Malaysian Chicken Curry – Nyonya Chicken Curry

Malaysian Chicken Curry4

Nyonya chicken curry is one of my all time favorite dishes. I love it and it is worth hunting for all the ingredients that go into making it. Some time ago, I shared my beef rendang recipe, another one of my favorite Malaysian dishes. The next item that I will share with you, from my list of favorite Malaysian recipes, is roti canai.

Nyonya cuisine is a blend of Chinese ingredients with spices and cooking techniques used by the Malay/Indonesian community. They call their wet spice paste rempah. The cooking skill of a new daughter-in-law is judged by listening to her preparing rempah with a mortar and pestle. I definitely wouldn’t qualify as a good cook, because I used a blender to make my rempah!

When I first started experimenting with other world cuisines, many of the herbs, spices and techniques were unfamiliar to me. Some of the ingredients mentioned in this recipe may not normally be on your kitchen shelf or in your refrigerator. But with all the specialty markets springing up these days, it was easy for me to find all these ingredients. Challenge yourself and try cooking this dish. I am sure you, your family, and your friends will be delighted with the results.

Malaysian Chicken Curry – Nyonya chicken curry
Prep time: 30 minutes, (includes time for soaking chillies)
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6-8

½ cup peanut oil
1 star anise
3 cloves
3-inch piece cinnamon, (broken in half)
2 sprigs of curry leaves
3 lbs chicken, (cut into small pieces)
10 baby potatoes, (peeled, halved and parboiled)
2 Thai red chillies, (slit in half)
2 14 fl oz (400 ml) cans of coconut milk
1 kaffir lime leaf
2 teaspoons sugar

For the wet spice paste (Rempah):
4 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
20 dried red chillies, (broken in half, seeded, and soaked in boiling water)
1 teaspoon fish sauce, (or one piece belacan, broken into bits)
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh turmeric root
3 tablespoons finely chopped galangal
3 tablespoons finely chopped lemon grass
2 tablespoons sliced garlic
2 cups roughly chopped shallots or red onions
½ cup water, (or use the water that you soaked the red chillies in)

To make the wet spice paste, break the red chillies in half, remove the seeds, and soak them in boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain and save the water to use to grind the paste.

Next, roast the coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds in a small non-stick pan over medium-low heat for five minutes or until they smell fragrant. Cool completely.

Drain the soaked red chillies and put them into a blender. Add the roasted spices, fish sauce or belacan, turmeric root, galangal, garlic, shallots and half a cup of the water that you soaked the red chillies in.  If you forgot to save it just use water. Blend to a smooth puree.

Place a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add oil and when it shimmers, add the wet spice paste, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and curry leaves and sauté for 10 minutes or until you see the paste thicken, darken in color, and the oil separating from the mixture.

Add the chicken, stir until the paste coats each piece. Add potatoes, chillies, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaf, salt, and sugar. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes or until the chicken and potatoes are cooked. Roti canai is the perfect accompaniment to this Malaysian chicken curry.

Kolhapuri Chicken Curry

Kolhapuri Chicken3

By now, all of you know that I love Maharashtrian food. Kolhapur is a city situated in the south west corner of Maharashtra and it can boast that it has one of the areas best cuisines. I featured their famous misal pav in one of my blog posts and I hope you had an opportunity to try it. The city is also known for their traditional leather sandals, called Kolhapuri chappal, and their antique jewelry.

The Kolhapuri chicken curry that I am featuring today is one of my favorites. Adjust the spice level to your taste. I added two types of chillies for this recipe. One to add heat and the other to give the curry its brilliant red gravy. I hope you will enjoy this dish as much as I do.

Kolhapuri Chicken Curry
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6-8

½ cup grated dry coconut, (copra)
4 dry red chillies, (depending on heat and your preference)
5 Kashmiri dry chillies, (for color)
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
4 green cardamoms
2 black cardamom
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 petals of star anise
5 cloves
1 blade mace
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
8 black peppercorns
2 pounds chicken, cut into medium sized pieces
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ cup oil
3 cups finely diced onion
2 tablespoons garlic paste
1 tablespoon ginger paste
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 cups water

For the Kolhapuri Masala:
In a small frying pan, over medium-high heat, roast the grated dry coconut until it turns light brown. Remove and put it into a small bowl. The the same pan, roast the dry red chillies for two minutes. Put them into the bowl. Next, to the same pan, add the cinnamon, green cardamom, black cardamom, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, star anise petals, cloves, mace, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and peppercorn. Roast until fragrant. Add the spices into the small bowl and cool all the ingredients for 10-15 minutes. Then grind to a coarse powder.

