Showing posts with label Chicken. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chicken. Show all posts

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. 

murgh xacuti, goan, chicken, curry, easy, indian, recipe goa, coconut, simple, spicy, xacuti, murgh,

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.  

murgh xacuti, goan, chicken, curry, easy, indian, recipe goa, coconut, simple, spicy, xacuti, murgh,

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.)

murgh xacuti, goan, chicken, curry, easy, indian, recipe goa, coconut, simple, spicy, xacuti, murgh,

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.

murgh xacuti, goan, chicken, curry, easy, indian, recipe goa, coconut, simple, spicy, xacuti, murgh,

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.

murgh xacuti, goan, chicken, curry, easy, indian, recipe goa, coconut, simple, spicy, xacuti, murgh,

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.

murgh xacuti, goan, chicken, curry, easy, indian, recipe goa, coconot, simple, spicy, xacuti, murgh,

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. 

murgh xacuti, goan, chicken, curry, easy, indian, recipe goa, coconut, simple, spicy, xacuti, murgh,

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.

Feb 15, 2017

Kohinoor Chicken Curry

kohinoor chicken curry, chicken, murgh, kohinoor, curry, easy, mughal, moghul, north indian, indian, easy, recipe, non veg, spicy, authentic, traditional,

From the royal courts of the ancient Mughals comes this recipe for a rich chicken curry. First, the chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices which will render it moist and flavorsome. The marinated chicken pieces are then slowly simmered until tender in a creamy gravy lavishly laced with traditional spices. Truly a regal dish that requires far less effort than you might think to prepare!

kohinoor chicken curry, chicken, murgh, kohinoor, curry, easy, mughal, moghul, north indian, indian, easy, recipe, non veg, spicy, authentic, traditional,

This is one of those creamy, rich, ultra-posh Mughal dish with all the "bells and whistles" so popular around Delhi. The long list of ingredients does look quite daunting, but I've broken it down and simplified the steps so it's really not that difficult! It is also a great recipe for any special occasion as most of the preparation can be done a day in advance. A word of warning though, this chicken curry is VERY spicy. This isn't one of those bland, timid Mughlai recipes relying mostly on butterfat and cream for it's flavor. There's definitely a lot of spice and heat going on here, but it is masterfully blended to perfection. So if you're looking for a chicken curry recipe with bold, vibrant, IN YOUR FACE flavor - this is it!

Ingredients:
1kg/2lbs chicken, skinless and cut into 8 pieces, bone in preferred
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee
1 C onions, thinly sliced into half moons
3 tomatoes, diced finely or pureed
2 C water or stock/shorba
1 TBS dried mint (optional for garnish)
Grind to smooth paste for masala:
1 TBS coriander/dhania
2 tsp cumin/jeera
9 cloves/laung
12 black peppercorns/kali mirch
7 green cardamoms/elaichi
1 inch piece cassia bark/dalchini, broken into small pieces
1 TBS water
Grind until smooth for marinade:
1 C full fat yogurt
1/2 tsp flour/maida (this will keep the yogurt from splitting)
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
3-4 green chilis/hari mirch
1/4 C almonds/badaami, ground finely (or coconut cream)*
2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp paprika plus 1 tsp cayenne powder)
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
2 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) Grind almonds to fine powder in mixie, food processor, or blender. Grind powdered almonds and all ingredients listed for marinade to smooth paste in a mixie, foods or blender. Coat each piece of chicken in marinade. Place chicken and marinade in airtight, sealable container and allow to marinate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

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2) When ready to cook, heat oil over medium heat in a large heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai for 5 minutes. While oil is heating grind spices with water as listed for masala in mixie, food processor, or blender and set aside. Add thinly sliced onions to hot oil and fry for 5 to 7 minutes or until just beginning to brown. 

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3) Add diced or pureed tomatoes and ground spices for masala to the fried onions, stir well, and fry for 5 minutes or until oil separates from the mixture.


4) Add marinated chicken pieces to fried onion mixture in pan. Reserve marinade. Cook chicken pieces for 2 minutes on each side. Add reserved marinade and 2C water or stock/shorba. Stir well.

