Mallika a content writer and a foodie who loves her native Indian cuisine. She enjoys exploring the cuisine and sharing it with others.
Indian cuisine is the home to numerous authentic spicy and hot non-vegetarian dishes and some are renowned chicken dishes in the subcontinent and outside. The alluring fiery red colour in the nonvegetarian dishes results from different spice combinations with red chillies that is one of the natural colouring agents of the cuisine. A spicy nonvegetarian curry or gravy should have that fiery red appealing look that makes the dish, mouth-watering for spice lovers.
This article presents information(not elaborate recipes) about 10 authentic regional chicken curries of India that are fiery red in appearance and spicy hot in taste.
Note: The definition of curry in the Indian context is different from the western definition and idea which has the usage of typical "curry powder". In Indian cuisine that curry powder is not used in the recipes. Different curries have different spice combinations and vary in the preparation and cooking technique.
Let's see the fiery red hotty dishes which made their way into the list(the list is made from geographical south of India to north)...
1. Kundapura/Kundapur Koli Saaru
Regional cuisine: Kundapur; Karnataka cuisine
Best paired with: Ragi mudde, steamed rice, ghee rice etc.
Kundapur, known as the land of jasmine is a coastal town in the Udupi district of Karnataka state. Koli saaru means chicken curry which has a thinner consistency or thin gravy. Kundapura masala powder is used in the recipe from which the red colour and spicy taste are imparted to the curry. Unmarinated chicken is cooked in coconut oil with onions, curry leaves, tomatoes along with masala powder. Some recipes use kokum/garcinia indica extract or pulp for a bit of tangy flavour.
Kundapura masala powder ingredients: Byadgi dry red chillis, coriander seeds, cumin, fenugreek seeds, black pepper, desiccated coconut, cinnamon and unpeeled garlic pods(optional).
- The ingredients are dry roasted and powdered in a blender.
A quick spicy dish for sudden guests!
2. Chicken Shagoti
Regional cuisine: Goan
Best paired with: Piping hot rice, tandalachi bhakri, Goan vodde/odde, Goan undo/pav, Goan red rice etc.
Popularly known as Xacuti or Chacuti(Portuguese word), this Goan dish is a villagers dish. The Portuguese Chacuti is brownish but Goan Shagoti is reddish due to the use of local fiery dry red chillies(also known as gavti chilly) with white poppy seeds and fresh coconut. The coconut is roasted differently. The coconut kernel is mildly roasted directly on the stove and cooled. It is grated and lightly toasted and used in the masala paste. In some recipes, chicken is marinated with a green paste called harvo masala consisting of ginger, garlic, green chillies, fresh coriander, black pepper, lemon juice and salt. The chicken is cooked in coconut oil, onions and the native masala paste.
Masala Paste ingredients: 1 tablespoon coconut oil for roasting the spices, dry gavti red chillis, coriander, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, star anise, garlic pods, onions and coconut.
- Roast all the ingredients in coconut oil and after cooling the spices, blend into a fine paste by adding little water.
A peppy dish that brings a Goan beach party into your homes!
3. Malvani Chicken
Regional Cuisine: Malvani cuisine(south Konkan, Goan and Maharashtrian regions)
Best paired with: Malvani vade, rice, neer dosa etc.
Originated from Malvan town in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra state, Malvani cuisine is predominantly a non-vegetarian cuisine.
In the authentic recipe, country chicken is used for the curry and no lemons, curd and tomatoes are used. The chicken may or may not be marinated. The other two significant ingredients which make this dish unique are a spice mix known as Malvani masala powder and onion+coconut paste(onions and freshly grated coconut are sauteed in oil and blended into a fine paste). Malvani masala powder is a combination of 16 spices that are dry roasted and coarsely powdered. This is a spicy curry with a fiery hue and peppy taste.
