September 23, 2011

Varutharacha Kozhi Curry/ Chicken with Roasted Spices..

Some curries are traditional... plenty of coriander, plenty of coconut milk, a whiff of spices, an amalgamation of masalas...They taste the best with the salty coastal air, the rush and the sound of rain...
But if its raining outside, making them at home and a taste of it with pathiri or puttu.... can transport you in a second to somewhere else, melding with the pumpkins, the September rush and the fall weather and the nip in the air....

Back home, where spices are plenty...... for some curries, coriander, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, (all the stuff our spice coast is famous for),  are roasted tossing and turning in a cast iron skillet over a wood burning flame till the spices get  fragrant and turn into varying shades of brown. Most of the time, (since it's a Kerala curry), some coconut  is also roasted, the shade acquired varying from light brown in Northern parts of Kerala to a dark brown in the Southern recipes.... then the spices and the coconut are hand ground to a fine paste (or blend in a blender now) to create what is called a "varutha"(roasted)" aracha"(ground) curry. 

Anyone nostalgic? As one friend sitting in Calicut said, it's the taste you can't beat...  freshly ground chilli powder, fragrant coconut oil fresh from the mills...etc makes a substantial difference, not to 
mention little cooking secrets that our mums and aunts are reluctant to part with..
or are you heading to get some pre-roasted imported coriander powder, some coconut milk , some chicken to try and simulate the curry here in a fraction of the time?

Anyway, this curry can be made as dry as you like or as "neetiyathu"( stretched )as you like.. meaning with lots of gravy. By doubling the quantity of the spices and onions etc, but keeping the same chicken, you can make it a curry with lots of gravy for appam or puttu.  Or keep it on the flame to make it a dry curry.  
My mom used to relate incidents of the old days in the "tharavadu" where the curry starts out with lots of chicken pieces but if there are unexpected guests, it keeps getting stretched till its more of a chicken flavored curry with barely any pieces. Contrast that with our plentiful eating habits now!!
Anyway, thought I would just update the blog just to keep it alive and kicking for anyone who is interested in following my recipes.:) This is not a full version or an authentic varutha aracha curry, but this is one of the ways how I make it.

You will need:
Chicken-1 ½ lb, (700gm) cleaned and cut into small pieces.
Onions-2 medium sized ones sliced finely
Tomatoes-2 plum tomatoes
Hot Green chilies - 4-6 as per taste
Ginger- 1 inch ginger, grind or grate.
Garlic  6-7 cloves.. grind or crush to a paste.
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red hot chili powder- 2 tsp (more or less as per taste)

Coriander, curry leaves- each a small handful, chopped
Salt - to taste
Oil-4 tbsp

Whole spices- 1 small piece of cinnamon, 1 bay leaf, 2 cloves

To Roast:
Grated Coconut-3 tbsp
Coriander seeds-2 tsp
Black Pepper-1/2 tsp

To Garnish:
Curry leaves-7-8

Wash the chicken and lightly toss it with lemon juice and rinse again. Drain well onto a slotted drainer. Marinate with the turmeric, the red chili powder, ginger -garlic paste, salt and keep aside for about 1 hour or so. Roast the ingredients for roasting in 1 tsp oil in a skillet till nicely browned and then grind to a paste. If you are using powders, remember not to roast for too long as it will get burnt fast and you could even use coconut milk instead of grated coconut.

Heat the 2tbsp oil in a large  pan and add the chicken and shallow fry them on all sides. Remove and keep aside. Add a bit more oil to the pan..add the whole spices. Then add the onions and green chilies. When the onions start turning brown, add the tomatoes. Let them cook till they break down and then add the previously sauted chicken, the ground paste and saute well till the spices are mixed well and the chicken is coated with the spices. Add 1 cup water. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes till the chicken is cooked. Smaller pieces cook faster so depending on the size of the pieces, cooking time will vary. Open, adjust the taste and add more water or coconut milk if it looks too dry.

To garnish.. Slice the shallots finely and fry in coconut oil till brown and then throw in some curry leaves and pour over the curry.
Let it rest covered for five minutes to let the flavors blend.


Tina said...

spicy and mouthwatering curry..Pass one bowl dear...yummy.

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Bong Mom said...

hey, how are you ? Chicken curry sounds real good

Reshmi Mahesh said...

Super curry...vayayil vellam vannu..:)

MyKitchen Flavors-BonAppetit!. said...

Varutha Kozhi Curry luks yumm in ur click and the recipe too.Thanks for sharing.

viju said...

Thanks Mallugirl for all the authentic recipes I am a maharashtrian married to a malayali and you have helped me a lot in keeping my hubby from getting homesick !

Nilapenn said...


Miri said...

Love the freshly roasted spices which make such a difference to the curry!

Seema Kamath alias Seema Abbas Ali said...

Wow, that bowl of chicken is very tempting. Gotta give it a try.


prateek_sethi said...

thanks for sharing......
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Mike said...

This sounds great. We will give this a try this weekend.

Arc said...

Just a question on Kerala Mela. I have been a visitor to your blog and many others and the kerala mela website. Looks like now it needs permission. How do I get it? Can I email someone? I am from Kerala and have been living in US for a long time now and I loved the kerala mela site. Any information would be appreciated.

Janet said...

This sounds like something our family can really get into. Thanks for putting the post up!

Annette said...

Chicken curry sounds wonderful and makes my mouth water.

Jina said...

Im so glad you are back.
And Im gonna try this first thing the enxt time I buy chicken.

Shri said...

I meander now and then through your blog.I don't often leave comments but do love what you do in this space.:-)

Unknown said...

Hi. I have been Enjoying your blogs for some time now and a bit alarmed that your bored of it. Pls don't quit. Your recipes are great and your narrations make your blog even better. As a malabar Muslim living outside for more than 37 years scanning blogs from people of a similar background keeps me connected, the recipes bring alive memories, smells and forgotten traditions. So don't give up. As you can see there are people out in the cyber world who do enjoy your efforts. Zeenath