Pepper chicken roast (Kurumolagu chertha kozhi roast)

cooking chicken

The Suriana kitchen: Recipes and recollections from the Syrian Christians of Kerala, 240pp.
by Lathika George
Westland, Chennai, India, 2009
Cooking on page 132

The legend goes that Saint Thomas the Apostle landed in Cranganore, India in 52AD and established one of the oldest surviving Christian communities in the world, the Syrian Christians of Kerala.

The Suriana Kitchen

The author was introduced to the traditions and cuisines of her Syrian Christian ancestors at an early age. In addition to the recipes, George has created a travelogue and memoir and food diary.

The title drew me to the book. We lived in Syria for several years in the 1980s and one of our daughters, Libby, was born in Damascus.

When I took this to the cashier in the airport in Delhi, he led me back to the shelves saying ‘there is a much better cookbook on India’. I thanked him, and explained why this book was important to me and had to be mine instead. On the way back to the register, he very sweetly kept apologising for trying to convince me to buy a different book.

pepper roasted chicken

Pepper chicken roast (Kurumolagu chertha kozhi roast)

1/2 cup oil
8 onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic
8 red chillies, halved
6 whole chicken legs (legs and thighs), halved at the joint
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
2 (1-inch) cinnamon sticks

Serves 4 to 6

sliced onions frying onions peppering chicken drumsticks cooking

In a large skillet, fry the onions in the oil for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are lightly browned.

Add the whole garlic and continue frying for 2 more minutes, until the onions and garlic are dark brown.

Add the red chillies, sauté lightly, then add the chicken, salt, peppercorns, and cinnamon sticks. Mix well and cook covered over low heat for 20 minutes, lifting the lid every 5 minutes to stir and toss, until the chicken pieces are tender and coated with the browned onion and pepper mix.

How it played out
No need to change a thing, except I did cut the oil back to 1/3 of a cup. And I used all drumsticks, although the combo of legs and thighs would be great.

An excellent and wonderfully peppery and oniony chicken dish that is so easy to make.

I’ll now pass the book on to Libby, who really deserves to own it.

Oh, and I’ve noticed that it is sold in the USA under the slightly different title of The Kerala kitchen: recipes and recollections from the Syrian Christians of South India. 

Whatever title is on the cover, it is a very worthy cookbook and gets 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon’s website.

A moment on my soapbox
Syria was one of the nicest places we lived when Poor John was in Australia’s diplomatic corps, with wonderful people, fascinating monuments and tourist destinations, and excellent food. Sadly the conflict, which has been going for four years, has destroyed this country and the lives of its people.

Yesterday, Australia’s national media provider, the ABC, published a heartbreaking article on the long-term consequences of the strife. I wonder if our Libby will ever be able to revisit the land of her birth.

If you have some spare money, please consider contributing something to the Oxfam Syrian Appeal.


About leggypeggy

Intrepid overland traveller, keen photographer, avid cook—known to jump out of airplanes and do other silly things. Do not act my age.
This entry was posted in Light meal, Main dish, Poultry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Pepper chicken roast (Kurumolagu chertha kozhi roast)

  1. unkalumni says:

    Can you ship some of that to the UNK Alumni House? Looks delicious!

  2. elmotoo says:

    This looks so unbelievably delicious! I might have to get the cookbook, too. I adore Syrian food. Thank you, Peggy!

  3. Sharon says:

    I loved reading about your time in Syria as much as reading the recipe and how it played out!

  4. skippersy says:


    I had an already finished 1/2 BBQ chicken in the freezer (4 days old), so decided to use this chicken and “Wing It.” After defrosting and cut the chicken into pieces I added it to the already browning onions and garlic, along with the other spices. Plus added a little water as well. It was a very nice, quick meal and with a Onion/Pepper/Cinnamon taste.

    Sy S.

  5. It just kills me, how even now so much of the world is looking the other way while Syria burns. Where is our decency? (I know, a bit deep for a comment, but I can’t help it…)

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