Pepper Chicken Masala

If you google the recipe for Kerala style pepper chicken, you’ll find millions of recipes. 9 out of 10 recipes will call for the same spices and more or less the same style of preparation. Some traditional recipes just don’t get outdated. My version of pepper chicken calls for similar spices. But its much simpler.

My recipe is very simple. I’ve used very simple everyday spices- a freshly ground mix. I recently bought fresh whole spices and I was really excited to use them. But you can use spice powders without much difference in taste. Obviously, freshly ground spices come with the depth of flavour. But again, if I didn’t have sealed packets of newly bought spices, I would have probably gone for the powders.


Like any chicken dish, there is basic marination.

Dry roast the spices, if using, powder it and keep it aside.


Like any other Kerala style dish, there is coconut oil and curry leaves and shallots fried in coconut oil. You might think I’m stereotyping but I think that’s the beauty Kerala food. Coconut oil ties Kerala cuisine together. Even if a dish didn’t call for coconut oil specifically, if its Kerala style preparation, it needs coconut oil.

The ginger and garlic go in once the onions have softened and become translucent. were not looking to brown it, only bringing out the moisture.

And finally, the tomatoes go in. And once the tomatoes start releasing water, add in the spices, some water and cook for a few minutes with lid.

Add the chicken pieces and cook till the water released from the chicken evaporates. Set aside. Pan roast it on medium flame by stirring it every now and then.

You can add a cup of coconut milk to this mix if you want to make it gravy.



Ginger paste- 1 tablespoon
Garlic Paste- 1 tablespoon
Tumeric- 1 teaspoon
Salt- 1 teaspoon
Lemon juice- 2 teaspoon

Black peppercorns- 2 teaspoon
Green peppercorns- 3 teaspoon
Fennel- 1.5 teaspoon
Cumin- 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander- 1.5 Teaspoon

(If not using spice powders-
Pepper powder- 2 tablespoons
Cumin powder- 1/4 teaspoon
coriander powder 1/2 teaspoon 
fennel powder- 1/2 teaspoon)

Chicken- 400 grams
Mustard seeds- 1 teaspoon
Ginger- 2 tablespoons, chopped
Garlic- 2 tablespoons, chopped
Onion- 1 medium, Chopped
Tomato- 1 small, Chopped
Garam masala- 1.5 teaspoon
Salt- To taste

To serve-

  1. Marinate the chicken using the ingredients listed under marination. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Dry roast the spices in a pan, including the pepper for 5-10 minutes till it starts giving a nice aroma. Let it cool and then powder it.
  3. In a saucepan, add the oil and mustard. When it starts to pop, add in the curry leaves. Saute for a minute. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Once the tomatoes start releasing water, add the ground spices, garam masala, salt and a cup of water. Cook with the lid on for 5 minutes. Roast it with some oil for another 10 minutes.
  4. Serve it with some lemon squeezed on top, rice, pickle and pappad.



To make it a gravy with rice, you can add a cup of coconut milk and bring to a boil. Adjust the salt as needed.

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