Nothing can come close to my late grandmother’s kori gassi (chicken gravy, literally translated). It was even better when made in a clay pot (bisalé) on a wood fire ‘stove’ which gave it an earthy smokey flavour. The flavours would intensify the next day and the gassi would then be had with neer dosae (paper thin rice crepes) or semedadye (string hoppers/rice noodle cakes).
Grandmothers and mothers have years of experience behind them cooking these dishes. Even today mother can’t give me the exact measurements for her curries. She says you need to have a free hand and a few trial and errors to get it right yourself. Which turned out to be quite the case. However, after many practices over the past year, I’ve come close to being pleased with this kori gassi. I serve it with kori rotti (crispy rice wafers?). This rotti is available in all Mangalore stores. Let the rotti soak up the curry and enjoy!
Chicken on the bone cut into pieces – 1 kilo
Onion – 1 large sliced, 1 medium finely chopped for garnish
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coconut milk – 1 cup (optional)
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
For the ground masala:
Coconut – 1 cup freshly grated
Kashmiri/byadagi chillies – 4 large or 6 medium (I deseeded 2 of them so it’s not too hot)
Dried gundu chillies (small round ones) – 3 (these are for heat)
Cumin seeds – 1.5 tsp
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp
Peppercorns – 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp or a pinch (use sparingly else the curry will turn bitter)
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Garlic – 4 medium cloves
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Tamarind – pulp from a tbsp full of it or 1 tsp if you’re using readymade paste (you can alter this according to taste)
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Water – just enough to get the blender running to make the paste
Wash chicken pieces and keep aside.
Dry roast chillies first on a hot nonstick pan and keep aside.
Now dry roast the rest together, except the coconut, tamarind, ginger and garlic.
After this, dry roast the coconut till it’s toasted and has a light brown colour. It does turn dry but that’s alright.
Once they all cool down, put them in a blender along with the ginger, garlic, turmeric and tamarind.
Add a splash of water and blitz away till you get a relatively smooth paste. Keep aside.
Heat ghee in a kadai or a cooker and saute the onion slices in it till they turn soft.
Add the ground masala and a cup of water. Let this come to a rolling boil.
Now add the chicken.
Add another cup of water, salt and half the coconut milk (if you’re using it, otherwise omit).
Let this come to a bubble, lower the heat and cook for 20-25 mins or till chicken is tender.
Add the remaining coconut milk and check for taste. Adjust salt accordingly.
Let it simmer for a min or two and take it off the heat. Cover with a lid and let the curry rest.
Heat some more ghee in a pan and fry the chopped onion in it till brown, throw in a sprig of curry leaves and let them splutter. Then, garnish the chicken with it.
Serve with rice, dosae or like I do, with kori rotti.