1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 sprigs of curry leaves (15-20 leaves)
2 large onions, thinly sliced (preferably red onions)
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon pure red chili powder
3/4 cup grated coconut (frozen or fresh)
1 tablespoon oil
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
3 cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1.5 lbs chicken, chopped into small pieces (about 1/2 inch pieces, preferably bone in, thighs)
1 serrano chile, slit lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 cups water
2 teaspoons salt + salt to taste
Heat oil in a large pot. Add fennel seeds, black peppercorns and curry leaves. Let them splutter for about 30 seconds then add the onions and saute until lightly browned. (About 7-10 minutes.) Add tomatoes and saute for another 5 minutes, until softened. Stir in coriander, turmeric and chili powders and stir well to combine. Last, stir in the grated coconut and saute for 3-5 minutes. Switch off heat, remove the onion-tomato mixture and put in a bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, add another tablespoon of oil to the same pot. When hot add the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, star anise, cloves, cardamom pods and fennel seeds. When aromatic add the chicken pieces, serrano chile, turmeric powder and salt: stir to combine. Pour over this enough water to cover the chicken (about 4 cups). Bring to a boil then cover the pot, turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
Put cooled onion-tomato mixture into a blender and blend with a little water until smooth. Pour into the chicken mixture and stir to combine. At this point you may need to add a little water to bring salna to desired consistency. (Salna is typically made up of mostly gravy, minimal chicken - not too thick but not watery.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Add salt to taste.
Serve with: parotta, idli/dosa, chapati, biryani/rice...