Sunday, November 30, 2008

A new twist on an old Kerala Classic – Stuffed Chicken Roast

A couple years back I read somewhere that in the northern part of Kerala, particularly among the Muslim community, there is a culinary tradition of roasting a whole goat stuffed with chicken which again is stuffed with boiled eggs. I don’t know whether this is true or not….those who can contribute to the authenticity of this culinary tradition, please drop a line here.

What I know for sure is that throughout Kerala , we roast a whole chicken stuffed with either curried eggs or meat liver and boiled eggs or the humble Puttu mixed with a dash of Kattan kaaapi/Black coffee along with a couple of boiled eggs. These stuffing and the method of cooking differ from region to region. Some roast the whole chicken, some deep fry the chicken dipped in a flour batter and some follow the dum method and some cook the chicken in gravy. The idea of having a roasted whole chicken with stuffing, on the centre of the dining table is quite fascinating, especially if you have a large family or friends and for the same reason, this dish is often prepared as part of some marriage function or festivals.

For me, the thought of all that mess while carving the whole chicken , at the end of which you re left with some funny looking pieces and the knowledge that stuffing will not be available in all the carved pieces of meat and the amount of leftover that will follow, after feeding our two tiny tummies and finally the difficulty of finding a small chicken of 1 kilo in a country where everything is supersized sort of slowed down my plans to roast a whole chicken.

That’s when the moment of brilliance hit me…instead of stuffing a whole chicken, why not stuff a boneless chicken breast!! I remembered a particular show of Tyler Florence demonstrating stuffing the chicken breast and then pan roasting the same. This alternative sounded more feasible to me and I decided to try a particular stuffing recipe I found in Ms. Ummi Abdulla’s Malabar Muslim Cookery book. I followed her stuffing recipe and adapted the recipe for gravy to suit our taste and used a different method of cooking chicken and stirred in a bit of my imagination and voila, I got a gourmet version of an old Kerala classic which was a pure gastronomic pleasure in all its style and elegance. Here’s how I came up with this dish:

Roasted & Stuffed Chicken breasts:

For marinating & pan-frying the chicken breasts:
  1. 2 medium size boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  2. 1 ¾ tsp chilly powder
  3. ¼ tsp coriander powder
  4. ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  5. ½ tsp fresh ginger paste
  6. ½ tsp fresh garlic paste
  7. 1 tsp lemon juie
  8. 4-6 curry leaves, finely chopped
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Around ¼ cup oil for pan-frying
  11. Kitchen twine
For stuffing:
(Recipe Source: Ms. Ummi Abdulla's Malabar Muslim Cookery; slightly tailored to suit our taste)
  • 1 hardboiled egg, shells removed, and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup split Bengal gram/kadala parippu/chana dal
  • 1 cup water or more to cook split Bengal gram/kadala parippu/chana dal
  • 1tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¾ to 1 cup big onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp fresh ginger paste
  • ½ tsp fresh garlic paste
  • 2 Indian green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp cashewnuts, chopped into small pieces
  • 2tbsp cilantro/coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp homemade Biryani Masala
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 2tsp ghee/clarified butter
For Masala Roast/Gravy:
(Recipe Source: Ms. Ummi Abdulla's Malabar Muslim Cookery; altered the cooking method to suit our taste)
  • 2 cups big onions/thinly sliced
  • 4 Indian Green Chillies
  • 1tsp fresh ginger paste
  • 1tsp garlic paste
  • 2tbsp coriander powder
  • 1tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1tbsp raisins
  • 1tsp powdered fennel seeds/Perinjeerakam
  • ¾ cup fresh tomato puree
  • 1tsp homemade Biryani Masala
  • 2 to 2 ½ tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1tsp Sugar
  • 1tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • 2tsp ghee/clarified butter