For the Kolhapuri Chicken Curry:
Marinate the chicken in one tablespoon of the Kolhapuri masala, lemon juice, turmeric powder and salt for fifteen minutes.

Place a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and the chopped onion. Fry until the onion turns light brown. Add the ginger and garlic paste. Fry for two minutes or until the raw smell of ginger-garlic disappears. Add the marinated chicken and roast until you see brown spots on the pieces of chicken. Add the rest of the Kolhapuri masala, grated nutmeg and coriander leaves. Roast for one minute and then add water. Stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the pieces of chicken are well cooked and the gravy thickens. Taste and adjust the salt, if needed, and turn off the heat. Serve Kolhapuri chicken curry with steaming hot rice. This is a spicy dish but you can adjust the heat level to suit your taste.

Chicken Cutlets

Chicken Cutlets1

I remember going to restaurants in India many years ago and ordering chicken or vegetable cutlets and soup instead of the typical masala dosa. It was a great alternative when I didn’t feel like having Indian food. It was often listed on the menu under the Western items section. Well, now we have “Indianized” the cutlet so much that it isn’t considered so much of a Western item on the menu in India any more.

I often use leftovers to make cutlets and my children think I’ve created something new and awesome. When they were young, I would put lots of vegetables into my cutlets and they had no idea! They loved them anyway. What I’m trying to say, is that once you understand the basics of cutlet making, you don’t need a recipe. You can make almost anything into a cutlet. This recipe is one of my favorites. Enjoy!

Chicken and Potato Cutlets
Prep time: 35 minutes (includes time to cook chicken)
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Makes: 15

2 large chicken breasts
½ teaspoon whole black pepper
1½ teaspoons salt
2 large potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 teaspoons coriander seeds
2-3 teaspoons red chilli flakes, (depending on heat and your preference)
1 tablespoon kasoori methi, crushed
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, finely chopped
½ teaspoon freshly crushed black pepper
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 eggs
Oil for shallow frying

Cook chicken in three cups of water, whole black pepper, and half a teaspoon of salt. The chicken should be cooked well enough so that it falls off the bone easily. It will take about 25-30 minutes over medium-high heat. Cool, shred the meat and put into a large mixing bowl.

Lightly roast cumin and coriander seeds and crush them to a coarse powder.

Add mashed potatoes, the lightly roasted and crushed cumin and coriander powder, chilli flakes, kasoori methi, onions, and cilantro into the large mixing bowl along with the shredded chicken. Add salt and pepper. Mix well. Taste to make sure there is enough salt. Shape into cutlets – either round or oval. Line them on a baking tray.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add oil for shallow frying. There should be enough oil in the pan so that when you put the cutlets in, the oil should come at least half way up the sides of the cutlets.

Beat eggs in a small bowl, and spread the panko crumbs on a plate. Dip each cutlet into the egg and then coat them in breadcrumbs. Add them to the hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.


Chop N’ Drop Chicken Curry

Chop and Drop Chicken Curry

As promised, here is my Chop n’ Drop Chicken Curry recipe. I hope you made the Home-made Garam Masala that I posted last week, because this recipe calls for it. You will be surprised at how easy it is to make this tasty North Indian flavored dish.

Yesterday, I visited two of my friends. It was a fun day for me as I got to test this recipe in their homes. For me, it was a great learning experience, because I was cooking in a different environment with different equipment. For example, I have a gas stove in my kitchen and they had electric stoves in theirs. As a recipe developer, I realized that I described my recipes using the experience I had with a gas stove which might differ slightly with an electric stove.

The best lesson that I learned from cooking with friends was that sharing the cooking experience brought me much more joy than cooking by myself. I have those two friends to thank for this new enlightenment!

