Chicken Semi Dry Masala (Chicken Natti Masala)


Hi Friends, I've recreated a dish that I tasted years back at a military hotel. I'm really fond of local cuisine specially tamilnadu and Karnataka border cuisine. In Bangalore, Andhra and Coastal Tamilnadu, people refer Mess as Military hotels. 

What is a Mess? A family run cafeteria, largely operated by hindu community is a mess. Normally a mess, would be situated with in a residential community, we can find such a mess setup in tiny villages. 


Trend for mess food is slowly loosing its place, among younger generation, and few mess owners have their businesses,  relocated in the city naming as military hotels. Coming to the food in military hotels it's all nonveg, and on the spicy side. These dishes do not contain any refined oils or ghee, nor do they use any ready-made masalas. 


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At a Mess or military hotel, every single dish is prepared from scratch. Mess or military hotels, are also referred as natti hotel or natti maane by locals, which literally translates to village hotel in few parts of tamilnadu and karnataka.

Chicken semi dry masala, (chicken natti masala) is a forgotten mess recipe. One can only taste such dishes at southindian homes. Use of sesame oil, fresh ground masala, and tamarind extract, enhances the taste of this chicken curry. For authentic and better results try to experiment using stone ground masala, and free range chicken(country fowl/natti kozhi) for this recipe. 


Ingredients for chicken natti masala:
750 Grams Chicken Curry Cut 
1/2 Tbsp Chilly Powder, 1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder, 
1/2 Tsp Coriander Powder
2 Tomatoes Puree
3 Sprigs Curry Leaves, 4 Dried Red Chilies
1 Tbsp Garam Masala or Chicken Masala
1 Tbsp Tamarind Pulp or Lime Juice 
4 Tbsp Sesame Oil
Salt as per taste

Prepare Red Chilly Masala Paste from Basics of Indian Cooking Series Please Click Here for Recipe.


Ingredients for Red Chilly Masala Paste:
20 Dried Red Chilies
1 Tbsp Pepper Corns
3 Inch Sticks Cinnamon
5 Cardamom Pods
5 Cloves
1/2 Tbsp Fennel Seeds
2 Tbsp Desiccated Coconut
1 Tbsp Coriander Powder 
1/2 Tbsp Turmeric
1 Star Anise
2 Large Onion Sliced
2 Whole Bulbs Garlic Peeled
3 Inch Ginger Peeled
2 Tbsp Oil 

Method to prepare red chilly masala paste:
  • Heat a heavy bottom pan on medium flame add oil. Once the oil smokes add spices, allow to splutter. Add coconut, coriander and turmeric fry a bit. 
  • Add ginger and garlic along with onions, fry on low flame until onions soften a bit. 
  • Once the onions have reduced and softened, allow to cool and transfer to a mixer jar and add a splash of water grind to form a smooth paste. 
  • Store in a airtight container refrigerated until use.

Method to prepare chicken natti masala:
  • Wash the chicken thoroughly. Place the chicken in a colander allowing excess moisture to drain.
  • Grind 2 medium tomatoes using a coffee grinder and reserve.
  • Prepare the above mentioned red chilly masala paste. I've used half the amount of masala to prepare this chicken curry.
  • Heat a heavy bottom pressure pan on medium flame add 4 tbsp of sesame oil bring to a smoking point. 
  • Add dried red chilies and curry leaves to the oil allow to splutter.
  • Once the chilies and curry leaves stop spluttering, add the masala paste, tomato puree and dry masalas(chilly powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and coriander powder) fry the masala till oil separates.
  • Add chicken and fry in the masala for a minute. Add salt stir and place on low flame cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Or cook for 3 whistles.
  • Once the chicken is well done add tamarind extract stir once and bring to a rapid boil and serve hot for roti or biryani...Enjoy:)

I have also compared my chicken semi dry masala pic with shivaji military hotel chicken dry. We thoroughly enjoyed this dish with roti and biryani.

People who are visiting Bangalore should pay a visit to Shivaji military hotel to taste some authentic dishes served here read more on my blog shivaji-military-hotel-bengaluru. 

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