Mangalore Chicken

This feast, known as Kori Gassi in the Tulu speaking Bunt community of Mangalore, on the west coast of India, is a wonderfully pungent chicken gravy dish.  This is a fabulous umami bomb from the Land of Spices… India.

Since this is a tropical land, coconut is a big part of the flavor, along with a red chili called Byadagi, or another more distant cousin called the Kashmiri pepper, renowned for it’s flavor as opposed to simply being hot. They both impart a lovely aroma and a very deep red color… we get both on Amazon.  But most whole red chilies will work for this dish. We also add garlic, ginger, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek, cloves, cinnamon bark, green cardamom, freshly ground turmeric, tamarind paste and star anise.  

This is one of Rebekah’s go-to recipes, and at the end of the cooking process she quickly pan fries the curry leaves, whole peppers and mustard seeds in very hot coconut oils.  The resulting blackened leaves, popped seeds and chilies are also huge flavor component in this dish.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, lightly salted (we use Mary’s brand or Smart brand, air chilled and free range) or fish (those with a dense mild white flesh, like sea bass, cod, red snapper or walleye)
2 inches ginger, grated (about 2 tablespoons)
6 large garlic cloves, crushed
3 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee (2 tablespoons to fry the onions and tomatoes and 1 1/2 tablespoons to fry the curry leaves, chilies and black mustard seeds)
2 medium onions, chopped fine
2 large tomatoes, or 6 to 8 small ones, chopped fine (tomatoes with meaty firm texture work best)
1 cup rich chicken bone broth (we further boil down 3 cups bone broth made from the bones of a roasted chicken or purchased rotisserie chicken)
2 cups coconut cream (much better than coconut “milk”, which is just watered down cream)
2 tablespoons tamarind, concentrated paste
1 tablespoon Mirin or 1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup grated coconut
1 teaspoon turmeric, (we grind the dried roots, it’s much more potent and a deep orange color)
1/2 teaspoons salt, sprinkled onto the chicken (or fish)

Ingredients to fry in oil at high heat

20 curry leaves (a crucial flavor component)
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
10-15 dried Kashmiri chilies, depending on how spicy you like it (you can use dried chilies from Thailand, like Bird’s Eye, or de Arbol chilies from Mexico, but Kashmiri has a wonderful unique Indian flavor)

Mangalore Spices

2 teaspoons cumin seed, toasted and ground
2 teaspoons coriander, toasted and ground
2 teaspoons fenugreek seed, toasted and ground
2 inches cinnamon bark, toasted and ground (or 1 tablespoon already ground)
6 green cardamom pods, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon black pepper corns, toasted and ground
10 cloves, toasted and ground
1 to 2 star anise, depending on size, toasted and ground
1 teaspoons salt

Prep Work

Combine all the whole Mangalore spices in a 10 inch frying or saute pan and heat on low, stirring often, for 4 to 5 minutes, until just slightly toasty and very aromatic. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and grind into a powder using a spice grinder.

Simmer 3 cups chicken broth until reduced to 1 cup. Allow to cool.

Using a mortar and pestle, (or a small food processor), combine the crushed garlic and shredded ginger and blend them together well to form a paste, you may need a tablespoon of water to help blend. Set aside.

Cooking

In a 12 to 14 inch cast iron frying pan or a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee until just smoking and fry the onions and tomatoes until they are opaque and caramelized, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the garlic-ginger paste and fry until aromatic, about 1 minute.

Add the chicken, all the ground spices, along with the turmeric, and fry until the meat is well coated and browned (very important), about 10 minutes.

Add the rich chicken broth to deglaze the pan, it should lift much of the burned bits on the bottom. Now add the coconut cream, tamarind, Mirin or sugar, grated coconut and simmer, covered, about 10 minutes.

In a 10 inch fry pan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of coconut oil or ghee until smoking. Add the mustard seeds, which will pop and sizzle, and then the chilies and curry leaves. The leaves and chili peppers will blacken quickly, about 1 1/ 2 minutes.

Pour this mixture into the chicken, stir well, turn off the heat, cover and allow to marry.

Serve hot on fragrant jasmine rice.