Hailing from the Bunt community in Mangalore this recipe is an absolute keeper! The gravy has loads of depth and flavour. A rich fiery red curry cooked with chicken although can be made with prawns or even with vegetables. Mangalorean cooking is hugely synonymous with vegetarian and coastal flavours.
I ate a traditional version of this dish for the first time at a wedding 12 years ago. It was served with a rice based roti. Dipping pieces of the roti in this luscious curry was probably what keeps me hooked to continue cooking this dish, just so I can replicate those delicious flavours.
Kori Ghassi is a Mangalorean chicken curry made with roasted chillies, spices and creamy coconut milk. Traditionally byadgi chillies are used in the recipe a variety common to the region of Karnataka although I have swapped them for Kashmiri dried chillies as they are readily available. The colour and thickness of the curry is usually based on the variety of chilli used.
In this recipe I always fry the chillies with the spices until they go a dark red colour. This adds flavour and smokiness to the resultant ghassi. I have used a little more tamarind paste for the recipe than I normally would this is based on the strength of the tamarind so increase or decrease it accordingly.
Blend the garlic to a smooth paste with a splash of water in a blender. Add half the garlic paste along with turmeric powder and pinch of salt to the chicken. Mix well and set aside to marinate while you make the ghassi spice paste.
Heat a dry frying pan on a low flame and add the desiccated coconut stir a few times as it begins to roast and change colour to a light brown. Remove the coconut in a bowl and add the oil to the frying pan. Add the sliced onions and fry on a low heat for 8-10minutes they will begin to change colour and go dark brown.
Now add the chillies, peppercorn, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds. Fry all the spices in the pan for 9-10 minutes on a low heat stirring couple of times. They will release their aroma and flavour. Cool this spice mix and add to a blender along with the tamarind paste and coconut milk. Blend to a smooth fine paste. You won’t need any more water as the paste should be thick and a vibrant red colour.
To make the curry heat the oil in a heavy bottom large sauce pan on a medium flame. Add the curry leaves and the chopped onion. Fry the onions for 7-8 minutes stirring and making sure they get an even colour. Turn the heat to low and add the remaining garlic paste frying for 20-30seconds. Add a splash of water (2-3tbsps) if the garlic sticks to the pan.
Now turn the heat back to a medium and add the chicken. Fry for 6-7 minutes as the pieces begin to seal. Add the paste and stir well coating all the pieces in the paste and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add water and season to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer gently on a low heat with the lid on for 30minutes stirring half way through the cooking. To finish add the cinnamon and clove powder along with the lime juice. Serve warm with plain rice or soft dosas.