  • Butterfly the chicken breast: Place one chicken breast at a time, on a clear plastic wrap, on the cutting board; keep your left hand on top of the chicken breast and with a knife carefully cut lengthwise, from the thickest edge on the right side and moving the knife to the centre; do not cut through fully. Stop before you reach the left edge of the chicken breast and open the breast. This gives you a butterfly shaped chicken breast (which is still connected in the centre) that can be opened like you open a book. Now place another sheet of clear plastic wrap on top of the butterflied chicken breast and start pounding the chicken with gentle yet firm hits, using a meat mallet or rolling pin or a bottom of a small pan, to flatten and reduce the thickness of meat to around ¼ to ½ inch. At the end of this cutting process, you will have a more thin meat piece with more surface area. (Note: For a pictorial explanation, click on this read or this video)
  • Marinate: Start by mixing all the ingredients from 2 to 9 and marinate only the smooth side (not the pounded/flattened side) of the chicken breast and leave it on the kitchen counter for 1 hour.
  • Prepare the stuffing: Wash and cook split Bengal gram/kadala parippu/chana dal , with coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt, until water it is cooked to soft and water is absorbed (I followed pressure cooking method for this). Heat ghee in a small shallow pan, cook thinly sliced onions till it is transparent. Add green chillies , ginger and garlic paste and stir for a minute. To this add the cooked split Bengal gram/kadala parippu/chana dal, chopped cashew nuts, coriander leaves and sprinkle homemade biryani masala and sugar and stir well. Do a taste test and adjust the salt. Turn off the stove and keep aside.
  • Stuff the butterflied chicken breasts: Divide the stuffing into two equal portions. Place half of the stuffing on the pounded side of the chicken breast which is not marinated with spices and herbs. On top of it, layer half of the thinly sliced hardboiled eggs and carefully roll this, securing the stuffing tightly inside and tie the stuffed and rolled chicken breasts with a kitchen twine as in the picture given above. Repeat this process for the second one too.
  • Pan-fry the stuffed and rolled chicken breasts: Heat oil in a large shallow pan, and when it is hot, place the stuffed and rolled chicken breast and fry each side for 1 to 1 ½ minute in medium heat and immediately transfer this to the baking dish and cover it with a sheet of aluminum foil to lock in the moisture. At this stage, you should not cook the meat more than the time I have mentioned as you continue to cook for longer time during baking. Pan-frying technique is used mainly to add one more layer of richness as well as to hold its shape.
  • Prepare the Masala Roast/Gravy: To the same pan , in which you pan fried the chicken breasts, add ghee to the leftover oil. Add thinly sliced onions and green chillies and cook till the edges begin to turn brown. Add ginger and garlic paste and fry for a minute. Add the raisins and stir for few seconds. Sprinkle coriander powder, chilli powder and turmeric powder and blend well with the onion base , until the raw smell goes. Now add the tomato puree, powdered fennel seeds and biryani masala and cook for a minute or two. At this stage, add sugar, lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves. Do a taste test and add salt if required. Turn off the stove and pour everything on top of the chicken breast, making sure that the pan fried stuffed and rolled chicken breasts are lying on a bed of the gravy.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F. When the oven is heated well, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 15-20 minutes. Halfway through the baking process, turn the chicken breasts to the other side and pour the gravy on top, else the meat is likely to turn dry. When chicken is cooked, turn off the oven and take out the dish and let it cool on kitchen counter for minimum 30 minutes. Continue to keep it covered with the aluminum foil to maintain the moisture in the meat. (Note: Cooking time varies depending on the oven , the thickness of the meat as well as the extent of cooking done at the pan-frying stage)
  • When ready to serve, cut off the kitchen twine and slice the stuffed and roasted chicken into 2" pieces; place 1 or two sliced ones on a bed of roasted masala.
  • Serve with Ghee rice/peas Pulao/Jeera rice or any flat breads like Chappathi or Pathiri
Tip: To make fresh tomato puree at home, the easiest method is to grate the tomato using a hand grater or box grater; the puree drips into the bowl and you will be left with the skins. Continue grating until you re left with most of the skin. Tip courtesy: Ms. Madhur Jaffrey.

Verdict: I don't say this very often in my blog especially for dishes I have used my imagination but for this dish, I must say this, "AWESOME" and “ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS". This is easily one of the best chicken dishes I have prepared and recommend for any special occasions where you want to prepare something different from the ordinary, to dazzle your family and guests. The Masala Roast/gravy has a balanced spice and herb mix that exudes a level of strength and richness to complement the mildly flavored lentil and boiled egg stuffing . The occasional bite into raisins along with the spicy masala is a pleasant surprise as in plate of Biryani. If you trust me, take my word, go ahead and give it a try :)

Related Posts:

Chicken Roast - Kuttanadan Style Kerala Chicken Stew Chicken Fry Chicken Biriyani


Well, we all know that a group of nutcases took a boat ride to my country and hoarded 75kg mutton, so they can feed themselves while they kept many innocent people at gunpoint and unleashed terror throughout the city and country. I don’t know if I am angry with crazy guys who kept a city under siege for three days or more frustrated at the ineffectiveness and failure of the intelligence agency and the blame game that followed or plain sad with those who lost their lives, children who are orphaned and spouses who are widowed now……….Though I was anxious about the safety of my cousin and niece and a bunch of friends, I cannot even imagine the trauma these hostages experienced or the pain suffered by many who lost their loved ones…………I wish the political machinery is more responsible to assure atleast reasonable safety to the common man …….my thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy and salutes to those who fought courageously to save the lives of many..


