A perfect time of the year for this rustic and simple curry from God's Own Country. Kerala's life line the North East Monsoon is coming to an end. Inviting Mahabali to every ones home with an extravagant Sadhya of 16 or more healthful vegetarian dishes laid out on bright green banana leaves during Onam Festival next week.
Kozhi Vartha Kari translates to "Fried Chicken Curry". When I read about the recipe on
Chef K.N Vinod's note my mouth was watering and was determined to try the recipe on my day off. I told my butcher Salim to give me baby chicken legs and invited a few of my friends to share the meal.
Baby Chicken or Cornish Hen- 1kg
bay leaf- 1 no (Dried)
cassia or cinnamon - 1 inch bark
star anise- 3-4 florets
cloves- 4-5 pieces
green caradamom- 5-6 pieces
black cardamom - 2 pieces
turmeric- 1 tbsp
red chili- 2 tbsp
coriander - 3tbsp
vegetable - 3 tsp
red onion (small dices)- 3 medium sized
ginger (julienne)- 1 medium piece
garlic- 3-4 pods
Salt- to taste
1. Remove the skin of the chicken and wash it with running cold water. Place it on a paper towel and pat dry.
2. Heat a pan over slow flame and add the powdered spices and toast it moving it constantly with a spatula 2 to 3 minutes till the flavors come out add a few drops of oil and cook for another couple of minutes. This helps to bring out the flavor of the spices.
3.Transfer the spices to the bowl of chicken add dollops of yogurt, a few curry leaves and some salt and mix well. Allow it to marinate for an hour in the refrigerator.
4.In a pan (Kerala style Uruli or kadai) heat vegetable oil and put the whole spices starting from cinnamon, green cardamom,black cardamom, cloves, star anise, bay leaves and allow it to bloom for a few minutes over medium flame, the cumin and saute.
5. Add the ginger julienne and sliced garlic and continue cooking till the turn a slight golden brown and add the red onions continue cooking till it turns a deep golden brown.( a pinch of salt as it helps the onions to cook faster)
6. Continue adding the curry leaves and the marinated chicken and cook over a medium high flame, cover it with a lid and continue cooking till the Chicken is soft and tender. Check for salt and serve hot with soft Kallu Appams (Rice crepes fermented with toddy (Coconut or palm liquor) and fresh grated coconut added in the batter) or Flaky Malabari Parathas.
A glass of Viognier or Shriaz would be a perfect pair.
You could find Chef Vinod's Recipe and interesting information about Curry leaves and Cardamom from food writers who have been a great source of inspiration to me.
Chef KN Vinod