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  • Writer's pictureAlissa Love

Kerala Pepper Chicken

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

This is a quick and easy recipe for a dry chicken roast cooked in the style of the region of Kerala, India. South Indian food is packed full of spices and typically require the use of very humble ingredients. Once you build up your pantry with basic Indian spices, this is one of those dishes you can make on lazy days.

I used to be so intimidated by Indian recipes but have learnt some basic tricks along the way. Here are my top few:

  1. Store a bag of curry leaves in the freezer that'll last you for months - never waste unused leaves again. Indian cuisine also uses a lot of onions.

  2. I learnt that the onions make up the base of most dry curries so patience is the key ingredient to flavour your finished dish. Make sure to cook down your onions in every step and don't rush through the recipe!

  3. Keep a jar of equal-parts blended garlic and ginger for quick access. This is used in almost all Indian dishes.

  4. I've made this mistake too many times but - remember that chicken releases water when cooked. This is important to remember so that you do not add too much water to your dry curries rendering it a regular curry in the end. Hold back the water people.

  5. Almonds or cashews are a great natural thickener. If you like your curries thick, blend a handful with your spice mix. When I say handful, I mean 1/2 a cup of nuts (I've used too much before making my dish grainy)

Recipe feeds 4-6 persons.. 10 minutes prep time, total cook time 40 minutes.


For the marinate

1 whole chicken, cut into small pieces

1 teaspoon crushed black pepper - use fresh whole peppers and never ready-made powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

For the dry roast

4 medium red onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoon blended ginger garlic mix

3 whole chili padi

3 tablespoon crushed black pepper - use fresh whole peppers and never ready-made powder

2 teaspoon fennel powder

1 teaspoon garam masala

2 sprigs curry leaves

2 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon oil

2 tablespoon coconut slices

1 tablespoon vinegar

Salt to taste



1. Grind 3.5 tablespoon whole black peppers and keep aside. Adjust and use according to your spice tolerance level.

2. Marinate chicken with 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.

3. In a frying pan, add 1 tablespoon oil and 2 tablespoon coconut slices. Fry until golden brown and set aside.

4. In the same pan, fry 4 sliced medium red onions and 2 sprigs curry leaves until fragrant.

5. Add salt and 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Saute patiently until onions are dark brown and soft. The salt helps the onions cook faster by releasing the water in them.

6. Add 2 tablespoon blended ginger garlic mix, 3 whole chili padi, 2 teaspoon fennel powder, 1 teaspoon garam masala and 3 tablespoon crushed black pepper. Fry and combine until fragrant.

7. Add marinated chicken pieces and mix until onion mixture coats each chicken thoroughly. Add 1 tablespoon water and salt to taste.

8. Cover and cook or 20 minutes.

9. Remove lid and 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Fry until all water is evaporated. Add 2 tablespoon coconut slices and 1 tablespoon vinegar - mix until everything is roasted and dry.

10. Serve with warm rice and a sprinkling of freshly chopped coriander.



1. Chicken releases water when cooked covered so show some restraint and do not add more than 1 tablespoon of water. We want the chicken to roast in the onion and spices, and it's always good to end up with browned chicken pieces.

2. Do not use ready made black pepper powder. That is super processed and does not give off the intended flavour of this dish. I recommend to always use fresh whole peppers and crush it down in a mortar and pestle.

3. Use whole chicken cut into pieces or chicken drumlets/wings. Do not use chicken breast for this dish or it will end up dry and tough.

4. You can skip the coconut slices if you can't find it, but try not to skip the coconut oil.

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