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Christine Manfield’s Chettinad Black Pepper Chicken Fry

Preparation time
20-25 mins
Cooking time
25-30 mins


5 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tbsp minced ginger

2 tbsp vegetable oil

3 cm piece cinnamon stick

2 green cardamom pods, cracked

2 white onions, finely diced

2 ripe tomatoes, diced

2 tsp salt

1 kg chicken thigh fillets, cut into pieces

Coriander leaves to garnish

Pepper masala

3 tsp fennel seeds

3 tsp cumin seeds

3 tsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp black peppercorns

4 small dried red chillies


  1. To make the pepper masala, dry-roast the spices over a gentle heat. Cool. Using a spice grinder, (or clean coffee grinder) grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container and use as required.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and ginger to a smooth paste.
  3. Heat the oil in a wide, heavy-based saucepan and fry the cinnamon and cardamom over moderate heat for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the onion and stir over a high heat until golden, approximately 4 minutes. Add half the pepper masala and stir until fragrant. Add the tomato and fry for a few minutes, then season with the salt and cook, stirring, for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add chicken pieces and stir until they are coated with the aromatics. Fry for 3−4 minutes until the chicken is beginning to colour. Add 150ml water, cover pan with lid.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the chicken is tender.
  6. Remove from the heat and check for seasoning. Serve with steamed rice, sprinkled with coriander.
Preparation time
20-25 mins
Cooking time
25-30 mins


Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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