Celine’s chicken curry (article that first appeared on iDiva.com)

Celine’s chicken curry (article that first appeared on iDiva.com)

My grandmother Celine D’Souza was quite a feisty woman. She raised eight children, along with grandfather who was with the Indian navy (Lt Cdr Mark D’Souza, VSM, Indian Navy), and was practically a single mother when my grandfather was serving the country. A disciplinarian matching my grandfather’s standards, she single-handedly managed housework, paddy fields, cooked for her children, looked after cattle and poultry, took care of her aging mother-in-law and was a pillar of strength for her husband.

 came to know her a little bit more after she passed away – about her resilience, the love she showered on all her children and us grandchildren, the delicious food she cooked and the values she stood for.

The chicken curry I am writing about, reminds me of the several times my grandmother and I have sat across the dining table in my mother’s home in Mulki, Mangalore, and shared a laugh over sumptuous food she prepared, and the times she advised me about life and love.

Celine D’Souza died at a ripe old age of 81, and this recipe is named after her because she conjured it up herself and has been passed to me by her daughter and my mother.


1 kilo chicken (with bones cut into medium sized pieces)
1-2 medium sized potatoes
2 tbsp ghee 
½  a medium sized onion (finely cut) or 1 small onion
250 ml water

For the paste
8-10 madras chillies (red)
1 ½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp whole pepper corns
3 medium sized onions (coarsely cut)
10 gms tamarind
Grind all the above to a fine paste by adding water to the blender at regular intervals.


  1. Add ghee to a deep vessel. Add the medium-sized onion, which is finely chopped, and fry till golden brown.
  2. Add the ground paste without water, and fry it for about seven minutes on a low flame.
  3. Add water to make the gravy moderately thin.
  4. Add chicken to this with salt to taste
  5. When the chicken is nearly cooked, add potatoes if the gravy is too spicy to taste. The potatoes reduce the spiciness.
  6. Allow the gravy to boil till chicken and potatoes are fully cooked.
  7. Serve with dosas, idlis or neer dosas. Red boiled rice is also a good accompaniment to this fiery curry.

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