Sunday, November 16, 2008

Kerala Chicken Stew……Flavourful & Elegant!

“You can be cultural ambassadors sitting in your own dining room” – Mishmash!

I am not kidding…..think about it…..when you stay away from your homeland, the food you serve to others, who belong to different cultures and cuisines, is a representation of your own homeland, its years of culinary legacy and hence a part of its culture. Most of the time food is powerful enough to stir up an active discussion among your guests on various cuisines and styles or if I may put it simply, it’s a sure ‘conversation piece’. Food is a window to knowing a new culture and sometimes a good avenue to learn a bit of new language as well.

Well, this inference I have made is based on my personal experiences……Ever since I learned cooking and ever since I gained the confidence to invite people home for food, I have noticed our friends getting excited and showing a genuine interest in discussing and finding out about our traditional Kerala cuisine. Consciously or unconsciously it has influenced our menu planning too. Even when I start our dinner gatherings with a fancy finger food and wrap it up with a decadent and elegant dessert, I make sure that the main food served is our traditional food showcasing the culinary legacy of my homeland, especially if our friends are non-Keralites and visiting us for the first time. One of the regular appearances in such occasions is a thick and creamy stew, meat or vegetable, served with white bread or Paalappam. I got this habit partly because that is how my mother hosted such dinners. She always served a course of stew and Paalappam or the classic stewed fish preparation, Fish Molee with white bread. My family background paired with our friends’ excitement over discovering such delightful creations, always gave me a nudge to include this combination whenever I hosted dinners. Most of the time we saw our friends initiating a discussion on their culinary traditions and variations of the same or similar preparations……it always brought us together, creating a more cozy and warm atmosphere and here I am convinced quite well that food can bring people together and one can be cultural ambassadors sitting in one’s own dining room.

Whenever we served stew, it was always a delight to our friends…..something new but very scrumptious. I was asked to share the recipes on numerous occasions……………I have even come across men who made me mail the recipes to them, so their wives could recreate this tasty creation at home. So when we hosted a dinner two days back, I had this natural inclination to go for Paalappam and Stew and what followed was repetition of the history itself. They loved it so much! So I thought I will share my family recipe for Chicken Stew, which is stewed chicken in silky and creamy coconut milk, embellished with minimum spices and herbs. It’s amazing how such simple ingredients can turn a dish into pure elegance.


For pressure cooking:
  • ½ kg chicken with bones, cubed and cleaned
  • 5 Indian green chillies, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¾- 1 tbsp garlic, thinly sliced
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper powder
  • Salt to taste
For Stewing:
  • 1 large (golden) onion thinly sliced
  • 8-10 Indian green chillies, split lengthwise
  • 1 tsp ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 1 medium size potato
  • ½ tsp + ¼ tsp homemade masala powder/garam masala
  • 1 ¾ to 2 cups of thin coconut milk
  • ½ cup thick coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
For Garnish: (optional)
  • ¾ tbsp ghee
  • 8-10 cashew nuts, split opened
  • Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients specified under pressure cooking for 10 minutes and then pressure cook until chicken is well-done. I usually wait for 3-4 whistles.
  • While chicken is cooking, wash the potato well and cube them into small chunks. Microwave or boil the potato with a pinch of salt and enough water, till it is cooked and when warm enough to touch, peel off the skin from the potato.
  • Heat oil in a large saucepot, when chicken is done and cooled enough to open the pressure cooker. Add thinly sliced onion and cook till it begins to soften. Now add the green chillies and ginger and curry leaves and cook till onions are transparent. At this stage add the pressure cooked chicken, including the stock it produced while cooking as well as the boiled potato chunks and sprinkle ½ tsp homemade masala powder/garam masala. Stir gently to mix everything coated well and let the boiled potatoes suck up some chicken stock for 2 minutes. Mildly press on the potato chunks with the back of a wooden spoon, so it gets mashed partially still holding a firm shape. Pour thin coconut milk and bring to a boil and then simmer it for around 10-15 mts or until the sauce begins to thicken. Now add the thick coconut milk and sprinkle 1/4 tsp homemade masala powder/garam masala; in medium heat bring it to a boil and immediately reduce the heat, until it reaches a creamy and thick stew consistency. Just before turning off the stove, add rest of the curry leaves for the flavour and fragrance and stir well.
  • In another shallow pan, heat ghee and roast the cashew till they begin to look golden. Pour the entire thing to the top of the dish. This dish gains its taste and flavour as it rests for a while, so please make sure that you cook this atleast 1 hour before serving.
  • Goes best with Paalappam or white bread. Ideal with Chappathi as well.
Note: My mother suggests adding 4-5 pieces of raw carrot, along with cooked chicken and boiled potatoes, to bring in some colour in the stew to make it look more appealing but make sure that you use very few small pieces without adding more carrot flavour to the stew. Also it is advisable not to go for boneless chicken as the dish will lack the flavour and juices produced by bones while cooking.

