2-3tablespoonschopped cilantro(leaves and thin stems)
4-5dropsfresh lime juice
Turn on Instant Pot Saute function. Add cashews (or poppy seeds), shredded coconut, coriander, cumin and fennel seeds, peppercorns, cloves, red chilies, red chile powder, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. Stir and dry toast these for 2-3 minutes. As the spices and coconut begin to turn golden brown, remove promptly and transfer to a blender jar.
Add chopped tomatoes, garlic cloves and peeled ginger in the jar with toasted spices, and blend to a smooth paste. Add water if needed to blend the paste.
Select Saute and adjust to high. Add avocado or olive oil. Add onions, curry leaves and saute for 3 minutes, or until onions turn translucent and become soft.
Add chicken, salt and turmeric and saute for 2 mins.
Turn off Saute. Add half the water and deglaze the pot by scraping off any brown bits that may have stuck at the bottom. Add the Chettinad paste. Add the remaining water to the blender jar, shake it to catch all the paste, then pour that in the pot. Stir well.
Close lid and pressure cook for 6 minutes on high. Note: If using boneless skinless chicken drumsticks, increase cook time to 10 mins. If using chicken breast pieces, reduce cook time to 4 mins. After cooking time is over, wait 10 minutes, then release the pressure manually. You can also let it release naturally.
Open the lid after the pin drops. Turn on saute and simmer the curry to thicken the sauce. Check for seasoning. When done, garnish with chopped cilantro and a drizzle of fresh lime juice. Serve warm with basmati rice, naan, paratha or a crisp homemade dosa.
Whole Spices: The use of whole spices is what makes this quintessentially Chettinad. Make sure to use the freshest you can find.
Red Chile: Traditional chicken Chettinad is made with gundu chillies, but these are hard to find, so I like the widely available Kashmiri red chile powder. However, you can substitute with paprika if Kashmiri is unavailable.
Blender: I find a high-powered blender jar to be the best method for blending the spices, tomatoes, ginger and garlic. If necessary, add water a tablespoon at a time to blend to a smooth consistency.
Chicken: Chicken thighs make this dish extra rich and luxorious, but it can also be made with chicken drumsticks or breasts. Take note of the adjusted pressure cook time in the recipe card.
Turmeric: Ground turmeric is that special spice that transforms the curry from dark to beautifully golden. Make sure not to skip it!
Storage: Store the curry in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Then, thaw overnight before reheating.
Reheat in 1-minute increments in the microwave, stirring in between, or over medium heat on the stovetop. The gravy will naturally tighten after a few days. Add a few tablespoons of water to bring the curry back to its original consistency.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.