Pepper Chicken Curry

I love, no I adore Indian food! There is something luscious and indulging about the richness of spices, when you dip a piece of naan into a sauce, and slowly bring it to your mouth with anticipation, when you savour a forkful of rice, a morsel of tandori-cooked meat, or a juicy vegetable. Indian food often surprises, and always satisfies. You can imagine how happy I was yesterday when I came across a fantastic recipe for Pepper Chicken Curry on the blogosphere, and even happier when I tried it and it turned out divine! For this, I have to thank two great Indian ladies: Sailu and Mallika! You can find the original recipe on their blogs. Sailu, whose recipe this originally is, gives clear and detailed step-by-step instructions on how to do it, but Mallika clarifies a few points, for me at least, such as to which point to cook the onions. 

I halved the recipe because I was cooking for two people. Also, I had to improvise a little, because I didn’t have any green chillies, ginger and garlic paste or tomatoes. Instead, I used ½ tin chopped tomatoes, fresh garlic and fresh ginger and 2 dried birds eye chillies that made it lovely and spicy, just the way I like it!  Also, I presumed that ‘freshly ground fennel seeds’ meant that I should toast them first, as it is commonly done, and then grind them using pestle and mortar. In my case, that was a cup and a bottle of vanilla essence, because, unfortunately, I don’t have a pestle and mortar. Yet. 😉 There is a little twinkle of kitchen madness in my eyes now, fuelled by dreams of a pretty pestle and mortar… Sigh. I shall have to get one soon! 



 Anyhow, even with the changes I made to the original recipe, the curry turned out absolutely delicious! Here is the recipe below, as I made it:

Pepper Chicken Curry

RECIPE SOURCE: Mallika and Sailu



CUISINE: South Indian   



1/2 kg chicken thighs and drumsticks1 large onion

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped

2 bird’s eye chillies, crushed

½ tin chopped tomatoes

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tbsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp ground fennel seeds, toasted and then ground

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/2 tsp garam masala powder

Fresh coriander to garnish

2 tbsp sunflower oil

Salt to taste


1. Toast ½ tsp of fennel seeds in a pan with high sides (so the fennel seeds don’t jump out easily when you toss them). When they change colour slightly and when you can smell their aroma, take them out of the pan and leave to cool a little. Then, grind them using pestle and mortar, or improvise, like I did (see above).



2. Fry the onions until translucent, and add chopped ginger and dried chillies half way through. My mum always told me that adding a little salt to the onions stops them from sticking to the pan, and this is what I normally do.

3. When the onions start getting translucent, add crushed garlic.

4. When the mixture starts going brown, add the chicken pieces and fry on a high heat for five minutes. Don’t worry, the onions won’t burn. Instead, they will start falling apart to create a lovely thick sauce.

5. Add all the spices, apart from the garam masala. Fry for five minutes on medium heat and then add the chopped tomatoes. Cook uncovered and stir from time to time for 4 – 5 min, or until the chicken is cooked and till the oil separates. If you the chicken starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a little water.

6. Then, let the chicken cook for further 4 – 5 min, covered. Add a little water, according to how thick you like your gravy.

7. Finally add the garam masala, and stir well.  Just before serving, garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot with white steamed rice or naan. 


This curry was delicious! The fennel gave it a lovely flavour and combined with other spices perfectly, without being to overpowering. It was very easy to make, and it used loads of store cupboard ingredients. I will definitely make it again, and I recommend it wholeheartedly!     

