October 25, 2006

Chicken Varattiyathu/Chicken Stir Fry

This is a yummy chicken recipe, spicy, hot and yet crunchy with all the pieces of cut dried coconut flavoring it. The recipe is originally Shynee’s Chicken Varuthathu which I had all liked for its intensity. Thanks Shynee!!!! It reminded me of the chicken dishes I had in the resort restaurants in the Backwaters and Wynad, Kerala.
Shallot, which is the main ingredient in this recipe, has a delicious peppery bite to it. Unlike onions, adding a lot of it to a dish doesn’t make it sweet. It still has a distinct flavor even after caramelizing. I made this recipe with just shallots for the family, but when I tried it as a party recipe, I realized the most time consuming part of the recipe is cleaning a whole lot of shallots. So, even though the taste comes form the shallots, I used fewer shallots and increased the quantity of onions. It works just as well to add the shallots in the end as then the flavor is not cooked away. Also I used the ready dry coconut thin cut rounds and chopped it up instead of whole dried coconut. Since I modified certain parts of the recipe, I have to write it down again.
Try it either way; it’s a winner for those who like chicken and spicy food. Tastes good as an appetizer, as a side dish with rice or with breads. The combination of spices succeeds in getting rid of the fatty flavor that sometimes overwhelms the chicken. The chicken I used instead of boneless breasts is Halal chicken, cut up into small pieces; which I feel has a better flavor and texture. Try to make it with quite small cuts of chicken or boneless breasts so that the masala adheres well.

You will need:

Chicken -1 ½ lb (chopped into small pieces)
Indian Shallots-2 cups peeled (chopped) The more the merrier!!
Red Onion-2 large-chopped fine
Dried Coconut (Copra)-1 half-cut into small pieces
Ginger-2 inch piece
Garlic-8 large cloves
Green chillies-8
Red Chili powder-2 tsp
Pepper powder-2 tsp
Coriander powder-2 tsp
Turmeric powder-1 tsp
Garam Masala Powder: 2 tsp
Fennel seed powder-1 tsp
Fenugreek Powder-1/4 tsp
Lemon Juice- 2-3 tbsp
Curry leaves-2 sprigs
Cilantro leaves- 1 handful chopped.
Salt-as required
Canola /Olive Oil-as required


1. Wash the chicken and lightly toss it with lemon juice and rinse again. Drain well onto a slotted drainer. Marinate chicken pieces with a little turmeric powder, chili powder and salt and keep it aside for 30 minutes.
2. Slice the shallots and onions finely and dice the tomatoes. Keep the shallots separate. Grind the cleaned ginger, green chilies and garlic to a fine paste. Keep all the spice powders ready.
3. Heat about 3 tbsp oil in a large shallow pan; add the curry leaves and shallots. Fry the shallots till they start turning a little brown and drain onto paper towels. (Keep aside to be added in the end.)
4. In the remaining oil, sauté sliced onions for about 3-4 minutes on medium heat and immediately add the ground ginger garlic paste, and saute well. Add some more oil (about 2 tbsp) if the onions are sticking to the pan. Then add the chicken, coconut cuts, tomatoes and spice powders and sauté on high heat for a couple of minutes. Do not add any water. Then lower the heat, cover it, and let it cook for about 10 minutes. This is just to cut down on frying time. Take care not to overcook it. The chicken will still have a bit of cooking left which is taken care of by the next step. Open and add salt and now keep stirring till all the water evaporates and the chicken browns evenly.
5. As it gets cooked and the extra liquid evaporates, the curry gives out the excess oil and the chicken and spices get further fried in that. Now add the previously fried shallots and mix well. At this point, it is important to keep stirring on high heat to let it fry all over. No need to add more oil, unless there is absolutely no oil let out by the chicken. The fried shallots also give out oil. This should anywhere between 10-15 minutes depending on the quantity and size of chicken pieces.
6. Check to see if the chicken is cooked. Add some more chopped curry and coriander leaves, sprinkle 1 tsp of lemon juice over the chicken and adjust seasoning.
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indosungod said...

Shaheen, that chicken is mouth watering. Amazingly easy to make too.

Foodie's Hope said...