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5) Bring the dish to a simmer covered over medium heat. Stir well every 5 minutes turning the chicken pieces to be sure they cook evenly. The dish is ready when the chicken is cooked through, about half the liquid has evaporated, and the oil separates from the gravy. This usually takes 20 to 25 minutes.  Salt to taste, garnish with dried mint if desired and serve!

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Helpful hints:
For persons suffering peanut or nut allergies a good substitute for ground almonds is canned coconut cream. (Persons suffering peanut and tree nut sensitivity can usually safely eat coconut.)

Lithograph dated 1844 from the online gallery of the British Library depicting the Maharaja Ranjit Singh's jewels including the famed Kohinoor diamond (top center). Maharaja Ranjit Singh extorted the Kohinoor diamond from the Emir of Afghanistan in 1813. The lithograph also portrays one of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's favorite horses shown with the head officer of his stables.

Jan 9, 2017

Malai Methi Murgh

malai methi murgh recipe chicken curry indian fenugreek cream creamy easy

Malai means cream, methi means fenugreek, and murgh means chicken. In this dish chicken is simmered until meltingly tender in a rich, creamy gravy fragrant with fenugreek and traditional aromatic spices. A true North Indian delicacy that's mild in heat yet boldly spiced and flavorsome. A perfect recipe for a cozy and comforting Fall or Winter supper when paired with rice or rotis!

malai methi murgh recipe chicken curry indian fenugreek cream creamy easy

Fenugreek and I have not always been such good friends. It's not a familiar flavor to the Western palate and can easily overpower a dish if not used properly and judiciously. This dish uses the dried leaves of fenugreek which are usually available at any Indian grocers' by the name kasoori methi.

Kasoori Methi or dried fenugreek leaves usually come sealed in foil in a small box of a few ounces.

Dried fenugreek leaves or kasoori methi require a little special treatment to get them to release their rich and complex flavor without becoming bitter or overwhelming. As with herbs in general, fenugreek's flavor is much more concentrated in the dried form while the fresh leaves are much milder. A few pinches of the dried herb is all that's necessary to imbibe it's earthy flavor often said to be a bittersweet blend of celery, fennel, and maple.
The herb kasoori methi or dried fenugreek leaves.
Cream is the perfect agent to mellow the sharpness of kasoori methi and best bring out the rich, complex flavor. Never fry kasoori methi as it may scorch and turn unpalatably bitter. (One of my first unfriendly encounters with kasoori methi was the result of just such a scorching.) Only add the kasoori methi towards the end of the dish after the cream or other liquid has been added. Be sure to crush the kasoori methi between your fingers when adding it to a dish to help release it's flavor. Not more than a tablespoonful is usually all that's necessary, anymore than that in a recipe is cause for grave suspicion! If you follow all these suggestions you'll be rewarded with a gravy whose velvety texture is enhanced and warmly accented with kasoori methi's unique and robust flavor. If you wish to learn more about fenugreek when used as a spice, fresh herb, or dried herb you may do so on a post I did here. Despite any previous mishaps, I think you'll find when fenugreek is used gently and judiciously it's quite the taste sensation!

Ingredients:
1 kg/2lbs chicken pieces, skinless and bone in
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1 C onions, thinly sliced into half moons
2 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
2 TBS ginger/adrak paste
2-3 green chilis/hari mirch, finely chopped (omit for less heat)
1 TBS coriander/dhania
1 tsp turmeric/haldi
2 tsp garam masala
5 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised with mortar and pestle
3 black cardamoms/badi elaichi, bruised with mortar and pestle
5 cloves/laung
1 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch, ground coarsely
2 cassia leaves/
1 C milk mixed with 1/4 C cream
1 C water or stock/shorba
1/2 to 1 TBS dried fenugreek leaves/kasoori methi

Here's what to do:
1) Heat oil or ghee with 1 teaspoon salt over medium high heat in a deep heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai for 4-5 minutes. Add thinly sliced onions and fry for 8-10 minutes until medium brown. Add green chilis, garlic, and ginger paste and fry for 2 minutes stirring well. Add coriander, turmeric, garam masala, green cardamoms, black cardamoms, cloves, cassia bark, black peppercorns, and cassia leaves. Stir well and cook mixture for at least 2 minutes or until raw smell leaves spices.


2) Add chicken pieces to the pan. Allow chicken pieces to cook for about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in milk mixed with cream. Return pan to heat and bring to simmer over medium heat.