Chop n’ Drop Chicken Curry
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6-8

3 pounds chicken, (one large chicken, cut into pieces)
2 cups thinly sliced onion
2 tablespoons grated garlic, (one whole head or bulb)
3 teaspooons Kashmiri chilli powder, (depending on heat and your preference)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons coriander powder
¼ cup water, (or less depending on how much water your chicken gives out)
2 cups diced ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons grated ginger, (or cut into short, thin strips – like matchsticks)
¼ cup ghee
3 teaspoons garam masala, (use Home-made Garam Masala)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 green chillies, slit down the middle, (optional)

Add chicken, onion, garlic, chili, turmeric, coriander, water and salt to a heavy bottomed, wide pan. Please note here that you could add anywhere from two tablespoons to a quarter cup of water, and this would depend on how much water the chicken gives out and whether you drained the chicken well after you washed it. Mix all the ingredients and place on high heat and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a rolling boil, add tomatoes and ginger, stir well, and cook on medium-high heat until the water evaporates and the chicken is cooked – about 10-15 minutes. Add ghee. Stir and fry until the oil separates and the chicken is roasted. Sprinkle garam masala, cilantro and green chillies. Mix everything, cover and cook for five minutes on low heat. Serve with chapatis, naan or rice.

Note: This chicken curry tastes best with the Home-made Garam Masala that you will find in last weeks blog post. You can use one large whole cut up chicken or a combination of pieces. Chicken in the U.S. cooks much faster than in India. So, I cooked it on high heat on a gas stove during the whole process. You may have to adjust the heat and time to make sure the chicken cooks well. I also used ghee for this recipe which added a distinct North Indian flavor and richness to the dish.


Minced Chicken Puffs

Minced Chicken and Egg Puffs

Two lovely young ladies have asked me to share a recipe for puffs, so this blog post is especially for them. Chicken puffs, eggs puffs, and vegetable puffs bring back memories of bakery shops in India. The lovely aroma that came from these shops, as you passed by, was magnetic.

Egg puffs were a popular item in a bakery in Manipal and my children and I would pick some up every Friday afternoon. It was in Manipal where I learned how to make puff pastry from scratch. My teacher was a young lady from Malaysia. Making puff pastry is a tedious process and since puff pastry sheets are available in the frozen section of our grocery stores in the U.S., I’ve used them to save time. This recipe will give you the basics on how to make puffs but use your imagination to make the filling your own. Enjoy.

Minced Chicken Puffs
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves: 6

1 pkg. (17.3-ounces) Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoon finely chopped green chillies, (depending on heat and your preference)
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
¼ cup finely chopped tomato
3 teaspoons Shakti meat masala powder, (or any other meat masala powder)
1 pound minced chicken
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Thaw the pastry sheets at room temperature for 40 minutes or use the directions on the package. Heat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease or line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Stir the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.

Heat oil in a small non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and when they sputter add cumin seeds, onion, and salt. Cook onions until they turn translucent. Then add the ginger, garlic, green chillies, and cilantro. Cook for three minutes or until the raw smell of the garlic disappears. Add tomato and the meat masala powder. Let the tomato cook until the oil separates. Turn the heat to low and add minced chicken. Break up the chicken with your wooden spoon, so there are no lumps. Then turn the heat to medium. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Stir to dry out any water that may remain. Remove from heat and cool completely.

To assemble the puffs:
Unfold one pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface.
Cut the pastry sheet into three strips along the fold marks. Gently roll each strip to make it slightly wider.
Cut each strip in half crosswise, making six pastry rectangles.
Place the pastry rectangles onto the baking sheet.
Put one heaped teaspoon of the chicken filling onto each pastry rectangle.
Brush the edges of the pastry rectangles with a little egg mixture or water.
Fold the pastries in half over the filling to form small rectangles.
Brush the filled puffs with the egg mixture.
Put the tray in the freezer.
Repeat this process with the second puff pastry sheet.
Bake the puffs for 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown. Let the puffs cool on the baking sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes. Serve with ketchup or cilantro and mint chutney.

Please note:
There are two pastry sheets in one package. If you do not want to use the second pastry sheet, you can wrap it in parchment paper, put it in a ziplock bag, and freeze it. Or, you can fill the puffs and freeze them individually wrapped in parchment paper. Bake them at 400°F for 30-35 minutes straight from the freezer. No thawing required.


Hyderabadi Lagan ka Murgh – Hyderabadi Chicken cooked in a “Lagan”

Lagan ka Murgh1

The wide, heavy-bottomed Indian pot called a lagan ensures evenly cooked meat, lentils and vegetables. It is the perfect utensil to cook the famous Hyderabadi Mughlai dish called, “Lagan ka Murgh.” However, if you don’t own a lagan, cook this dish in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot.

