Home Recipes Recipes from our travels: Malabar chicken from Chai Pani

Recipes from our travels: Malabar chicken from Chai Pani

by Jan Schroder
chicken malabar at chai pani asheville

The first time we tried to go to Chai Pani Asheville we didn’t get in. In 2022, 13 years after the original location in Decatur, Georgia opened, the Asheville location was named Outstanding Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation and the place was slammed.

We’ve since made it back a few times, most recently to its new, much larger location. We always order the Malabar chicken thali, which is a large plate filled with several small bowls of food. It’s like the Indian equivalent of the Japanese bento box.

Here’s the recipe if you feel inspired to try it yourself.

Malabar Chicken, Chai Pani

  • 2 pounds chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil + 1 tablespoon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 12-15 curry leaves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 small dried red chiles
  • 4 cups chopped red onion, about 2 large onions
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, leaves and/or stems
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  1. Pour 1/2 cup oil in a large sauce pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, and red chiles.
  2. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, then add the ginger and onions. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the onions to brown until they are dark and soft enough the smash with a spatula—about 25-30 minutes.
  3. Add the chili powder, coriander, turmeric, and cilantro—mix together.
  4. Raise the heat back to medium and add the tomatoes, salt, and lime juice. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have disintegrated and the oil separates out—15-20 minutes.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of water and 1 cup coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat.
  6. In a separate skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over high. Add the chicken to the skillet and brown on all sides, leaving the centers pink—2-4 minutes.
  7. Add the chicken to the curry and simmer 5-7 minutes until the chicken has cooked through. Serve over basmati rice.

Thanks to aspicyperspective.com for sharing the recipe.

– Jan Schroder, Editor-in-chief

Jan Schroder, Editor-in-chief

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