Chettinad Chicken Curry with Okra Recipe

Yvonne Ruperti

Notes:This dish is meant to be hot and spicy, but can be tamed by adding less chilies. Adjust to taste. Dessicated coconut is unsweetened dried coconut. Don't substitute with sweetened coconut. If curry leaves are not available, simply omit. This dish is very forgiving, and the spices can be altered to taste.

Recipe Facts

Active: 60 mins
Total: 60 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 28 ounces (about 4 large) boneless, skinless, chicken breast, trimmed of any visible fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 medium onions, finely chopped, divided (about 4 cups)
  • 10 to 12 dried chili peppers, divided
  • 1/3 cup dried unsweetened coconut (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground chili
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 5 medium tomatoes, diced (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind pulp or lime juice
  • For the okra:
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or ghee)
  • 2 green small chilies or 1 serrano pepper, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 1 pound fresh okra, washed, trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken broth
  • Cooked rice to serve on the side


  1. Place chicken in medium bowl and mix with yogurt, turmeric, and 1 teaspoon salt.

  2. Make Curry Paste: In dutch oven or large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. When shimmering, add 1 cup chopped onions, 5 chili peppers, coconut, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, and black pepper. Cook, stirring, until onions have softened, 10 to 12 minutes; cool briefly.

  3. Transfer mixture to food processor and pulse to a paste. Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in same unwashed saucepan over medium heat. When shimmering, add remaining onions, remaining 5 to 7 chili peppers, bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, 1 teaspoon ground chili, curry leaves, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until onions have softened, 10 to 12 minutes.

  4. Stir in curry paste and tomatoes, and bring to simmer. Cook, stirring, until tomatoes have cooked down into a thick sauce, and mixture begins to look separated, about 20 minutes. (Reduce heat to medium-low if mixture is beginning to brown on bottom of pot).

  5. Stir in tamarind (or lime juice) and chicken. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and/or ground chili.

  6. Cook Okra: Heat oil (or ghee) in large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. When shimmering, add chilies and cumin, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in okra, broth, and salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until okra is just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve curry and okra together immediately.

Special equipment

food processor, large saucepan or skillet with lid