Monday, September 20, 2010

Chicken "Mulakittathu"

The Malayalam word, "mulakittathu", could roughly be translated as "put into chilli"! Surely you've all heard of "Mulligatawny soup", which is a South Indian spicy soup, but which basically features pepper. I can't help but wonder if this curry and that soup are somehow related...

Coming back to this chicken curry, I remember having this since forever and my dad says that it's his grandmother's recipe-that's my great-grandmother (of Girija Vilas, Tellicherry) and I'm sure my children and grandchildren will be having it too! It's charm lies in its simplicity-it uses just two masala powders and two whole spices, but the taste and color of the curry, if made correctly, will be delicious and a vibrant red.

Without further ado, here's the recipe (to serve 4)

  1. 500 g chicken (increase the quantity if you're a chicken lover, obviously!)
  2. 5 cloves
  3. 1-inch piece cinnamon
  4. 1-inch piece ginger, chopped fine
  5. 5 flakes garlic
  6. 1 large onion, chopped fine
  7. 1 large tomato, chopped fine
  8. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  9. 2 tablespoons chilli powder (or more, if you can handle it)
  10. Oil-As per your discretion
  11. Salt-To taste
  • In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and let the whole spices (cloves and cinnamon) splutter.
  • Add the onions, ginger and garlic and fry till they get translucently pink.
  • Now tip in the tomatoes and fry till pulpy.
  • Add the masala powders and fry till the raw smell is gone.
  • Add the chicken pieces and stir around till well coated with the masalas.
  • Add about half or one cup of water, enough to cover the chicken pieces.
  • Put the lid on, wait for the steam, put the weight on, and after the first whistle, simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Cool and serve hot with either rice or chapathis.
My mother says it's much more tasty if you cook it in a pan or kadai, on a slow flame, with the lid on, rather than pressure cooking it.
My dad likes to add cubed potatoes and carrots to it (along with the raw chicken pieces). This gives the curry a whole new flavor, especially with the carrots, which makes it sweet and spicy.
In the picture taken above, I had added coconut milk (thick milk, half a cup or 2 tablespoons coconut milk powder dissolved in half a cup of warm water). This was to reduce the spice level for a friend of mine. If you do this, while it will still be delicious, you won't get the original fiery red hue of the chilli powder-so the curry won't be living up to its name!