chicken
- Heat more coconut oil in the same pan enough to cover the whole surface of the pan and add the curry leaves.¼ cup cooking oil
- Place the whole chicken carefully over the pan and roast on all sides until you see some browning. This is the make or break of the dish. You need to carefully turn the chicken on each side ensuring the stuffing is intact. So, use two spatulas to hold and turn the chicken.
- While pan-frying each side, ensure to scoop some oil and pour it over the chicken including areas between thighs, legs, and wings. Keep doing this every single time you turn the chicken.
- Close the lid and cook further to make sure that the chicken is cooked through. Keep an eye, lest it burns. Cook for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
- Towards the end, add the leftover gravy and close and let it cook for a few more minutes. This is the traditional method, but I serve the remaining gravy as a side.
- Switch off and serve the chicken garnished with fresh coriander leaves and drizzle lime juice. Serve warm with any Indian flatbread or rice.Fresh coriander leaves