Lip-smacking peppery chicken in a thick spicy gravy of onion, grated coconut and buttermilk. I developed this south Indian-flavoured pepper chicken recipe for my gravy sucker lover, Mr F. It is usually a dry item which is served as a side along with some curry but if you know me, I am very minimalistic even on what is served on the table. Call me lazy 😂. Therefore, this was my attempt to reduce my task in the kitchen and still have a finger-licking good pepper chicken gravy.
I have been playing around with this recipe for quite some time now. When I finally loved the outcome, I made it again to capture step by step and measurements for you all. As usual, I first shared Instagram stories and on popular demand highlighted too. A few of you tried and shared that it is indeed lip-smacking! One budding Youtuber made this and asked my permission if could post it on her channel. I loved her honesty and integrity and so asked her to wait until I publish it on my blog.
If you know me then you also know my love for fennel seeds and how I used that to make the yummy chicken cutlets. We use them here too 😋
- coconut oil: the base of most Kerala food and makes everything added tastier. So stick to coconut oil. If you don't have one, then use any other oil but I can't guarantee the taste.
- fennel seeds: Indispensable! If you only have powder and not seeds, then add them along with other spice powders.
- curry leaves: Need I say? INDISPENSABLE!
- freshly grated coconut: Fresh or frozen will do but if you have access only to desiccated coconut, then go ahead with that but make sure you don't burn them.
- chilli flakes: You may replace them with dried whole red chillies that are cut or crushed.
- red onions, sliced thinly: The way a red onion is cut makes a lot of difference to the result. When I say sliced thinly, it is not chopped or diced or chunked but thin strands of half-moon shape.
- ginger-garlic paste: homemade or store-bought or freshly made in mortar pestle will also work great
- freshly ground pepper powder: Black peppercorn and black pepper powder cost the same at least here in UAE. So I buy the peppercorns and make my pepper powder. You may use store-bought too. More the better as this is the dominant flavour of the gravy. Always season as you go.
- coriander powder: a little for the flavour
- turmeric powder: makes me feel at ease to add turmeric to non-veg as it is believed to keep it safe.
- chicken in-bone: I have used bone-in for the added flavour from the bone but you may use boneless.
- tomato, chunked: just a half will do.
- buttermilk or laban: Laban is easily available everywhere in the middle east but if you don't have access to laban, then you may whisk 1 tablespoon of yoghurt with some water and use it
- garam masala: I have used my Malabar garam masala here. You may use your home garam masala.
How to make pepper chicken gravy step by step?
A good gravy is made when we take time and go through each layer of cooking with cues from the aroma and texture. Though this is a one-pot recipe, it is definitely not a dump all and pressure cook kinda recipe. So let me tell you in brief how this pepper chicken gravy is made. As with every cooking, first, keep the ingredients ready.
Heat coconut oil in a kadai. Add fennel seeds and curry leaves and fry until curry leaves crisp up and fennel seeds aroma fills up. Add the grated coconut and chilli flakes and fry this for a minute.
Make sure you slice your onions really fine because it has to break down and add even texture to the gravy. Add the sliced onions with a dash of salt and saute until onions turn translucent and coconut starts to brown.
Add ginger-garlic paste and saute this on medium flame until it is cooked, onions become golden and you start loving the aroma - about 5 minutes. Don't try to rush this step.
Reduce the flame to low and add the spice powders - pepper, coriander and turmeric. Fry this on low for 5 minutes or until you love the aroma. Trust me and focus on the aroma you will start cooking with love rather than a chore.
Add the chicken and tomato and season with more salt and pepper. Stir through so that the chicken is coated with the masala. Cover the pot and cook on medium for 10 minutes (do not forget to check on it) I don't have to add water as the chicken releases its own. But I had tried this using country chicken (Nattu Kozhi) and it needed some help with some water. So know your chicken and make the decision.
Taste and adjust the salt and spices. Stir in the laban (buttermilk) or diluted whisked yoghurt. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Open and sprinkle some garam masala and more curry leaves. Here I used my home Malabar garam masala. Simmer for a few minutes until you see the oil on top and sides.
Pepper chicken gravy is ready! Serve hot with rice, pathiri, chappati, neychor etc. Now, if you want to keep it as a dry item, then skip the laban step. Finish off with some curry leaves and a drizzle of coconut oil.
If planning to make with a kilogram of chicken, then instead of doubling the recipe, adjust according to the taste and preference. The onions and coconut render the texture to gravy adding thickness and the buttermilk or laban is the means all comes together adding a tang to the pepper. I have so far only served with chapati and neychor because Pathiris remain in my dreams. 😁 If you want it as a dry dish, then skip the laban (buttermilk).
Pepper Chicken Gravy
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 sprig of curry leaves
- ¼ cup fresh grated coconut
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 2 to 3 medium-sized onions sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 500 grams chicken in-bone curry cut, washed and pat dried
- ½ medium-sized tomato chunked
- ¼ cup buttermilk or laban you may whisk 1 tablespoon of yoghurt with some water and use it
- ¼ teaspoon Malabar garam masala
- Heat coconut oil in a kadai or a shallow pan (I used non-stick). Add fennel seeds and curry leaves and let it sizzle and crisp up.
- Add the grated coconut and chilli flakes and fry this for a minute.
- Add the thinly sliced onions with a dash of salt and saute this until onions turn translucent and coconut starts to brown.
- Add ginger-garlic paste and saute this on medium flame until it is cooked, onions become golden and you start loving the aroma - about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the flame to low and add the spice powders - pepper, coriander and turmeric. Fry this on low for 5 minutes or until you love the aroma.
- Add the chicken and tomato and season with more salt and pepper. Stir through so that the chicken is coated with the masala.
- Cover the pot and cook on medium for 10 minutes (do not forget to check on it). Taste and adjust the salt and spices.
- Stir in the laban (buttermilk). Cover and cook for another 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Open and sprinkle some garam masala and tear and add more curry leaves.
- Simmer for a few minutes until you see the oil on top and sides. Serve hot with appam, pathiri, chappati, neychor etc.