Growing up at the foothills of the Blue Mountains/Nilgiris in South India,I was so enchanted by the Badagas/tribals of the Blue Mountains.Their gentle nature,their cultural pride,their soulful dance for any occasion,their hospitality is all that comes to my mind when I decided to share a recipe from the Badaga kitchen which was taught to me by a dear Badaga Aunt.My hope is each one of you who tastes this is taken back to the endless Blue mountain ranges,in whose robes I found great solace in my childhood and every breath of that fresh Nilgiri air was life giving in itself.Enjoy,the essence of the Badaga culture as the aroma of this “kurma” spreads through your kitchen.

Nilgiris Chicken Kurma
Nilgiris Chicken Kurma

Chicken- 2 pounds
Onions-1 big(finely sliced)
Cilantro/Coriander leaves-1 bunch
Mint leaves- 1 cup
Green chillies-7-8
Tomatoes-2 (finely chopped)
Oil- 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Cumin seeds/Jeera- 2 tsp
Ginger garlic paste- 2tsp
Garam masala powder- 1tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder- 2tsp
Coconut milk- 1cup
Poppy seeds/Khus-Khus- 3 tsp
Salt- to taste

1.Clean & cut Chicken pieces to desired size.Keep aside.
2.Wash & grind Cilantro/Coriander leaves,Mint leaves & green chillies to a fine paste with little water.Keep aside.
2.Heat oil in a kadai,then add some mustard seeds when they splutter add Cumin seeds/Jeera.Then add the finely sliced Onions to it & saute for a few minutes till they turn light brown.Now add the poppy seeds/khus-khus to the mix & stir for a few minutes.Add the ginger garlic paste& saute for a few minutes.
3 .Then add the finely cut tomaotoes & saute them for a few minutes after adding Turmeric powder,close the lid & wait for a few minutes till tomatoes turn soft.
4.Now add the chicken pieces,along with the garam masala & coriander powder,stir them all together & keep lid closed to cook chicken in its own water that is liberated while cooking.Now add the cilantro/mint/green chilli paste to the above & stir well.Allow the chicken to cook in this paste .
5.Now add the coconut milk to the cooked chicken masala & stir it for a few minutes.Switch off & garnish with finely cut Cilantro/coriander leaves.
6.Serve hot with Ghee rice,rotis,Chappatis,idlis etc.

1.The Badagas have an authentic “Badaga Koi Uduka Masu Hudi” (which has chillies, corianderseeds,cumin & pepper seeds finely ground as a powder) similar to our Mangalore masala powder which each Badaga has at home:),thus making cooking easy…for those of us who do not have this ready mix powder its better to follow the recipe above,the closest you can get to taste the Badaga food:)
2..”Kurma” is a cream based sauce or curry which supposedly orginated in Mughal kitchen & travelled to the high ranges of Tamil Nadu.

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