Pepper Chicken Masala / Kozhi Milagu Varuval Chettinad Style

Pepper Chicken Masala / Kozhi Milagu Varuval Chettinad Style

This used to be D’s #1 and most requested dish at home. But now there’s stiff competition from this guy, but trust me – he still cannot decide between the two. Well, they are pretty much tied as far as I can tell, and whichever happens to be on the menu for dinner gets the #1 spot that day :p

I’ve tried a few versions of this recipe in the past and realize most of them are the same. What seems to really (and I mean REALLY) matter is that you are in no hurry. Before you decide this is not a good choice for weeknights, I got to tell you that it’s not a lot of work – as soon as you’re done chopping the onions and tomatoes really fine  (yes, its important) you’re done with all the hard work. The cooking part is what takes time, you need a good 45-50 minutes for the masala/ gravy to get to the final stage: it turns into a rich and dark brown colored thick masala coating the chicken pieces and you got to baby sit it a little to not get charred masala in the end. Don’t be tempted to turn off the flame when it’s still got moisture and is curry-like in consistency – though it would still taste great, you’ll surely be missing on the ultimate flavor you get by waiting. So get started, pick up a book or browse while you wait on and enjoy the fruits of your patience with this lip-smacking chettinad favorite!

Source: Adapted from Solai’s Authentic Chettinad Pepper chicken

Serves: 4

Cooking Time: 10 minutes prep + 50 minutes cooking (optional marination time of about 30 minutes)


  1. Chicken – 1.65 lbs (approx. 0.5 kgs) (medium-cut pieces with bone-in preferred, but you can use boneless, drumsticks or any other kind available too)
  2. Onions – 2 large, chopped fine (almost minced)
  3. Tomatoes – 2 medium, chopped fine
  4. Green chilies – 2 or 3
  5. Ginger Garlic paste – 2 tbsp
  6. Red chili powder – 1/2 tbsp or to taste
  7. Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
  8. Cumin (jeera) powder –  1/4 tsp (optional)
  9. Garam masala – 1/4 tsp (optional)
  10. Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  11. Lemon juice – from 1/2 lime or to taste
  12. Salt to taste
  13. Pepper powder / crushed peppercorns – 1/2 tsp or to taste
  14. Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  15. Cinnamon sticks – 2
  16. Cloves – 3
  17. Dried bay leaves – 1
  18. Dry red chilies – 2, broken
  19. Oil – 2 tbsp
  20. Curry leaves – few (optional)
  21. Cilantro – few stems chopped for garnishing


  1. Marinate the chicken in some salt, turmeric and red chili powder for about 30 minutes. This step is optional and no one would be able to tell it’s any different if you do skip it, so go ahead and make it straight from the market or your freezer if you’re in a hurry.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy-bottom pan, add cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, red chilies, mustard and curry leaves. Allow mustard seeds to crackle.
  3. Add minced onions, along with some salt to help it cook faster and cook on med-high, stirring now and then, until onions and fully cooked and oil starts leaving the mixture. It takes about 12-15 minutes if you’re cooking on medium-high.
  4. Add turmeric powder and ginger-garlic paste and saute for about 3 minutes until combined.
  5. Add chopped tomatoes and green chilies. Cook with lid on for about 5 minutes until tomatoes and mushy and combined.
  6. Add dry spices (Coriander powder, red chili powder, cumin powder) and cook the mixture without the lid for another 10 minutes or until everything comes together into a good lump that does not stick to the pan.
  7. Add the chicken pieces, combine and cook with lid on for about 5-10 minutes until it lets out the water.
  8. Cook without the lid, for about 15-20 minutes until chicken is fully cooked and all the moisture has dried up.
  9. Add garam masala at this stage if you’re using it and stir every now and then to prevent the masala from burning on the bottom of the pan.
  10. The dish is done when oil starts leaving the mixture, the masala takes on a dark brownish color and has coated all the chicken pieces really well.
  11. Now add the crushed pepper and coriander leaves and combine well.
  12. Turn off the heat, garnish with lemon juice to taste and serve hot with rice.


You can adjust the amount of pepper needed to preference  The heat from pepper has a bigger kick that the red chili powder so I tend to add lesser than the original recipes all for. But if you prefer, you could reduce the amount of red chilies added and increase the pepper in the end to spice up the dish and be a true pepper chicken lover!

2 Responses to “Pepper Chicken Masala / Kozhi Milagu Varuval Chettinad Style”
  1. PoppyBhavan says:

    I made this today,yummmmmmmmm.

  2. PoppyBhavan says:

    Very very nice

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