Can you imagine the delight of having this rich and creamy chicken stew with the elegant and pretty looking laced beauty, Paalappam as a breakfast on a weekend? It’s awesome…divine! I can easily make a claim that this is one of the best breakfasts in the world!

Related Posts:

Paalappam Fish Molee Potato Stew Beef Stew


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  1. Definitely Food speaks for your country and culture !! Its having a mesmerising effect on people..And yes,it may talk about the country's geography..
    My daughters school this year had "UN DAY with FOOD"..Every country had a food stall where they will serve and explain about the food.Tons of fun..As Indian population in the school is too small,I had to make 3 items.I made Athishayappathiri,Chicken Biriyani and a Semiya Payasam.You know mish,i was completely excited by the response..they all came to talk with me..about food and recipe,culture and so on..gave me some meaningful friends here..and the school Principal,who is a British,had so many exciting things to share me about Kerala..
    So,as you put it,you can be a cultural rep anytime through good food..
    We,both my hubby and myself are Appam fans and so serve Appam and stew for all the guests coming here too...Seeing their content faces and many enquiries on this food,we will be forced to make it again..
    Your stew is absolutely yummy to tempt a fasting poor woman like me today..

  2. Luved the pic..
    Never new abt adding cashew roasted in ghee,, good..:-))

  3. except for the addition of cashew nuts, everything else is exactly how amma makes it :)

  4. Hi Shn

    Sorry, the last comment was about raisin pickle. Added more vinegar to it and it turned out really good. I was wondering if you could make chicken the same way as your fish molee bcoz your fish molee is simply lip smacking.
    Will try out your chicken stew soon !!!
    Have u heard of "Orappam" made out of coconut milk & rice flour ?

  5. You have said the truth..the one and only truth...there is no better breakfast in the world that palappam and chicken stew!!:-D

    and esp for me its special because as a kid I remember the palappam and stew on christmas morning tasted extra special...probably coz we were quite hungry after walking home from church..

    yesterday I had given a party to few german colleagues and even took them to a indian restuarant run by malayalees..i was hoping for some appam and infact created necessary hype among colleagues too..pakshe all they had was naan and wheat based breads.:-(

    lipsmacking as and the recipe..

  6. You are so right, Food and Yoga are two things that make people want to talk. Yoga I know very little but food is something I can talk about. As for you Shn, you are the perfect food ambassador!

  7. I totally agree with you.
    When ever i invite people over for diiner, they all are exccited as they know if it is going to be a indian dinner, it is going to be a feast of pleasure.
    Yeah just like nags said, istew is same as my mom makes them except for nuts, i guess it was really expensive the nuts for her.

  8. I dont make chicken but that does look neat!

  9. I have been following your blog for a long time and have successfully recreated many of your recipes. Thank you!

    Appam-stew is a fool-proof combination for me when I entertain 2-3 guests. I don't usually attempt it for a large crowd mainly due to the time needed to prepare them. Do you know if appams will taste good if made in advance? If so, what is the best method to reheat them? It would be very helpful to get some tips from an expert like you.

  10. Absolutely! Food is such an integral part of culture. I learn so much about other countries through food blogs.

  11. Wow ..Mish stew looks so rich and creamy ...

  12. kandittu kothiyaaavunnu.....Gud wk Mish!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. This is so interesting, whenever we think of a stew in these parts it is always red or brown in colour :)

  14. Ann, glad to know that you took it beyond your dining room :) your kid's school day event sounds like lot of fun.....yeah, people tend to be more warm and friendly when food is around....nice that you could find a group sharing the same passion

    Ras,occasional bite on the cashew nuts soaked in flavored coconut milk give a pleasant surprise...try it:)

    Nags.can imagine how much u miss ur amma's food!

    Divya, thanks :)

    Maya, glad to know that the raisin pickle turned out good. yes, i dont see any trouble in cooking chicken with the fish molee recipe...but you wil have to adjust the spices to suit the meat. Orappam recipe in Sarah's blog itself..check it out...i havent tasted or tried!

