Chicken Pepper Fry

April 6th, 201112:54 pm @


Chicken pepper fry

Chicken pepper fry

One of the great hot-weather treats here in India is stopping by the coconut wallah on your way to the market. He’ll lop the top off a fresh coconut with a massive machete, stick in a straw¬†and hand it over for you to drink the cool, fresh juice. Once you’re done, you hand it back and he’ll slice open the coconut and scoop out the flesh for you. In the country’s south you can’t move for coconuts, with sellers on every corner stacking them up like sandbags round a sentry. In Delhi, however, they’re not as common, but the coconut wallas still make an appearance as the weather starts to heat up, meaning we get to make the most of fresh coconut flesh.

That segue brings us to this dish from India’s deep south of Tamil Nadu – chicken pepper fry, which is neither fried, nor particularly peppery. But it does contain coconut – a lot of it. So if you find a coconut wallah on your street, definitely grab him and get yourself some fresh coconut for this dish. Otherwise, desiccated¬†from your supermarket will do. This should make about 4-5 serves.


For the paste

  • 2 tbsp oil (coconut if you can find it)
  • 200g grated coconut (fresh or desiccated)
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 2.5cm stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 400ml water

For the main event

  • 6 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 15 curry leaves (or 3-4 bay leaves)
  • 5cm piece of ginger, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 chillies, chopped (add or subtract depending on your Scoville tolerance)
  • 4 onions, diced
  • Handful of coriander stalks, chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped (or 1 tin diced tomatoes)
  • Salt
  • 1kg chicken breast cut into cubes

To garnish

  • Crushed black pepper
  • Fresh coriander, chopped


  • Heat the oil in a pot and add the coconut, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns and cinnamon stick. Stir until the coconut starts to brown, then throw in the chilli powder, turmeric and ground coriander. It will look shockingly orange.
  • Take it off the heat, let it cool a bit then whizz it in the blender with about 400mls of water to make a paste (use your judgement with the water, you want paste, not soup).
  • In the same pot, heat more oil and once it’s hot, damn hot, add the mustard seeds. Once they pop add the curry leaves (or bay leaves), the ginger, garlic and chillies. Give it a stir or three then throw in the onions and coriander stalks. Fry till the onions are brown then add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Again, give it a good stir or three then add the paste (stir) and then the chicken (stir).
  • Bring it to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or so until the chicken is done.
  • To serve, sprinkle on some crushed black pepper and fresh coriander.
Be Sociable, Share!