Chicken Curry is fairly common in most every region of India. No matter where you go within the Indian continent, you will find a chicken curry dish. The beauty of it is that no matter where you go, every region has their own version of a Chicken Curry. Not only the cuts of meat will differ, but the spices, the heat, the way its cooked, some with sauce, some drier versions.
Being a North Indian myself, I notice that our chicken curries tend to be saucier, creamier, thicker. And the seasonings and spices I’ve grown up with tend to be more on the mildly spicy side. We use a lot of turmeric, chili, cumin, ginger and garlic in our dishes. And we have our own version of garam masala which is a spice blend with more of the aromatic spices in it. (Cumin, anise, cardamom, coriander, bayleaf, cloves, etc.)
South Indian cuisine on the other has a lot more stronger spices in them. They use turmeric, ginger, garlic and many spices common in North Indian cuisine, but they also use more black peppercorns, curry leaves (a typical South Indian ingredient), nutmeg, tamarind, cinnamon, and cloves in their dishes. The mix of all these spices into the food really gives it a distinctive flavor. Not only does South Indian food have a delicious heat to it, but it has a slight tartness to the dish that is a lemony-salty flavor, if I can describe it that way, that makes it taste even better! It’s not overpowering at all, and to be honest, South Indian food just wouldn’t be the same without it. Spices and seasonings like this is what gives it its glory, its amazing flavor, its fame!
When I had the opportunity to try out a new type of South Indian Chicken Curry, I jumped in with both feet. I wanted to make a dish using a lot of popular South Indian spices, and I know black peppercorns, in particular are used alot. They not only give the dish heat, but add a bit of smokiness to the food, which you won’t find in North Indian butter chickens or chicken tikkas. Plus, there is something about using fresh curry leaves in a dish that gives it a whole new depth of flavor. (Curry Leaves are NOT the same as using Curry Powder, which does not have any curry leaves in it by the way.) Curry Leaves have a lemony scent and have a distinctly different taste – like a cross between lemongrass and anise flavors. It’s worth using in your curries, soups and stews!
Black Pepper Chicken Curry is a South Indian style Chicken Curry using lots of ginger, garlic, curry leaves and black peppercorns. The chicken is marinated in a ginger-garlic mixture and then cooked in a veggie-based sauce sauted with curry leaves. Then it’s seasoned with a black peppercorn based masala blend and allowed to cook low and slow till the chicken is tender, juicy and has ompletely absorbed all those delicious spices in the sauce. The end result is drool-worthy!
Check out the recipe!
BLACK PEPPER CHICKEN CURRY (Kali Mirch Murgh)
- Marinade Ingredients:
- 4 Tbsp. garlic cloves (about 8 cloves)
- 2in. piece of ginger (cleaned) – OR 2 Tbsp. of ginger
- 1 tsp. turmeric powder
- Curry Ingredients:
- 2 lbs. of chicken (bone-in thighs cut into medium chunks, boneless/skinless thighs, OR skinless chicken drumsticks)
- 4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 8 curry leaves
- 1 cup onion finely chopped
- 2 green chilies (cut thin lengthwise)
- 1 cup tomatoes finely diced
- 1 cup water
- 2 tsp. salt (add more as needed)
- ¼ cup of cilantro to garnish
- For the Black Pepper Masala Powder:
- 2 tsp. black peppercorns
- 1 tsp. cumin seeds
- 2 dried red chilies
- 1-inch cinnamon stick (OR 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon)
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds
- 5 cloves
- 1 tsp. poppy seeds (*optional)
- 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
NOTE: Fish, Shrimp, Potatoes or Paneer can be used as an alternative substitute, if chicken is not desired.
- In a small grinder, add garlic, ginger, turmeric, and 2-3 Tbsp of water, if needed. Grind into a thick paste. Coat all chicken pieces with this paste in a large bowl. Set aside in fridge for at least 4-24hrs.
- Grind all black pepper masala spices in a grinder and set aside for later use in the recipe.
- Heat oil over a medium flame in a heavy bottom large pan or wok. Once oil is hot add the onions and curry leaves into the hot oil. Cook for about 2 minutes till onions begin to brown a bit.
- Add the green chilies, tomatoes, and salt. Cook till they begin to soften and break down, about 5-7 minutes on medium/medium-low heat.
- Add the marinated chicken and stir well into the veggie mixture.
- Next, add the black pepper masala powder, and mix into the sauce. Cook the chicken mix for about 5-7 minutes, to allow the masala to cook onto the chicken pieces.
- Add water. Stir into the masala sauce at the bottom of the pan and make sure to fully coat the chicken. Cover and simmer on low heat for 25-30 minutes stirring halfway through to make sure sauce is not burning. (You may add extra ½ cup of water, in this step, if more sauce is desired).
- After time, remove the cover and stir again to make sure all chicken pieces are cooked in sauce.
- Garnish with fresh coriander.
- Serve hot with rice or Indian bread of choice.
If you love Indian food, and you also love to try different types of dishes, you will really enjoy this dish. Despite all the different spices, all the flavors are well balanced, not too spicy either. Definitely try it yourself – you will also see how different North Indian vs. South Indian cuisine is!
Here are the spices used in this recipe:
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