Malvani masala powder ingredients: Byadgi dry red chillis, coriander, cumin, shah jeera, black pepper, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cloves, cassia buds/nagkesar, star anise, lichen/stone flower, cinnamon, black cardamom, nutmeg, mace, asafoetida and turmeric powder(optional).
Note: 1. In the Konkani version of powder, teppal/triphal, mugwort/maipatri are used. Teppal is known as the Konkani spice.
2.In the Maharashtrian version of powder, poppy seeds and white sesame seeds are used.
A new dish that can be introduced to your family!
4. Kolhapuri Chicken
Regional cuisine: Kolhapur; Maharashtrian cuisine
Best paired with: Rice, roti, bhakri/jowar roti
Kolhapuri chicken is one of the iconic chicken curries of Indian cuisine and known for its beautiful fiery red colour. It is originated in the Kolhapur region in Maharashtra state. The famous Kolhapuri masala powder is the most important ingredient in the recipe. It is a heavy spice mix consisting of 25 to 30 different spices including the native bright red hot lavangi dry chillies of the region. Chicken is lightly marinated with salt, turmeric powder and ginger-garlic paste and cooked in oil, onions, tomato puree(optional) along with the masala powder and garnished with fresh coriander leaves.
The queen of all Indian chicken curries(in my view)!
5. Rayalaseema NatuKodi Pulusu
Cuisine: Rayalaseema; Andhra cuisine
Best paired with: Ragi sangati, steamed rice, Jowar roti, alasanda vada/blackeyed beans vada
It is a very popular dish from the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh state. The Rayalaseema cuisine is a very spicy cuisine known for the usage of red hot chilli powder known as seema karam. Rayalaseema natukodi pulusu is a country chicken curry that can have thick or thin gravy. When the curry has thin or runny gravy, it is called pulusu and thick gravy, called koora or curry. The country chicken is lightly burnt in the fire and cut into pieces. Chicken is usually not marinated. The authentic recipe does not include curd, lemon and tomatoes in the curry and the usage of spices are minimum but red chilli powder is used generously. The country chicken is cooked in groundnut oil, onions, ginger-garlic paste along with the spices and garnished with fresh coriander leaves.
Spices used: Red chilly powder, turmeric powder, roasted coriander powder, dry coconut powder, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper and poppy seeds.
An authentic country dish with country flavours!
6. Soaji Chicken
Cuisine: Soaji cuisine of Nagpur; Maharashtrian cuisine
Best paired with: Steamed rice, roti, bhakri
Soaji cuisine is a divergent cuisine of Halba Koshtis, a handloom weavers community of Nagpur town in Maharashtra state. One of the pride cuisines of India, this cuisine is famous for the eyes and nose watering spicy non-vegetarian dishes. It is definitely for elite spice lovers. Soaji chicken curry adds to that pride list and is prepared with Soaji masalas which are fiercely guarded secret for decades by the community. Till now, no one outside the community knows the exact ingredients and the procedure of the masala powders and pastes. The chicken is cooked with two types of masalas, one is a wet paste known as Balto and the other is Soaji masala powder. Marination of chicken is not compulsory and lemons and tomatoes are not used in the recipe.
Balto: Onions, ginger, garlic and cumin seeds are roasted in linseed oil and blended into a fine paste.
Soaji masala powder ingredients: Bhiwapur dry red chillis, coriander seeds, sorghum or jowar flour, bay leaf, black cardamom, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, shahi jeera, nutmeg, star anise, stone flower, mace, fennel seeds, green cardamom, dry coconut and poppy seeds.
- These are the imprecise ingredients of the masala powder.
A challenging dish for spice lovers to test their spice tasting and withstanding!
