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Tomato Chicken Masala (Chettinadu Thakkali Kozhi)

A delicious mildly spiced chicken dish from the Chettinadu region.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Chettinadu, Indian, Tamil Nadu


  • 1 kg chicken skinless, with bones
  • 3- inch piece cinnamon
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 2 onions; finely chopped
  • ¾ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder refer notes
  • 1 tsp freshly grated garlic
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 ½ cup fresh tomato puree
  • Salt to season
  • 4-5 tbsp vegetable oil


  • Heat oil in a kadai/heavy bottom wok; add cinnamon and cardamom and cook on low heat till the cardamoms have plumped up (take care not to burn).
  • Next add the onions and sauté for 1-2 minutes till translucent.
  • Then add the grated ginger and garlic; continue to sauté for another 4-5 minutes on low to medium heat. Next add the turmeric and chilli powder; mix well and cook on low heat for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Next add the tomato puree, season with salt and continue to cook till the oil separates from the masala.
  • Add the chicken pieces and mix well so that the masala coats the chicken. Add ¾ cup water, season with salt and mix again.
  • Cover and cook till the chicken is tender and juicy, stirring occasionally so that the masala does not stick to the bottom of the kadai. The final consistency is that of a thick gravy coating the chicken.
  • Check seasoning and transfer to a bowl. Keep for 10 minutes before serving.


• In Chettinadu cuisine, the red chilli powder used is often made from goondu milagai or round dry red chillies. This chilli powder is mild when compared to that made from other types of dry chillies so adjust quantities if you are using the more heat variety.