    Mathew, thanks pal :) i think atleast those restaurants run by malayaless should make an attempt to show the world that indian food is more than naan and paneer masala.....and i know for sure that this particular combo is sure to win any westerner's palate.yeah it's hard to imagine X'mas mornings without appam and stew...even though I am the laziest, i try to make this breakfast for all x'mas!

    Indo, hahahha...thanks a lot :) yoga has been in my list for a long time...

    Happycook,I like to cook for people who show interest in indian cuisine....some are still intimidated by the use of spices ! adding nuts is optional but its tasty too :)

    Anu, you can try the potato stew i have linked towards the end of the is also very tasty...

    Ammu, i also resort to entertain with appam only if it is a small group. and I usually start making it 1-2 hours prior to their arrival, so it wd be still warm..i have tried reheating leftovers the next day by sprinkling some water and reheating in microwave -2-3 at a time till it is soft...u can use any steamer too....but havent tried reheating a full batch at one go.

    Susan, me too....i strongly feel it's a window to learning a culture....

    Veena, thank you :)

    Zareen, vegum poyi undakkikko :)

    Cynthia, yeah...i had the same feeling when i came here first...the stew i got from restaurants were all brown in colour compared to the ones I was used it was a surprise for me :)

  15. Hmmm..another yummy recipe...i learnt similar kind of recipe from my mother in for serving non veg for breakfast was kind of new till i got married...u see my roots are from palakkad,though was hardly there and my inlaws have strong roots in Kottayam and so their food shows all the influences....yes i agree with u on serving keralalite dishes....


  16. when shall i come over?:)
    appam and stew is a win-over combination, and it really crosses all cultural barriers.

  17. Hi Mishmash,

    Tried the chichen stew. We had it with appam yesterday. Turned out yum.

    I have noticed that i am unable to print out the recipe anymore. Has anything changed on your site. Just wondering.

  18. Awesome blog mishmash .n that curry luks so yummy..:)..u said really speaks for your culture.I always feel so proud to present our authentic recipes infront f ma friends..:)

  19. I completely agree. I tend to cook a little bit of both the cultures I represent and some of my husband's side as well when we have folks over.

    I will make palappam tomorrow with stew... the vegetarian version though. And I bought palappam mix... so I'm all set I think. :-) Thanks for reminding me through this post!!

  20. Very aptly said..that is my only motive for giving cooking classes, coz there are so many myths that surround our foods. I would love to be a guest in your house

  21. We made this chicken stew at home for Easter and it came out very well..

    Thank you for the recipe..

  22. On my trip to Kerala last year I had this chicken stew on an Air India flight to Mumbai & fell in love with it. I just loved the creamy colour & texture though I felt it could have been spicier. I've been on a look out for a recipe to replicate "that stew". And voila, when I saw the picture here I knew this would be the one.
    Guess what - it wasn't... It was even better. My Malayali hubby & I were even fighting to lick the bowl clean after the curry got over :)

    Thank you a million times over. This is going to feature very often in my menu.

    & before I forget, your Fish Molee is a big hit too.

    Love - Sai Koshy

  23. excellent stew but too much spicy..i think its better to reduce the number of green chillies

  24. Hi,

    Just thought to thank you for the excellent receipe. I prepared this for a party paired with Appam; everyone liked the stew & appam & passed a comment "Seems like we are having Appam & Stew in a Christian marriage function; excellent work". I was so happy to hear that. Next week, as a Christmas treat, I am going to prepare this again with full confidence. Once again, thank you so much for such wonderful receipe.

  25. Best Stew I have ever made! This is unique and I loved it. I was trying to recreate my mother's stew and finally am very close to being successful. Thanks for that.

    The extra part I did was to reduce the garam masala and to put 4 cloves,1 cinnamon and 1 star anise.

    I cant help blogroll you. :)

  26. Hi Mish,

    I made chicken stew last sunday and it turned out really well....Thanks a ton for this wonderful recipe.....

  27. I love this stew. I have had it in restaurants and now I can make it at home. Breakfast, this is a meal I'll have thrice a day.

  28. I've been looking for chicken stew recipes and almost all recipes fall short. This one I followed to the T and came out exactly as I remember chicken stew from my mom to be. Made it for Christmas this year and everyone simply loved it. There was none left and I had made stew with 2 chicken. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.


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