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  1. I love stuffed chicken roasted...make it atleast a couple of times..I do a diff version..

    But I always end up with leftover ur idea of using a chicken breast...

    About the incident at B'bay//Like always the blame game is going headstrong....

  2. ichiri pada alle...:-))
    ennalum looks good...

  3. That is a really cool idea to use the chicken breast.... It looks absolutely delicious, I am bookmarking this to try! BTW, try Cornish game hens for the whole chicken recipes for 2.

  4. my sis in law and i used to stuff chicken whole and cook it in the microwave. the stuffing mainly had tons of onions, tomatoes, bread, potatoes, ginger-garlic and what not. There was no set recipe, we just used to follow some recipe blindly. and each time it rocked.

    wish we had thought of adding boiled egg at that time. this looks delicious!

  5. It is true Mish, but that stuffing actually came from Arabs.. If u r here, I will have reached there to taste this.. :)

  6. Hi Shn

    This simply looks amazing,must try it out soon. I tried your chicken stew, i did not get your white colour but I had sauted the onions till it became a golden brown, maybe that's why.

    It hurts so much to see our country burning.

  7. I like that brainwave of stuffing breasts instead of a whole chicken! On another note, the terror attacks were scary, like watching a movie tho' this was very real!

  8. One of the best place for kerala dishes is here. This is really awondrufl dish. My mom used to make stiffed roast chicken when we were in holiday in my dads native place.
    But this one is really yummy looking. I liked the idea of you going them with chicken breast. I am sure bookmarking this recipe.
    Stuffing goat with chciken that is new to me.
    Love to hear more about this, when you get mails about this unusual recipe, not that i will make the goat dish, just curious

  9. I haven't heard of a goat stuffed with chicken stuffed with eggs. Must be something like a turducken(turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken!) they make here in the US? Also stuffing with puttu mix is also new to me. I love the malabari stuffed whole chicken, but I don't make it often. Stuffing chicken breast is such a wonderful and smart idea!...and it looks too good.

  10. I have eaten stuff chicken in sis place. Her MIL makes it, the stuffing is simple fried rice and then the whole chicken is fried and has counconut milk gravy kept in side . Its yummy. But chicken, egg, lentil,OMG, you have kicked it up a notch.

    pakka veg now. will try it soon esp since u have admited it is a awesome dish.

    My bleed for mumbai

  11. Oh my Mishmash! this one is a killer! I ll defnitely try this someday.

    and the terror attack is sickening, din kno abt te 75 kg mutton tho, read somewhere that they ordered 10 kilo biriyani :o what is the world coming to!

  12. very have put two of my favourite things in there...chicken and eggs..;-D

    Chicken roast used to be my favourite with parotta..long time since I had that as well..

    Ee recipe would surely be tried out next year..I am too lazy to cook anymore this year....;-P

  13. Yes, you are right about the goat being stuffed with a chicken and the chicken stuffed with eggs. In Northern Kerala, this is a delicacy among the muslims and is done the day after a wedding for the groom, or during a large salkaram(party). Your chicken looks absolutely mouth watering. Got to try it.

  14. are one hardworking person..:)
    I have heard about this dish in malabar ,in which first chicken is stuffed with some eggs +gravy and then it is filled with tons of onion-tomato-masala gravy in a fried hell of a dish..served during iftars and all..

  15. Rachel, Thanks for the link...your stuffing is lil different...but thats something you can use in a sandwich it's actually good to have leftovers :D

    Ras, kurachu pani undu..pakshe it's all small scale wont really feel the effort...but takes time to put everything together :) Thanks!

    Sig, thanks a should try.. make the stuffing in advance to save some time....I was having some mind block towards cornish hens...i think i must give a try sometime soon.

    Nags,boiled egg is common in most places back home for such a dish...i have heard a combo of boiled egg + bread and potatoes....

    Seena, Thank you very much for confirming ...yeah , even i was thinking it is the arab influence as i have heard about this stuffed camel dish in Saudi..perhaps, when they came here they didnt see any camel, so the next best thing they could think of was stuffing a goat :D i guess there they stuff a baby camel with lamb...btw, veetil varumbo paranjittu varane...eppazhum ethonnum undavilla...njan nalla oru madichiyaa :)

    Maya, my chicken stew doesn't have white colour has a creamy shade...dont brown the onion..stop at the transparent stage. Also with any meat stews, you wont get the same colour as in potato stew, coz of the stock produced ...beef stew has much a darker shade...Thanks for the feedback...quite glad to know you tried:)

    Jyothsna, i was impressed too :P

    Happy Cook, thank you very much...Do try and let me know.. :)well you can feed your curiosity now....some of the responses confirm the existence of such a dish :) I wish I could taste it once....

