I never imagined I would try my hands at making a whole chicken! I think I just reached a milestone in my culinary journey. And then going for it again within a month, just proved that I have a lot more learning to do... Kozhi Nirachathu or "chicken stuffed" is yet another delicious Malabar cuisine's contribution to the world of food and its possibilities.
To be honest, I never heard of Kozhi Nirachathu even though it is my home town dish. I remember mom mentioned she made it when we had guests but I was too young to remember the taste or know how it was prepared etc. I wonder why Kozhi Nirachathu was not made often and why I never was part of any conversation about it...
A whole bird roasted is a common sight especially with the world's dining table just a click away, but the idea never grew on me. When I first noticed Kozhi Nirachathu by my darling fellow blogger Ria, I was amazed at how it looked and then surprised that it was all prepared on the stovetop! That was the seed of my realization of a distant dream.
My second attempt. lousy pic and burnt look.
Can I confess? Hope you don't judge me. I never knew how to quarter a chicken into 8 pieces, or de-skin, etc. until recently when Z 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!
For some strange reason, 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 seems to be a dish served for special occasions.
The first time I made it, I read Ria's post and 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
- Partially pan roast the stuffed chicken and keep 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 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.
Never expected this to get 100 plus likes but looks like my followers are Malabar food fans!
F and I sat down and had the whole bird devouring it like we have not seen food...
Later when I was doing the dishes, I ran through the events in my head to find where I had hiccups. I had just two...
First Attempt: Debrief:
- I had no clue how to tie the wings because I had cut off the tips.
- Cook on low to medium heat while covered to prevent part of the bird from drying
Many of you asked for my version of the recipe but I wanted to try it again before I post it 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 this Kozhi Nirachathu included:
- Boil egg
- Prepare masala
- Stuff, seal and tie
- Roast and cook
This time I kept the wing tips but tied it too tight that it left a dent in the breast! (you can see in the pics). I also managed to burn some of the parts because I tried to hurry the process.
Second attempt: Debrief:
- Do not tie the wings too tight. Tie the wing tips or tuck them between the thighs.
- Slow cook on low to medium heat to prevent burnt bird
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!
For now, I hope my details above and the recipe below gives you the courage to try Kozhi Nirachathu at least once. Trust me, it is no big deal.
Stuffed and Roasted Whole Chicken | Easy Kozhi Nirachathu
700 grams of whole chicken
1 and ½ tablespoons Kashmiri red chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon oil (sunflower or coconut oil)
Salt to taste
- 1 to 2 tablespoons oil (sunflower or coconut oil)
- 3 medium-sized red onions, finely sliced
- 1 to 2 sprigs of curry leaves
- 3 to 4 green chillies, chopped finely
- 2 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
- 1 big tomato, chopped into roundels (this makes it easy to fish out the skin)
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
- 1 and ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- a fistful of chopped coriander leaves
- Salt to taste
- 1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and slitten partially
- Prepared gravy
- (you will not use all the gravy, just enough to stuff in the cavity without over stuffing. Use the leftover gravy to serve separately)
- Approx ¼ cup Oil to roast and cook the chicken
- Curry leaves to flavour the oil while roasting
- lemon juice to drizzle all over the chicken right before serving.
Marinate the whole chicken:
- Remove the chicken skin carefully and discard it
- Wash the chicken thoroughly under running water and then drain and blot dry with paper towels.
- Blot dry the cavity and remove any traces of blood
- Place the chicken in a shallow pan to marinate
- Make a deep incision on the breast, legs, and the 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
- Tie the legs together with twine and tie the wings too (or tuck them beside the legs)
- Marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight
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
- Add onions, curry leaves, green chillies, ginger and garlic and sauté till onion turns golden brown.
- Next, add tomato and sauté on medium heat until it melts down completely - fish out the tomato skin if possible.
- Add the spice powders and sauté till it forms a pulpy gravy
- Finish it off with some coriander leaves and a sprinkle of 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.
- Close the cavity with a toothpick
- Tie the legs together with a twine
- tie the wings together with twine or tuck them beside each leg
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
- 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. I assure you by end of this dish, you would have become a pro. 🙂
- While roasting 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 10 to 15 minutes.
- Towards the end, add the leftover gravy and close and let it cook for a few more minutes. (optional)
- Switch off and plate the chicken with desired garnishes (raw salads, lemon wedges, etc)
- Drizzle lemon juice and serve with any Indian flatbread or Pita
At this point, I would like to mention that this post is a work in progress for me. Insha Allah, I would love to try this again mainly for better pictures! I was not prepared for the photo shoot set up, nor with garnish items. My worst plated dish for all hard work! 🙁
I will leave you with two more links that I will refer to for the next trial:
Did you make this recipe? Let me know!