3) Add 1 to 2 cups water or stock (or enough to cover chicken by at least a half an inch of liquid)  to chicken mixture in pan. Crumble dried fenugreek leaves/kasoori methi over chicken mixture and stir in well.

4) Allow to simmer over medium covered for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and oil separates from the gravy. Salt to taste and serve with rice and/or rotis.



Nov 30, 2016

Chicken Rogan Josh

Chicken Rogan Josh kashmiri recipe curry easy authentic indian

In Persian, Rogan means fat or ghee and Josh means intense or boiling. Rogan Josh made with mutton is a traditional dish of Kashmir and was introduced by the Persian speaking Mughals. This recipe uses chicken in place of mutton for a delicious red curry. Although lavishly spiced this dish is more aromatic in flavor than fiery hot. The chicken is seared until golden brown then braised until tender in the rich and velvety sauce. Perfect for a chilly Fall or Winter day served with rice and a few piquant chutneys.

Chicken Rogan Josh kashmiri recipe curry easy authentic indian

As is the traditional Kashmiri manner the chicken is first browned in salted ghee and oil then set aside. Browning the chicken in salted oil gives it a bit of a savory crust as well as leaving delicious drippings for making the sauce. The sauce is then made with layer upon layer of flavors. The Kashmiri mirch, fennel, dry ginger, cassia, cloves, black and green cardamoms are all authentic flavors of Kashmiri cuisine. Tempering the yogurt gives the sauce that velvety texture. Finally, the sauce and chicken are combined to slowly simmer to meld the flavors. The sauce is quite soupy as it is served with rice like most Kashmiri dishes. (If you'd prefer a thicker gravy then grind the onions to a smooth paste before frying.) Kashmiris probably wouldn't use the cassia leaves but I find their delicate fragrance enhances the flavors so I put them in. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1kg/2lbs chicken, skinless and cut into 8 pieces with bone in
2 TBS cooking oil
2 TBS ghee/clarified butter
3 onions, sliced thinly into half moons (or ground into paste for thick gravy)
2 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
2 TBS ginger/adrak paste
2 cassia leaves/tej patta (optional)
2 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
2 C water or stock
1 TBS dried mint (optional for garnish)
Grind for masala:
3 black cardamoms/kali elaichi
5 green cardamoms/elaichi,
6 cloves/laung
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch
2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
2 tsp coriander seeds/dhania
Mix until smooth for sauce:
1 cup full fat yogurt/dahi
1/2 tsp flour/maida (this will keep the yogurt from splitting)
1 TBS Kashmiri mirch (or 1&1/2 tsp paprika plus 1&1/2 tsp cayenne)
2 tsp ground fennel/saunf
1 tsp dry ginger/soonth
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi

Here's what to do:
1) Heat cooking oil or ghee with 1 teaspoonful salt in kadhai or deep heavy bottomed skillet for 7 minutes. While oil is heating mix yogurt together with spices and flour as listed for sauce until smooth and set aside. Grind spices listed for masala and set aside.


2) Fry chicken pieces in hot oil and ghee for about 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Set fried chicken pieces aside on a plate.


3) In same pan fry sliced (or ground) onions until beginning to brown. Add garlic paste, ginger paste, cassia leaves, cassia bark and spices ground for masala. Fry for about 2 minutes or until raw smell is gone from garlic.

4)  Remove pan from heat and add yogurt mixed with flour and spices to fried onion mixture. Stir well and return pan to heat. Bring mixture to a simmer. (This tempers the yogurt to give it a smooth texture.) Allow mixture to simmer for 5 minutes. If mixture begins to scorch or stick reduce heat, add 1/4 cup water and stir well.

 

5) After 5 minutes return the fried chicken pieces to the pan with the onion, yogurt, and spice mixture. Stir well. Add 2 cups water or stock to the spice and chicken mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover pan and allow to simmer for 15 minutes or until chicken pieces are cooked through and oil separates from the sauce. Salt to taste and garnish with dried mint if desired.


Helpful Hints:
I do find that sometimes chicken can get a bit dry when cooked this way. To prevent that I usually soak the skinless chicken in a brine solution of 3 tablespoons salt to one liter/four cups water for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight in the refrigerator. Before fryimg rinse the chicken pieces well  and dispose of the brine solution. This really makes for tender, juicy chicken!

