PK Makes Rick Stein’s Chettinad Chicken

This is by far my favourite recipe from the TV series and book, ‘Rick Stein’s India’ (see BBC link here).

In my family’s version we keep the heat factor low and serve it with lightly steamed vegetables to keep it kid friendly. Well that is what my wife (who hates chili and curries in general) tells everyone but you didn’t hear it from me. Also in my defence, she shouldn’t have bought me a book full of curry recipes :).


Despite the shameful lack of chili and heat, our version of this dish is still amazingly dry, peppery and oh so flavoursome. I think it loses some of the colour that so defines these type of curries however. I hope I am forgiven though as the result is very tender, sticky chicken calling out for some rice and sides of your favourite green vegetables :). Edit: I now use ground annato seed to impart a natural red colouring but one without the heat of chillis.

A couple of recipe notes:

  • This dish calls for the use of a lichen called dagarful and I beg you to try it. I used cinnamon as a substitute originally but I have used the real deal in this post and there is no going back.
  • I use my home-made chicken stock instead of water.
  • Please check out my masla making tips in PK’s Curry Paste Kit before you start.

You will be:

  1. Making the dry masala.
  2. Cooking the chicken.
  3. Serving.

You will need:

  • Ingredients:
    • Dry Masala
      • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
      • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
      • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
      • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
      • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder (go 1 Tbsp or more if allowed)
    • Chicken
      • 1kg skinless boneless chicken thighs, chunky sliced, short ways
      • 200g red shallots, diced
      • 200ml home made chicken stock
      • 50ml olive oil
      • 1 tsp fennel seeds
      • 8cm cinnamon stick
      • 1 Tbsp dagarful, rinsed and rough chopped (or an extra 3cm cinnamon stick)
      • a very large handful of curry leaves (the more the better)
      • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
      • 4cm ginger, peeled and grated
      • 1 tsp raw sugar
      • 1 tsp table or ground rock salt
  •  Equipment:
    • a chopping board
    • a long sharp knife
    • a frypan
    • a dry mixer
    • a deep frypan for the chicken


Making the dry masala

  1. In a frypan, dry roast the 1 Tbsp fennel seeds, 1 Tbsp cumin seeds, 1 Tbsp coriander seeds and 1 Tbsp black peppercorns.
  2. Allow to cool and then and to your dry spice mixer.
  3. Add 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder as well and then give it a quick pulse.

Spice heaven:


Coarsely ground dry masala (looks and smells amazing):

 Cooking the chicken

  1. Peel and dice the 200g of red shallots.
  2. Chop the 1kg of chicken thighs short ways to get roughly 2.5cm chunks.
  3. In a deep frypan heat the 50ml olive oil.
  4. Add the 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 Tbsp dagarful and the 8cm of cinnamon stick and stir for a few minutes.
  5. Add a very large handful of curry leaves and the 200g of red shallots. Stir until the latter are soft.
  6. Add the 1kg of chicken and stir for a few minutes.
  7. Add and stir for a few minutes the:
    1. dry masala
    2. 4 cloves garlic
    3. 4cm ginger
    4. 1 tsp raw sugar
    5. 1 tsp table salt
  8. Add the 200ml chicken stock.
  9. Cook for about 45 minutes or until the sauce is much reduced and sticky.

I love the colours of this dish’s ingredients:


Sauté the spices, red shallots and curry leaves:

Add the chicken, stir and then add the garlic, ginger, sugar, salt and dry masala:

Cook until the sauce is thick:




  1. Cook your favourite rice, mine is basmati :).
  2. Steam some green vegetables for a splash of colour.




Here are more Indian cuisine posts and Rick Stein recipes:

Please consider subscribing to a weekly email summary of our posts or check us out on Facebook @growitcatchitcookit.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.