Chicken looks so good, I need some Shaheen! It's bitter cold here and I am all wrapped up!Thanks girl!

Seema said...

yummmyyyyyyyyyyyyy....looks so deliciousss...can that plate just come on to the table heheeee

Ashwini said...

Yummmm.....this looks so good. Hey do you mean those sambar onions when you say Indian shallots?
Dropped by to tell you I tried your meat samosas and they were just awesome and here you are tempting me with another dish already!!!

gattina said...

Another yummy recipe that I can't wait to try! I really love shallots (much more than onion), esp after fried, so fragrant!

maneka nirmal said...

shaheen..again breaking my poor heart!...hmmmmmmm.....i luv spicy food and i luv chicken too..what to do..wish Newjersey is in Orlando!!

Anonymous said...

This will be my next one. BTW, I tried your fish biryani and we all loved it. Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

interstin recipe. as i don't hav copra, will hav to wait till i get some to try it. with no water n chicken being cooked in oil n its fat, its definitely going to be crunchy and delicious.......
my stuffed okras n ulli samaosas came out well. i used store bot wrapper's for samosa's. so was quite easy also....

Anonymous said...


i am leaving you a comment for the first time but a silent admirer of this blog. i just tried ur kozhi varatiyathu. it is delicious. the climate is cold here(bangalore) and is raining. so an appropriate dish for the day. i hope i can try all the recipies u have posted.

the pictures are amazing.

thanks for the recipie.


shynee said...

Once again Picture perfect shaheen! Wonderfully presented....Hmm...this is indeed a chicken lover's delight....and thanx for mentioning my link...

Mallika said...

This looks so good. And so easy. I love the way you're a fan of keeping things simple... great minds think alike!!

Shaheen said...

Indo: It is simple enough but needs the shallots..

Asha: Its cold here too!! And I am down with cold too.Craving one of ur soups.

Seema: where were u? Happy Diwali!! I bet u hogged on all the Diwali sweets.

Ashwini: shallots are indeed our sambhar onions.. I just love the ulli sambhar!!!So happy to know u tried samosas and liked it.

GAttina:I agree, if I had help cleaning shallots, I would never use onions.

Shaheen said...

Maneka: U can make this, and hmm, so u are in orlando!Disneyland!!This is very similar to ur shrimps, if u notice..

Anon: Thanks and do leave ur name next time. I like knowing who I am talking to.

Anita: Thanks and I appreciate ur sweet comments.. made my day! Do try and let me know even if doesn't turn out well.

SHynee: Thanks for visiting and "blessing" my chicken.:) Hope u start posting soon.I really liked this recipe of urs.

Mallika:Thanks. when u live here with no domestic help, haqv eto keep things simple. Making traditional food itself is a challenge, so have to take shortcuts.

Shaheen said...

KI: good to hear abt ur diwali party. i want more details. nice idea to use wrappers.next on my agenda is ur chicken. I made ur pickle, BTW!!

Priya S&S said...

Hi Shaheen ! Hope you had a wonderful Eid.

Kozhi varatiyathu looks YUMMMM!I prefer shallots for some curries they have a nice flavor.

Meena Kandlakuti said...

nice picture and yummy dish shaheen..looks like you are expert in chicken dishes..since I found many of thme in your blog..thanks for sharing all of them:-)

gattina said...

I have to tell you right way! This dish is DELICIOUS!!! And I got an "order" from my husband, he wants it "regularly" on dining table! :D
I have two questions... why the chicken should be tossed with lemon? And second, I bought my shallots at asian store but not sure if they're Indian type. Any way I can tell?
Most importantly, thank you so much for showing Shynee's link. And I'm very impressed how you write the recipe, so precise and so clear, that help me to predict what happens next. I'm so glad I found your blog!

Shankari said...

This chicken just like the one I used to eat in a hole in the wall place in Chennai that served kerala food.
I am definitely trying this recipe.

rp said...

Wow! Shaheen, you have so many different ways of cooking chicken! I will make this when I have shallots.

Mae said...

Hi Shaheen,

That photo of the chicken looks delish and exotic. Yummi.

I'm sorry for the lack of response to your question on my blog. I have only now had a chance to read comments!