Leave a comment


  1. sounds great and very easy 🙂 i laughed when i saw this post; it’s the exact same thing in my next blog entry only a different recipe! LOL. sheesh, we musta been channeling the same thoughts or hunger pangs 😉


  2. btw, that’s an innovative mortar & pestle, hehe. next time try a rolling pin — i broke a cup once doing something similar :0


  3. aninas

     /  29 May, 2007

    hahaha great! can’t wait to see your new post then!

    hm hm i tried a rolling pin… 🙂 … but the handle was too soft, so i replaced it with the vanilla essence bottle 😀


  4. LOL, not in the cup!! my bad, i didn’t explain well: i meant place the spices on the counter on a tea towel and roll away. in any case, sounds like ur method worked. i happen to have a knack for breaking glasses and i’m sure i’d have broken one using your method — either that or the vanilla bottle! that’s a good quality vanilla you have there, too. mighty expensive (i could just see my spices floating in crushed glass and vanilla!! ;))


  5. aninas

     /  30 May, 2007

    I did think that maybe you didn’t mean in the cup, but then all the little spices would be flying around like mad, wouldn’t they? 🙂 The cup is perfect because it stops that from happening. 🙂

    oh god, the images & smells of spices + vanilla + broken glass! hahaha

    btw, the vanilla is not that expensive, £3.99 in UK supermarkets… Mine is from Tesco’s. I tried using various vanilla sugars, but they didn’t taste of anything much, so I gave up. 🙂 i know, should use vanilla pod. 🙂


  6. i guess maybe sticking a piece of either parchment paper or waxpaper over them would help with ‘rogue’ spices flying everywhere 😉 but then again, getting a mortar and pestle would make all this unnecessary in the first place, LOL! i actually invested in a cheap coffee grinder just for that purpose years ago. i find that even the spices fly out of the mortar often; consider getting a bigger one rather than smaller if you purchase.

    a small bottle of pure vanilla extract here is about 6 – 7 dollars cdn$ and it usually doesn’t last long [with me]. the better ones like neilsen massey are usually more. you should try the same brand you have but in the paste form. it is very thick and has the real vanilla seeds in it. it’s more expensive, i think close to 20 cdn, but you have both the vanilla and the seeds for more flavour [called: Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste].


  7. Maninas

     /  30 May, 2007

    Hey, thanks for all the advice! 🙂
    I was actually thinking whether it was better to get a bigger pestle and mortar (so I can fit more in), or smaller with high sides, so the spices don’t fly out! also, what do you think which material is better, with smooth or rough texture. I think that the rough texture may be better for pounding things, but also more difficult to clean.


  8. So glad you liked the recipe! Talking about kitchen disasters – i used tried to put some ginger through a metal garlic press and broke it. Even after years of cooking I still burn myself, burn food and destroy utensils. That’s part of the joy for me…

    U have a lovely blog here. I’ll be back.


  9. Maninas

     /  31 May, 2007

    Thanks, Mallika! I saw some more great recipes on your blog – I’ll be coming back for more! 🙂

    Ginger & garlic press? Yeap, I tried that one, too, though it didn’t break. But needless to say, it didn’t work either, so, kids, don’t do this at home! 😉


  10. bigger or smaller — things fly out of mortars, i find. i made the mistake of buying a small one and it’s a pain if you have a bigger amount; i say buy a bigger one. the texture part, i’d say that’s a personal preference. the lava stone (mexican ones) are VERY good. i have a marble one.


  11. bigger or smaller — things still fly out of mortars, i find. i initially made the mistake of buying a small one and it’s a pain if you have a bigger amount to grind up; i say buy a bigger one.

    the texture part, i’d say that’s a personal preference; i have both kind. the lava stone (mexican ones) “molcajete” are VERY good, as are the suribachi japanese ones. look around before purchasing. the latter two i mention are textured. look here


  12. whoa, that comment didn’t go thru properly … the mexican textured ones, molcajetes, or the japanese suribachis are extremely good and nice to look at. look here .


  13. Maninas

     /  1 June, 2007

    thanks. and how is the marble one? we were thinking of getting a marble one, too.


  14. Maninas

     /  4 June, 2007

    Hi burekaboy, your comment got stuck in my spam folder, and i only got it recently. must be the link that was in it. once again, thanks for the advice.


  15. ohhh, so it didn’t get deleted… you may want to delete the other msg (without link). anywho…. i’m not overly impressed with the marble one however it works well and i like it better than metal ones. i prefer the ones made from lava stone as the surface is better, IMO. marble is still a great choice.



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