A rich traditional and fragrant Kerala Chicken Curry (Nadan Kozhi Curry) served with a simple mashed Kappa (Tapioca). To add extra flavour, use bone in Chicken (whole Bird), curried in fragrant and warming spices.
We all at some time or the other in our lifetime boast about nadan (traditional or grandma’s) recipes or food. Don’t we? What is it all about? What does it mean to me? How will it benefit you as a reader of my blog? I thought I need to put that straight first before I move on boasting about it any further, does it not sound right!
As a child I cherish those beautiful memories of travelling on ‘Patna-Cochin Express Train’ from Asansol to Cochin in our Summer or Christmas vacation, and to me this was ‘The Vacation’ that we longed for during school term. Kerala for me was a holiday home, dominated with vast green Rice fields, dotted with Coconut grooves, Rubber, Coffee Plantations were-ever you look, were the village life of Kerala is delightfully charming and simple. Even today I prefer living in a country-side; were the life is so chilled out, slow paced, quiet and you are able to enjoy the nature as God wanted it to be, up until “Adam ate the Apple and he was cast out of the Garden Of Eden”. So to be fair, it is more of a home coming, and the entire welcoming and time that you spend with your family is also part of it. Tender Coconut Water which my uncle used to get straight of the tree and served there and then, which I cannot forget in a hurry. Even now when I get back home, my dad gets me some of this, though we buy from a local produce.
Now when it comes to lunch, it is the whole family around the table, and obviously meat is a major attraction. Chicken is raised in most house, like most other ingredients are fresh; Coconut Oil, Curry Leaves, and Spices, slow cooked in an Earthen pot on wood fire. Food is served on fresh Plantain leaf along with Cumin Water or Butter Milk (Mooru Vellam / Chaas), this to me this is heavenly and is Nadan to me! Therefore it is all about the environment, food, people, welcoming is all part of it. Now you cannot say ‘No‘ to this kind of special treatment that nature hands you out, isn’t it!
Trying to replicate this is hard, but not impossible:
1. Organic or Corn Fed Chicken which is like a home raised Chicken.
2. Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves and Star Anise brought from Munnar Spice market (on our last visit in 2010). I would seriously recommend buying from these local shops, if you are to visit Munnar or Thekkady (speak to a local tourist guide for recommendation), because they are so fresh that even after 2 years they have not lost the aroma at all. Amazing!!
3. Slow cooked in an earthen (clay) pot resulting in an even and delicate taste to the food cooked in it, being the benefits of cooking in a clay pot. This is due to the clay being porous and allowing the heat to circulate throughout the pot during the cooking process unlike with metal. You can buy Earthenware in most Indian shops, something that you will not regret, buying.
4. Coconut Oil – Malayalees (people of Kerala), prefer to cook in Coconut Oil, and there is something special about cooking in this Oil, it smells and tastes so much different from Vegetable Oils, certainly reminds of home-town.
Why not try our other mouth-watering recipes made in Earthen Pot?
The 3 main kinds of Chicken available in supermarkets*:
Organic – Most expensive, matured slowly upto 14 weeks, fed on organic diet and is allowed to roam in the countryside during the day. Flesh is firm, flavourful and less plump as they get lots of exercise, compared to an indoor raised Bird. My view – 1st choice when buying Chicken.
Free Range Chicken – Less expensive than Organic, fed on a corn diet, resulting in a yellow skin colour. Allowed to roam in the country. My view – does not taste much different from an Organic Bird; cheaper.
Broiler – Inexpensive, common. Short life upto 6 weeks, live a life packed in densities, with little or no room for movement, hardly see the sun, resulting in an inferior, plump, fatty bird. My view – never!!
Things You’ll Need:
- Organic or Corn-fed Whole Chicken – 1000 grams
- Red Onion – 300 grams
- Garlic – 1 bulb
- Ginger – 2 inch root
- Ripe Tomato – 3 (about 350 grams)
- Green Chillies – 4 nos
- Coconut Oil – 4 tbsp
- Coconut Cuts – ½ Coconut
- Curry Leaves – 4 sprigs
- Water – 200 ml
- Salt – to taste
- Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
- Chilli Powder – ½ tbsp
- Kashmiri Chilli Powder – 1 tbsp
- Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
- Cloves – 4 nos
- Cinnamon – 2 inch stick
- Star Anise – 2 nos
- Green Cardamom – 6 nos
- Shallots (Chuvanulli) – 30 grams
- Curry Leaves – 2 sprigs
- Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp
Golden Touch Mise-en Place: [30 mins]
- Clean cut Chicken into bite size pieces. Wash all equipments used for cutting Chicken.
- Finely chop the red Onions / Ginger / Garlic / Tomatoes store separately.
- De-seed green Chillies if so desired and slit lengthwise.
- Clean and dry Curry leaves in a kitchen towel.
- Finely slice Chuvanulli.
- Cut Coconut into thin slivers of 1 inch pieces (you can buy ready made frozen pack in Indian grocery stores).
Golden Touch Preparation [1 hour 30 mins]:
- Heat Oil in a non-stick pan, sauté Coconut pieces for 2 mins till light golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, strain it out to a plate.
- Add Garlic and sauté for 1 min., this lends a fine Garlicky flavour and aroma to the Oil.
- Add Onion, Chilli, Ginger and Salt, sauté for about 10 mins till soft and mushy.
- Now add the Tomatoes and sauté for another 10 mins till soft and mushy.
- Meanwhile in a separate non-stick pan take all ingredients under the ‘dry roast‘, and sauté for about 2 mins on medium flame, while stirring frequently, till you can smell the ingredients. Be careful not to burn the ingredients, as it will taste bitter. Add this to the above and mix well.
- Add Chicken pieces, Curry Leaves, Coconut, Water and mix well.
- Transfer to an earthen pot.
- Bring to boil. Simmer** for 90 mins till the flesh peels of on its own.
In another non-stick pan heat 1 tbsp Coconut Oil, add Shallots and Curry Leaves, sauté for 2 mins, pour on the Curry and serve hot with mashed Kappa (Tapioca) or Brown Rice.
*Reference – BBC Good Food
**Simmering – This is a technique were foods are brought to boiling point and reducing heat to a point were the formation of bubbles has ceased. Simmering prevents meats from toughening or breaking as it gets a gentler treatment.
How long to Simmer to cook Chicken?
1 – 2 kilos of Chicken for around 60 to 75 minutes, with the aim of reaching an internal temperature of 1650F / 750C for the meat. A simple food thermometer costs as little as £4, help you gauge the food temperature.