Ok, the true answer is, i don't know if you can substitute butter to oil. I'm on what you may say beginner's side of baking. I still haven't a clue. :)

Shaheen said...

Priya: Eid was good and thanks for your warm wishes.

Meena: I am no expert at chicken dishes, but I keep trying new ways to make it taste better.

Gattina: Thanks a lot. I am glad ur family liked it. If u mean the small light red colored chinese shallots, they are fine. I used to use that till our Indian grocery stores started carrying the tiny red shallots.I toss the chicken with lemon juice to get rid of the smell.

Shankar and Rp: do try and let me know.

Shaheen said...

Mae: Thanks for visitng and commenting.

sra said...

Shaheen, great pic. How do you get those update smileys next to your links?

Karina said...

Wow - does this sound delicious! I love coconut with chicken.

Velina said...

Hi Shaheen,

I just cooked the Chicken Stir Fry and it is delicious. Thank you for this site - it is great for aspiring cooks like me:)

Shaheen said...

sra: the smileys are from blogrolling. Just enroll there.

Karina: hope u will try it.

Velina: thanks for letting me know..Great. are u the Velina I know?

Velina said...

Yes it is me:) I cooked this weekend for Nishad, Nijas and Santhosh. All liked that dish. I think Santhosh the most - so it will become regular on our menu. Thanks a lot. Waiting for more wonderful recipes. I know you are a wonderful cook and everything you post will turn out good.

Shaheen said...

Hi Velina, I am sure u are a wonderful cook too if u can make the 3 guys happy!Thanks a lot for letting me know.

Anonymous said...

Shaheen, this is Rg. I'm drooling here. Ummm... Yum! I don't have shallots/red onions right now, so I guess I'll have to wait until I get them. sounds so yummy... could hardly wait. Thanks Shaheen.

Also, will let you know very soon how the chili recipe turned out.(will be trying it out this weekend) :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Shaheen..

I tried the recipe and it was really awesome..!!!!!!!!!!Your instructions are perfect and wonderful..looking for new ones..

Viji said...

I tried this recipe,it came out very well.I'm waiting for many more recipes like this from u.Thanks shaheen.

Anonymous said...

i absolutely loved your blogsite which i stumbled on while i was at aayi'srecipes. The colors, the food, all very different from I know, bein a good madrasi married to a good konkani. my next trip will be to calicut.

lmk526@hotmail.com said...

This sounds delicious - I want to try to make it. Pardon my American ignorance please, but I thought coriander leaves were the same as curry leaves. Please explain what I should look for. Thanks.

Reshma Mohiyiddin said...

Actually your recipes are making me nostalgic.All these typical muslim recipes remind me of home.Thanks for posting these.I was looking out for almost most of them :-)

Indira said...

Shaheen, the dish turned out to be extraordinarily good. It reminds me of good ol' Kozhikode. Ate this even recently at a restaurant there and I never knew how 'they' did it. Thanks a lot for the clear instructions.

Krish said...

Dear Shaheen
Have turned in to your fan since the Nadan Kozhi curry post. Just made this one and must say it was fab and must say despite drastic reduction in oil, it still tasted fabulous. Thanks a lot and Happy New Year to you and family

Anonymous said...

Dear Shaheen...thank u so much for sharing this receipe...it turned out great...hubby says its just like wat he had in a chennai restuarant...he too has bcum ur fan...thanks once again...

Jean said...

Hi Shaheen,

I tried out this recipe and it was awesome:)My husband(an ardent fan of chicken dishes) liked it very much.
I made a small change to the same. I roasted the coconut cuts before mixing them with the chicken and it tasted even better.
Thanks a lot for this:)Eagerly waiting to try out your other recipes.

priya said...

hi shaheen i hve read ur recipes and i hve tried some of them.....it went very well...i want to sign up with ur blog

priya said...

sometimes ur blog gets locked....so cant read them...wat to do?

Tissy Palack said...

looks really good...the recipe looks pretty close to the one I am used to eating from my mother's kitchen in Kerala, India..I am going to try this tonight... thank you for posting this.

Parvathy Menon said...

this absolutely rocked! my entire family loved this recipe.. :) thanx for posting this gem! :)