I have used chironji (charoli in Hindi) and dry coconut (copra in Hindi) in this recipe. Chironji are kernels of a fruit that has a nutty, musky flavor. Chironji, dry coconut, and ghee are available at Indian grocery stores. Some of my recipes tend to appear lengthy, because I choose to use freshly ground whole spices instead of store-bought, ready-made, spice mixes. You could use store-bought regular garam masala powder instead of the spice powder in this recipe.

Hyderabadi Lagan ka Murgh
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6-8

For the ground paste
¼ cup grated dry coconut, copra
5 cashew nuts
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons chironji

In a small pan, over low heat, roast dry coconut, cashew nuts, poppy seeds and chironji. When the dry coconut turns light brown, remove from heat. Cool completely and add just enough water so you can grind all the ingredients to a smooth paste.

For the spice powder
3 cloves
3 green cardamoms
2 black cardamoms
1 one-inch piece cinnamon
¼ teaspoon caraway seeds, shah jeera
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 teaspoons coriander seeds

In a small pan, over low heat, lightly roast the cloves, cardamom, black cardamoms seeds, cinnamon, caraway, cumin, and coriander seeds until they smell fragrant. Cool, and using a coffee grinder, powder all the ingredients.

To make the Lagan ka Murg
½ cup ghee
2 cups finely sliced onion
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
2 cups tomato puree
3 tablespoons Kashmiri chilli powder
2 crushed green chillies, (depending on heat and your preference)
½ cup finely chopped coriander leaves
¼ cup finely chopped mint leaves
1½ cups yoghurt, beaten until smooth
2 pounds chicken, cut into small pieces
2 cups water
Salt to taste

Place a heavy bottomed pot or a lagan over medium-high heat. Add ghee and the sliced onions. Fry until they turn golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and set aside two tablespoons to garnish the dish.

Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for two minutes, make sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pot, and turn brown. Add the ground paste and fry for three minutes. Crush the fried onions and add it to the rest of the ingredients in the pot. Then add the tomato puree, Kashmiri chilli powder, green chillies, coriander, mint, yoghurt, chicken, water and salt. Mix well, cover with a lid, and let the chicken cook on medium-high heat for five minutes. Sprinkle the spice powder and turn the heat to medium-low.  Let the Lagan ka Murgh simmer for 20 minutes. Garnish with fried onions and coriander leaves. Serve with rice, naans or rotis.

Chapli Kabab

Chapli Kabab4Chicken Chapli Kababs are a great alternative to the all time favorite American burger. I first tasted Chapli Kabab in a Pakistani restaurant in Washington, D.C. You can use minced beef, lamb or chicken to make these spicy and delicious kababs.

This recipe makes about 40 chapli kababs but you can easily halve the recipe. I was cooking for a large crowd and hence the larger amount. I bought two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat and two pounds of chicken breast meat and put it in the freezer for about an hour before I minced it in a food processor. Using dark and white meat kept the kababs moist. You can also buy minced chicken at the grocery store. I used gram flour in this recipe which is called “besan” in Hindi. Besan is made from ground, dried chickpeas, a legume known as chana dal in India. The gram flour can be purchased from an Indian grocery store.

I was lucky to have my daughter in the kitchen helping me fry the chapli kababs, while I formed the balls, flattened them, and put them in the pan. Since I had help, we put three pans on the stove and that made the job of frying the kababs much faster. You might also want to enlist some help when you make them. The chapli kababs freeze well and all you need to do is microwave them for a few minutes before serving. Try them on buns or sandwich thins with a little mayo. That’s how my kids like to eat them.

Chapli Kababs
4 pounds minced chicken
2 cups roughly chopped spring onion (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons grated garlic
2 tablespoons roughly chopped ginger
2 tablespoons roughly chopped green chillies (optional)
2 roughly chopped roma tomatoes
½ cup roughly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chilli flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons roasted and crushed coriander seeds
3 teaspoons gram flour (besan)
Kosher salt to taste
Oil for shallow frying

In a small pan, over low heat, roast the coriander seeds. Crush them in a motar and pestle and set aside.

Put the spring onions, garlic, ginger, chillies, tomatoes, cilantro, and chilli flakes into a food processor and blend until they are finely chopped.

In a large bowl, put minced chicken, the chopped ingredients, the gram flour, the roasted and crushed coriander seeds, and salt. Using your hands mix until just combined. Make 40 balls and place them on two parchment lined trays. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. (I found that using a bowl of water and dipping my hands in them made it easier to make the balls and also in flattening them. You might want to try that.)

