Aug 7, 2017

Murgh Xacuti (Goan Spiced Chicken)

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Pronounced 'sha-koo-tee,' this spicy chicken recipe comes from the tropical shores of Goa. A truly classic dish that can be found in almost all restaurants dotting the beaches, towns, and villages. Featuring a savory blend of rich coconut milk, hot red chilis, and aromatic spices- it's best served with steamed rice and mango chutney. 

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This recipe is adapted from the book Recipes from an Indian Kitchen by Parragon Books Ltd. I bought this book in Delhi's IGIA duty-free shopping area on a bargain table for about $6. I've since seen it in Target stores in Florida as well as on Amazon. It's a great cookbook for the price with 100 recipes from all across India. Most of the recipes seem to be restaurant versions of regional dishes rather than from an Indian's home kitchen. It is very well written, easy enough for beginners, and all recipes are accompanied by beautiful photographs.  

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I have made a few changes my adaption of this recipe. The original instructions called for 600g of boneless and skinless chicken pieces. I've upped the quantity of chicken to 1 kg/2.2lbs and use bone-in chicken as it's more authentic. Since I increased the quantity of chicken I increased the amount of spices accordingly. The amounts of coconut milk and water were generous to begin with so I left them the same. The recipe called for whole dried red chilis to be ground but of course I changed them to Kashmiri mirch as per my Kashmiri clan's preferences. The recipe also called for the whole spices to be dry roasted before grinding. I didn't do that. I don't think the dry roasting is a necessary step when then spices are going to be fried and then simmered with the chicken anyway. It is my understanding that dry roasting the spices is only necessary in humid climates to facilitate grinding. (You can read my diatribe on why I don't dry roasting spices here.) I think I added a bit of ginger paste to the base too. That's because ginger is good for you, I love it's lemony flavor,  and most other Xacuti recipes I've perused online include it too. Anyway, this is a really easy and really delicious South Indian style chicken curry. If you're new to making curries or a seasoned pro - I'm sure you'll enjoy this recipe as much as my family does!

Ingredients:
1kg/2lbs skinless chicken pieces
3 TBS cooking oil of choice or ghee
1/2 C onion, finely diced
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrakh paste
400ml (1 can) or 14 oz coconut milk or coconut cream
1 C water
2 tsp tamarind paste
Grind to powder for masala:
1 TBS coriander seeds/dhania
1 TBS white poppy seeds/khus khus or ground cashews
1 TBS Kashmiri mirch (or 1&1/2 tsp cayenne plus 1&1/2 tsp paprika powder)
2 tsp fennel seeds/saunf
2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1 tsp turmeric/hali
5 green cardamoms/elaichi
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch
5 cloves/laung
1 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini, broken into small pieces (or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon)

Here's what to do:
1) Grind coriander seeds, poppy seeds, Kashmiri mirch, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, green cardamoms, cloves, and cassia bark to fine powder. Set aside. (I use a coffee grinder dedicated solely to grinding spices.)

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2) Heat cooking oil or ghee with 2 teaspoonfuls salt in kadhai or deep heavy bottomed skillet for 5 minutes. Add diced onions and fry until beginning to brown. Add garlic paste and ginger paste and fry for about 2 minutes or until raw smell is gone from garlic.

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3) Add ground spices for masala to the fried onions, stir well, and fry for 2 minute. Add chicken pieces to fried onion mixture in pan. Cook chicken pieces for 2 minutes on each side. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water to the pan, stir well, and reduce heat.

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4) Add coconut milk and water to pan. Stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low/medium and allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes.

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5) Stir in the tamarind paste and cook for 5 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through and tender. Salt to taste and serve immediately. 

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Helpful hints:
You can make the spice mixture ahead of time and store it in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Gorgeous Goan coastline.

6 comments:

  1. Nothing says Goa more than those red laterite rocks!
    I'm a big fan of veg xacuti. I'm lazy though, I buy the pre-mixed spice packs to make it when I'm in Goa (around 30p) and cheat! xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vix,
      I've never seen spice mix packs for xacuti. I don't doubt that there are a lot of South Indian spice mixes we don't get here. I'm surprised because we do get Everest brand spice mixes here which are from Mumbai. Sounds yum, those premade spice mixes are usually great quality.
      xox

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  2. I'll keep an eye out for that cookbook-sounds like a nice, uncomplicated template of sorts for a number of recipes. Goodness that Kashmiri mirch adds a beautiful colour to everything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Goody,
      I was surprised at how good that $6 cookbook is! I have several much more expensive cookbooks by famous chefs that are written badly & have recipes that just don't work.This book is hardcover too but printed in China so the binding & paper quality aren't that great.

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  3. Immediately I saw "Goa", I thought of Vix and Jon. I shall definitely look for the spice mix packs for xacuti on the next pilgrimage to Jungle Jim's: something new to try with my chicken and veg is always welcome!

    Noted your remark about the neighbor's child, Bibi, on Eat the Blog. ?!?!, indeed. How can swine flu appear in a Hindu/Muslim area? Do hope Nepal's version of the CDC can sort this mystery quickly.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Beth,
    I've not seen xacuti spice mix in the US online or off but it's apparently quite widely available in the UK.

    The strains of swine flu here are spread human to human by respiratory droplets (no animal host is required). In fact the strain here is most likely coming from India via the US. According to this statement from an Indian newspaper by an Indian doctor at the Indian version of the CDC-

    “Swine flu cases are going upward this year in comparison to last year and it is a reason of concern. This year, only Michigan strain of H1N1 is circulating. During 2016, the California strain and Michigan strain both were circulating in India, Dr. Jagdish Prasad, director general of health services (DGHS) at Union health ministry"

    There have been about 700 deaths due to swine flu & about 15,000 Indians infected with swine flu this year already.
    Nepalis go to India to work as maids, security guards, day laborers, etc. When those Nepali workers return to their villages here they often bring back all sorts of nasties. (We had a few polio cases here due to this sort of thing a few years back.) Also, most South Asians do not use kleenex or tissue paper to wipe or blow their noses. They usually sneeze into their bare hands and wipe the respiratory droplets on whatever is available (doorsills are a common repository for snot). Or they'll blow their nose by plugging one nostril by pressing it shut with a finger and exhaling forcefully through the other nostril - resulting in respiratory droplets flying everywhere.

    Hindus can and do eat pork. It's not a favorite meat among Hindus though. I was quite surprised to see a bout 40 huge hogs being herded down a street by a tiny boy on the way to the butchers on an early morning walk in Delhi's Paharganj neighborhood.

    ReplyDelete

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