Atul Kochhar is one of the world’s top Indian Chefs and Restauranteurs. He was the first chef in the UK to be awarded a Michelin Star for Indian cuisine at Tamarind. He sailed world famous Benares restaurant into Michelin star status and is currently the Executive Chef of Indian fine-dining restaurant, Kanishka, based in Mayfair, London. He is bringing a whole new style of Indian cooking to the city, introducing the flavours of the region of North East India’s ‘Seven Sister States’.
As an International and UK nationwide TV personality, he has been featured on popular programs such as Million Dollar Menu and Saturday Kitchen and now he has teamed up with Parson’s Nose.
This is a classic curry from Kerala, and, in my opinion, just about every household makes this on the weekends – the way we have butter chicken in North India, they have chicken Peralen.
In Kerala, shallots are used more often than onions, and they are almost always fried and added just before serving for extra seasoning called a tarka, as in this recipe.
Coconut vinegar would also be used in Kerala, but I know that even when you find it in the UK it is very expensive, so ordinary white wine vinegar is just fine.
2 tablespoons coconut oil
10 fresh or dried curry leaves, plus extra fresh leaves, to garnish (optional)
2 tablespoons Onion Paste (page 218)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
For the spice powder
4 green cardamom pods
2 large dried red chillies
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
For the tarka
1 teaspoon coconut oil
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
10 fresh curry leaves
Assemble all the ingredients and equipment before you begin. You will need a spice grinder, a large sauté or frying pan with a lid and a heavy-based saucepan.
First make the spice powder. Put the cloves, cardamom pods, dried chillies, cinnamon stick, coriander and fennel seeds, turmeric and peppercorns in the spice grinder, and grind until a fine powder forms.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Stir in the spice powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt, making sure all the chicken pieces are coated. Set aside.
Halve, peel and thinly slice the onion.
Melt the coconut oil over a medium-high heat in the sauté pan. Add the onion with ½ teaspoon of salt and stir for 30 seconds so the onion starts softening. Add the curry leaves and the onion paste and stir the paste into the oil for 30 seconds.
Add the chicken pieces and stir to seal them and blend with the other ingredients, stirring constantly so the spices do not burn. Watch closely because they can burn quickly. Stir in the vinegar, which will evaporate almost immediately, then add the water, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan until a thin paste forms.
Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan and leave the curry to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
Just before serving, make the tarka. Peel, halve and thinly slice the shallot. Melt the coconut oil over a medium-high heat in the saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and stir until they pop. Lower the heat, add the shallots and stir for a couple of seconds. Add the curry leaves and continue stirring until the shallots are lightly coloured.
When the chicken is tender, pour the tarka over and stir in. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary. Garnish with a few fresh curry leaves if you have any, and serve.
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