    RP, yeah similar to turducken but here they go one step beyond the bird category and use red meat too. From the comments I recieved, such a delicacy exists...part of the arab traditions left line with their stuffed camel:) if you re using chicken breasts, you can make your fav prep more often,isn;t it? :)

    Pooja, ayyo enthu pattee veg'n now? noyambu aano? the stuffing u mentioned and the coconut milk gravy is new to if u have some leftover fried rice u can stuff a chicken right...much easier :)

    Vidya, thanks:) btw, 10 kg they were really in for a sumptuous somewhere that they had dry fruits too..!

    Mathew, porotta and beef fry njangallkku vendi koodi kazhikkane....ho...orthittu vaayil vellam varunnu :( pls cook something and eat,else amma will think u were 'pattini 'there seeing all the aakraantham :D

    My comfort food, thanks a bunch for confirming this :) i have heard about the sumptuous feast during salkkaaram......i wish i could be a part of it sometime :)

    Varsha, haha...thanks :) ho u made me more hungry.....!! now i really want to taste this dish....thanks a lot for dropping by and confirming it :)


  16. stuffing chicken breast is a good idea. Looks so mouth watering...wish i was at that table.

  17. I did read the comments. Aparetnly it is famous dish, i would also like to try once that goat dish.
    One never knows maybe in a trip to a part of indian and suddenly you see this in a place ;-)

  18. hi mishmash, i read about this stuffed dish in 'balarama' children s mag long ago..they were telling it s an arab preparation.. it doesnt end with the goat.. the goat is then stuffed inside camel and cooked.. hows that?

  19. I would call this innovative cookin.. will def try this sometime and let u know :)

  20. This looks absolutely delicious..even the stuffed chicken breast ,deep pan fried will taste great ...
    Somewhere I read about stuffing the Cornish Hen cuz they are small and easy to handle..Not so sure about it ..may be you know it already...
    hugs and smiles

  21. What a gorgeous dish, Shn.

    And yes, all the craziness breaks one's heart :-(

  22. Just the other day a friend was talking about egg-in-a-chicken-in- a-goat-in-a-camel thing! and there you have written about something similar ofcourse minus the camel and the goat:)!!(also saw the same mentioned in one of the comments-so perhaps he really was not bluffing:)!Interesting recipe Mishmash..


  23. Awesome and I gonna try this soon. How interesting recipe is this. U have decribed it so well Mishmash.

  24. U ought to publish ur recipes in d newspapers here. Its such a pleasure to read ur recipes after going thro reams of disturbing newsprint. Hope someday all this comes to an end. Ending this note with a prayer that no such incidents occur in any part of my world. Let peace prevail. Btw the pictures are awesome. The recipe surely will be mindblowing.

  25. OMG..thats a beautiful picture shn!!!..really very inviting...

  26. hi shn...i had missed out this post..
    this looks so new to me..have never heard of a naadan style stuffed chicken...

  27. well, don't worry mishmash, your nutcracks hadn't loaded their boat with 75 kg of mutton, they had used that space for much more hot stuff, like ammunition. well, can you imagine gun-trotting guys running into a hotel carrying loads of mutton instead of bullets and grenades ! and, they did get time to sit down and wolf down biriyani and mutton !
    beware of the media, that's all i have to say. some later reports were saying the guys were high on stimulative drugs, to keep hunger and sleep at bay, which is more likely.
    anyway, we all watched the incidents unfold for three days, live. and, yet to get over the whole mental trauma. so, what about those who were at the hotels, the CST and dear old leopold...

  28. I bet this definitely helps with adding flavor to chicken breasts. I do think this sounds much easier than the other dishes you mentioned, very tasty too :). I'd like to share your recipe with our readers! Please let me know if you're interested.

    Sophie, Key Ingredient Chief Blogger

  29. hi ,
    Actually im a big fan of ur recipes...i used to try almost ur recipes n coming gr8. but Sori to tel u this one was a failure...didnt net ny expectation after the long effort.
    i have taken the whole chicken stuffed from frnds home it was really heaven...
    but this stuffing didnt came so good ,just like a north indian dal inside....
    me really depressed

  30. hi the stuffing was not so good as in traditional style

  31. Yes it was owesome. Your imagination into making this dish tells, you are a cook! Really appreciate what you are doing.
    Thank you.


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