7. Murgir Lal Jhol
Best paired with: piping hot rice
Murgir lal jhol means chicken red curry and it is a Sunday special dish as in Bengali cuisine, fish is consumed daily and chicken and mutton are cooked on Sundays. Jhol means thin or soupy gravy because very few spices are used and thick gravy doesn't form in the curry. Chicken is marinated with dry red chilly paste or powder, ginger garlic paste, salt and lemon juice and cooked along with potatoes in mustard oil. Spices like bay leaf, Bengali garam masala and seasoning ingredients- salt, sugar and ghee are used. The red colour in the curry is due to the breaking of emulsion when water is added to the curry for thin gravy and due to the absence or less quantity of masala powders like coriander powder, cumin powder etc. While simmering the curry, the emulsion breaks and the oil rises to the top bringing the fiery red colour due to red chillies.
Bengali garam masala: Coarsely crushed cloves, green cardamom and cinnamon.
A perfect dish for a Sunday brunch!
8. Raja Mircha chicken or Bhut Jolokia chicken
Cuisine: Nagaland; North Eastern
Best paired with: steamed rice
Even though this dish is prepared with very few ingredients(according to the authentic recipe), it has a unique taste and the world-famous ghost pepper aka Bhut jolokia chilly or raja mircha. The other two native spices-dry bamboo shoot and Sichuan peppercorns/mejenga seeds are used in the recipe. The local chicken is cooked with oil, onions, bhut jolokia paste or raja mircha/naga chutney, roasted and crushed dry bamboo shoot and Sichuan peppercorns. Dry bamboo shoots are used as a spice in North Eastern cuisine.
Bhut jolokia paste: A paste of Bhut jolokia chillies, ginger, garlic and vinegar.
Naga chutney: A paste of Bhut jolokia chillies, tomato, garlic and salt.
A daredevil dish with tribal flavours!
9. Spicy Achari Chicken
Cuisine: Punjabi; North Indian
Best paired with: Jeera/cumin rice, steamed basmati rice, roti, parathas etc.
The word "achar" means pickle. This dish has pickle flavours as the spices, used in pickles are present in this chicken curry. Chicken can be boneless or with bone and cooked in mustard oil, achari masala powder or whole spices, onions, whisked yoghurt, tomato puree and garnished with lime juice or lime pickle.
Achari masala powder ingredients: whole Panch poron, Kashmiri dry red chillies, turmeric powder, Kasuri methi and amchur powder(optional)
- Lightly roast all the ingredients in a teaspoon of mustard oil and coarsely powder in a blender.
Panch poron: Black mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin, fennel seeds and nigella/onion seeds
A bonus dish for nonvegetarian lovers with pickle flavours!
10. Tariwala Chicken
Best paired with: Jeera/cumin rice, phulka and tandoori roti
Tariwala chicken is a Punjabi household dish and Tari means gravy. The chicken is marinated with red chilli powder, curd or lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste and salt. It is cooked in ghee, whole spices, onions, Kasuri methi, tomatoes, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala and garnished with fresh coriander leaves.
Whole spices: Cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, cloves, cumin and bay leaf.
A lip-smacking desi(local) Punjabi dish for a winter dinner!
Note: The ingredients like salt and water are not mentioned in each curry as they are used in general in the recipe.
Do try these fiery red curries and enjoy a spicy meal.
© 2021 Mallika Lotus
Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on May 06, 2021:
Great article Mallika packed with useful information. I had heard about the Malwani and Kolhapuri chicken but the other curries are quite new to me.Thanks for sharing.
Mallika Lotus (author) from Hyderabad, India on May 06, 2021:
Thank you all for your lovely feedback. I am happy to see that you all liked this article. This made my day unique!
Viet Doan from Big Island, Hawaii on May 06, 2021:
I love Indian curries and your article sent my taste buds into orbit, thanks a lot Mallika! It's amazing that each curry dish uses at least 10-20 different spices. And wonderful coconut oil to tie everything together!
Rozlin from UAE on May 06, 2021:
What a wonderful compilation of different regional Indian chicken curry! I like it. Thanks for sharing.
kiwi berry on May 06, 2021:
It seems very yummy, good job Mallika.
Iqra from East County on May 06, 2021:
All type of chicken curries sounds delicious. Thanks Mallika for sharing this delicious food.