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot add two tablespoons of oil and gently swirl the oil in the pan so that it coats the whole surface of the pan. Flatten each ball into a large, thin cutlet or chapli kabab – as thin as you can make them. Fry in batches. Put only two or three kababs at a time in the pan. Fry each side for about three minutes or until they get nicely browned and then turn them over and fry the other side as well. Remove them on to paper towel lined trays. Make the rest of the chapli kababs in the same manner. Garnish the chapli kababs with coriander and mint leaves, spring onions and lemon wedges. Serve them with wheat thins, mayo or cilantro and mint chutney. The recipe for the cilantro and mint chutney can be found at the bottom of the Bangalore Vadais post.

Penne with Chicken in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

PennaThe credit for this recipe goes to my daughter, Jyoti. This Italian pasta, with an Indian twist, is a beautiful springtime dish. It is easy to prepare and requires only a few ingredients.

Many of my Indian friends in the U.S. have a special blend of spices called Telugu masala in their kitchen cabinets. I get my stash of Telugu masala from Aunty Absolom. It’s the best! In this recipe, I’ve given you the choice of using plain chilli powder or Telugu masala. You can adjust the amount to suit your taste.

A few points to remember when making this pasta dish. When cooking the penne, salt the water well. Since the penne will be cooked in the sauce again, cook it just shy of being completely done. There must be a bite to the penne. Italians call it al dente. You can use minced chicken or turkey breast for this recipe. Also, I try to buy the best spaghetti sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese that I find. It makes a big difference! The brand of tomato sauce that I used for this recipe is Paesana and I bought it from Whole Foods.

Penne with Chicken in a Spicy Tomato Sauce
1 13.25 ounce box Barilla whole grain penne (cook to al dente using directions on the box)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ pound minced chicken breast
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
3 teaspoons chilli powder (or Telugu masala)
1 25 ounce jar of spaghetti sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley or spring onion

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the minced chicken and brown, gently breaking it up into bits with a wooden spoon. Add the onion and cook until light brown and tender. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the chilli power and saute for 30 seconds. Then add the spaghetti sauce, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat to low and cook for five minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the penne in a large pot to al dente. Use the directions on the box and make sure that you add enough salt while cooking the penne. Reserve two tablespoons of the cooking water, drain the penne and return it to the pot.  Add the sauce to the penne and toss over medium heat. Add the reserved cooking water and let the penne absorb some of the sauce. Remove from heat after two minutes. Garnish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and parsley or spring onion. Serve with garlic bread and salad.

Amma’s Chicken Curry

Amma’s chicken curry calls for a lot of ingredients, but this recipe never fails to impress. Don’t let the long list of ingredients frighten you. The process is not difficult once you get all the ingredients together. I sometimes add a couple of quartered potatoes to this chicken curry. The fennel, mace petals and star anise gives this dish a very distinctive South Indian flare.

My brothers and sister. I’m on the tricycle!


This dish brings back a lot of childhood memories that I cherish. It reminds me of sitting around the dining table with my parents, brothers and sister, and celebrating birthdays, and other special occasions. I hope it will help build some memories for you too!



3 lbs chicken, remove skin and cut into large pieces
10 dry red chillies
1 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1-inch piece cinnamon
4 cloves
4 green cardamom
2 teaspoons whole black pepper
½ of one star anise
2 mace petals
1 bay leaf
½ cup grated coconut
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 chopped green chillies
¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon mustards seeds
1 sprig curry leaf
2 cups finely chopped red onion
Coarse salt, to taste
1 cup finely chopped tomato
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

Heat one teaspoon oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat and roast the dry red chillies, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom, whole black pepper, star anise, mace, bay leaf, and grated coconut until it smells fragrant and the coconut turns light brown. Add chopped ginger, garlic, chillies and remove from heat. Cool completely and then grind in a blender, with about half a cup of water, to a smooth paste.

Heat ¼ cup oil in a heavy bottomed dish and add the mustard seeds. When they sputter add the curry leaves, onion and salt. Fry until the onion turns golden. Add the ground paste, tomatoes, and turmeric and sauté for two minutes. Add chicken and mix well so the chicken pieces are well coated with the onion and spice mix. Add two cups of water, cover and cook on medium-high heat until the chicken is done. Add lemon juice and garnish with coriander leaves.