Fiery Hot Chicken in a Black Pepper Sauce – Milagu Kozhi Chettinad

  • Servings : 4
  • Prep Time : 1m
  • Cook Time : 30m
  • Ready In : 1:30 h

A lot of history has been caused by the love of pepper. Together with ginger, pepper  has the longest history of export from South Asia dating back at least 4000 years.  It was the lure of pepper and other spices that brought the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama to the Indian shores in 1498. He landed near Calicut, on the south west coast of the country. Pepper was, and is, grown widely in southern India, and is thus commonly used in dishes from the region. This recipe, as the name suggests, is from the Chettinad region in southern India, an area well known for its spicy culinary delights.

Very often, pepper is grown alongside coffee in these parts. Silver Oak trees are planted in coffee plantations to provide relief from the sun during scorching summers. Coffee vines are then allowed to climb up these tall trees, providing a second layer of income to the farmer.

On our trip to Coorg, we were lucky enough to see pepper vines adorned with bunches of pepper. Whilst on the plant, peppercorns are very green and grow in bunches like grapes. It does look very beautiful. The bunches are then cut and dried. Once dry, the pepper then resembles the black peppercorns that we are so familiar with.

The great British weather, with its winter stretching far into spring this year, has made my Indian soul crave for some warmth. The easiest way to do it is to make some spicy food. Some spice from the tropics, ginger and pepper – what can be better?

This dish however is not for the faint-hearted, it does pack a punch. If you are of a more sensitive disposition, then by all means make a milder version – just quarter the number of peppercorns.

This recipe is once again, from my ever favourite cookbook, Prashad. Do try it.


Skinless chicken pieces- 1-1.5 kg

Coriander leaves, chopped- 1/3 cup


Black peppercorns- 2 tbsp

Yoghurt- 1/2 cup

Ginger paste- 4 tsp

Garlic paste- 4 tsp

Lemon juice- 2 tbsp

Salt to taste

For the gravy

Groundnut oil- 100 ml

Onions- 1 cup

Ginger paste- 4 tsp

Garlic paste- 4 tsp

Tomatoes- 2/3 cup

Garam masala- 1 tsp

Water- 1 cup

Salt to taste


Step 1

For the marination, pound the peppercorns with a pestle and morter. If using a food processor, do not powder too fine. Make a coarse mix.

Step 2

Whisk yoghurt in a large bowl.

Step 3

Add in the pepper, ginger garlic pastes and lemon juice. Add salt. mix well.

Step 4

Add in the chicken and let marinate for at least 30 minutes. A few hours is best.

Step 5

For the gravy, start by finely chopping the tomatoes and onions.

Step 6

Heat oil in a wok and add in the onions. Saute over medium heat till light brown.

Step 7

Add in the ginger and garlic pastes, saute till the onions are golden brown and the pastes lose their raw smell.

Step 8

Add in the tomatoes. Fry for few more minutes till the oil starts separating from the spices.

Step 9

Pick up the chicken from the marinade, and add to the wok . Stir for 4-5 minutes on high heat, till the chicken slightly colours.

Step 10

Now add in the rest of the marinade. Stir for 4-5 minutes and add 1 cup water.

Step 11

Cover with a tight fitting lid and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes, till the chicken is cooked and you can see it separating from the edge of the bones.

Step 12

Adjust the seasoning. Sprinkle the garam masala. Keep covered for 5 minutes for the food to absorb the flavours of the masala.

Step 13

Mix in most of the coriander leaving a quarter of it for garnishing.

Step 14

Serve hot with rice or parathas.

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