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The Aerogram - Chai Pani's Malabar Chicken Curry

The Aerogram - Chai Pani's Malabar Chicken Curry

Featured on The Aerogram - Apr 2013

Sonia Chopra’s profile of Chai Pani‘s executive chef and restaurant owner Meherwan Irani (“Chaat-wallah-in-Chief”), made our mouths water for his take on chaat and thalis. Chef Irani graciously shared his recipe for Malabar Chicken Curry from Chai Pani with The Aerogram’s readers, for those of us who won’t be making it to Asheville, North Carolina, or Decatur, Georgia, for a while. What kind of chicken can you use in this recipe? That’s up to you, but we noticed that Irani’s menu states a preference: “We use all natural and sustainably raised chicken, and our meats and dairy are all natural, and antibiotic & hormone free."


2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
½ cup vegetable oil + 1 additional Tbsp.
1 ½ tsp. Spicewalla Brown Mustard Seed
½ tsp. Spicewalla Fenugreek Seeds
12-15 curry leaves, finely chopped
2-3 small dried red chiles
4 cups chopped red onion
2 ½ Tbsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. Spicewalla Kashmiri Chilli 
1 ½ Tbsp. Spicewalla Ground Coriander
1 tsp. Spicewalla Ground Turmeric 
½ cup chopped cilantro (leaves and/or stems)
3 cups chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. Spicewalla Sicilian Sea Salt 
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk


  1. Pour ½ cup oil in a large sauce pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seed, fenugreek seed, curry leaves and red chiles.
  2. Saute for one to two minutes, and then add the ginger and onions. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the onions to brown until they are dark and soft enough to smash with a spatula, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Add the chili powder, coriander, turmeric and cilantro. Mix together.
  4. Increase the heat to medium and add the tomatoes, salt and lime juice. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have disintegrated and the oil separates out, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Add ½ cup water and 1 cup coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat.
  6. In a separate skillet, heat the remaining oil over high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and brown on all sides, leaving the centers pink, about two to four minutes.
  7. Add the chicken to the curry and simmer five to seven minutes until the chicken has cooked through. Serve over basmati rice.


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