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Chicken peratal

Chicken peratal
Recipe type: Curries
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
This medium-hot Malaysian-Indian curry comes from the mother of our senior sub-editor Selma Nadarajah, and is a firm favourite among the MasterChef Magazine team. Peratal is a typical dry Tamil curry. Omit the water in step 4 for an extra dry curry and halve the chilli for a milder version.
  • 1.5kg chicken thigh fillets, each cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tbs ground turmeric (see note)
  • 12 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 160ml (2/3 cup) vegetable oil
  • 8 small onions,
  • 6 thinly sliced,
  • 2 finely chopped
  • 3cm piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
  • 4 sprigs curry leaves, (see note) leaves picked, plus extra, to serve
  • 3 cinnamon quills
  • 10 cardamom pods (see note)
  • 5 star anise (see note)
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground fennel
  • 2 tsp chilli powder (see note)
  • 2 tsp curry powder (see note)
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbs light soy sauce
  • Basmati rice, to serve
  • Cucumber raita
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers, coarsely grated
  • 280g (1 cup) Greek-style yoghurt
  • 2 tbs chopped mint leaves
  • ½ tsp ground cumin, plus extra, to serve
  1. Combine chicken, turmeric, two-thirds of the garlic and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to marinate.
  2. Heat 60ml (1/4 cup) oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Add sliced onions and 1 tsp salt, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add 60ml (1/4 cup) oil to the pan. Place half the chicken in a single layer in the pan and cook for 1 minute each side or until browned (make sure you only brown the chicken and not cook it all the way through). Transfer to a tray. Repeat with the remaining chicken, adding a little extra oil, if necessary.
  4. Wipe the pan clean, place over medium heat and add remaining 2 tbs oil. Add chopped onions and cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Add remaining garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add curry leaves, cinnamon quills, cardamom pods, star anise, cumin, fennel, chilli powder and curry powder, and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add 125ml (1/2 cup) water and return the chicken to the pan and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly.
  5. Meanwhile, to make cucumber raita, place cucumbers, yoghurt, mint and cumin in a bowl and stir to combine.
  6. Stir sugar, soy sauce and sliced onions into the curry until combined. Transfer to a large bowl and top with extra curry leaves. Serve with rice and raita, sprinkled with extra cumin.
For more information about these spices, see our article on curry essentials.
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