Pepper Chicken No. 3A. That was the item number on the menu at the little “Indian” restaurant across from the store I worked at in Brampton, Ontario about 18 years ago. I never much cared for the job or the town but loved the restaurants and I especially loved this dish. We didn’t live in the area long and soon moved back to Southwestern Ontario, but I would seek out Pepper Chicken at the few places that served Indian cuisine. Unfortunately, I never found it. That is, until I asked the owner of a small Indian food stand in a mall food court about it. She told me that what I was looking for was not something typically found in Indian restaurants. In fact, I was told that the dish I described is Tamil, from the Chettinad region of India. Keep in mind this was before one could just type “Pepper Chicken recipe” into google search and come up with 469,000 hits.
The traditional recipe uses a mix of up to 28 spices. I only use 15 but it’s still very delicious.
Kitchen Cook Time and Prep: This recipe makes enough for 4-6 back country servings and takes about 1 hour 30 minutes to prepare.
Tools: You will need a large Dutch oven or stock pot to cook with. In the back country you will need a stove and a pot to boil water. A spoon or spork would be helpful.
Back Country-What to Expect: There is a lot of chicken in this dish so it is best to pre-hydrate the meal a couple hours before cooking to allow the chicken to properly absorb enough water so as not to drain your cooking fuel. Enjoy with camp rice or naan bread.
Try this recipe out, let me know if you have any questions or comments below, and make sure you share this recipe with your friends that love spicy and exotic food and the back country.
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp each salt and pepper
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- ½ cup homemade chicken stock
- 3 - 5 curry leaves
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp of black mustard seeds
- ¼ tsp fennel seeds,
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ginger, minced, or ¼ tsp powdered ginger
- 1 cup of onions, sliced
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- ⅓ cup grated fresh coconut
- 1 tsp of cumin seeds
- 2 tsp of coriander seeds
- 1-2 dry red chillies
- 1 tsp of whole black pepper
- 3″ cinnamon stick
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1 cup carrots, chopped
- 1 cup cauliflower, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 apple, diced
- Add salt, turmeric powder, chicken stock and lemon juice to chicken and mix well. Marinate for a minimum 15 to 20 mins.
- To make the flavour bomb dry roast curry leaves, mustard, cumin and fennel seeds, peppercorns and cardamom in a cast iron pan over low heat. Once spices begin to turn golden, add coconut and roast for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat as soon as coconut starts to brown. In your food processor add garam masala, tomato paste, garlic and ginger to roasted spices and grind into a smooth paste. Add cold water as needed to allow mixing.
- In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat melt coconut oil. Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add flavour bomb and mix well. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add chicken including marinade, cover and cook for 25 minutes, or until chicken is very tender.
Allow to cool to room temperature. Place 1½ cup per serving of mixture on the fruit roll-up trays on your Excalibur. On the meat setting (155 - 165 degrees), dehydrate for 8 hours, or overnight. Once fully dry, break up, add ⅓ to ½ cup of camp rice/minute rice and seal into vacuum seal bags and store in freezer until ready to head into the back country.
To rehydrate I add 1½ cup of water a few hours before you intend to eat. Store in a strong resalable bag. I've been using resealable vacuum seal bags and they work perfectly. At meal time it only requires 3-5 minutes of simmer time before it's ready to eat.
Alternatively, bring 1 ¾ cups of water to a boil. Add the dehydrated contents and allow to come to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and allow rice to absorb the liquid. Serve and enjoy