Nov 4, 2016

Kashmiri Style Chicken Curry

Kashmiri Style Chicken Curry recipe curry indian authentic kashmir

From the beautiful vale of Kashmir comes this recipe for a brilliant red chicken curry. The warmth of traditional aromatic spices and crimson Kashmiri chilis are melded in a velvety yogurt based sauce. Crisply seared chicken is then simmered until meltingly tender in this richly aromatic sauce. The Kashmiris enjoy this dish garnished with dried mint or perhaps sultanas and cashews stirred in on special occasions.

Kashmiri Style Chicken Curry recipe curry indian authentic kashmir

This is our everyday chicken curry recipe. No, it not sweet, nor does it have any sugar in it, or coconut, or pineapple, or dried apricots like most of the abominations called Kashmiri chicken you'll find in restaurants. As is the traditional Kashmiri manner the chicken is first browned in salted oil and set aside. Browning the chicken in salted oil gives it a bit of a crispy salt crust as well as leaving delicious drippings for making the sauce. The sauce is quite soupy as it is served with rice like most Kashmiri dishes. The flavor is more aromatic than spicy hot with a bit of a tang from the yogurt. If you want to make it really fancy you can toss a handful of cashews or sultanas in about ten minutes before serving.

Ingredients:
1kg/2lbs chicken, skinless and cut into 8 pieces with bone in
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee
2 onions, sliced thinly into half moons
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
7 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised with mortar and pestle
5 cloves/laung
2 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch, coarsely ground
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
2 tomatoes, diced finely or pureed
2 C water or stock
2 TBS sultanas (optional)
2 TBS cashews (optional)
1 TBS dried mint/pudina (optional for garnish)
Mix until smooth for sauce-
1 C yogurt/dahi
1/2 tsp flour/maida (this will keep the yogurt from splitting)
1 TBS Kashmiri mirch (or 1&1/2 tsp paprika plus 1&1/2 tsp cayenne powder)
2 tsp ground fennel/saunf
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
1 tsp dry ginger/soonth
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi

Here's what to do:
1) Heat cooking oil or ghee with 1 teaspoonful salt in kadhai or deep heavy bottomed skillet for 7 minutes. While oil is heating mix yogurt together with spices and flour as listed for gravy until smooth and set aside. Fry chicken pieces in hot oil or ghee for about 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Set fried chicken pieces aside on a plate.


2) In same pan fry sliced onions until beginning to brown. Add garlic paste, ginger paste, green cardamoms, cloves, cassia bark, black peppercorns, and cumin seeds. Fry for about 2 minutes or until raw smell is gone from garlic.


3) Add finely diced tomatoes and fry for about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add yogurt mixed with flour and spices to fried tomato and onion mixture. Stir well and return pan to heat. Bring mixture to a simmer. Allow mixture to simmer for 5 minutes. If mixture begins to scorch or stick reduce heat, add 1/4 cup water and stir well.


4) After 5 minutes return the fried chicken pieces to the pan with the onion and spice mixture. Stir well. Add 2 cups water or stock to the spice and chicken mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover pan and allow to simmer for 15 minutes or until chicken pieces are cooked through and oil separates from the sauce. (If using sultanas or cashews stir them in after the chicken has simmered for about ten minutes.) Salt to taste and garnish with dried mint if desired.


Helpful Hints:
I do find that sometimes chicken can get a bit dry when cooked this way. To prevent that I usually soak the skinless chicken in a brine solution of 3 tablespoons salt to one liter/four cups water for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight in the refrigerator. Before frying rinse the chicken pieces well  and dispose of the brine solution. This really makes for tender, juicy chicken!

An illustration of market boats on Nallah Mar canal in Srinagar from Francis Younghusband's 1917 book Kashmir.

Jul 27, 2016

Nepali Style Chicken Curry


Khukura Nepal maso ko spicy

From the heart of the Himalayas comes this delicious chicken curry. Chicken is marinated then slowly simmered until delectably tender in a richly seasoned sauce of traditional Nepali spices. Don't let that long list of ingredients in this recipe intimidate you, this is one of the easiest and tastiest chicken curries you'll ever make!



There are so many ethnicities in the tiny nation of Nepal it's really hard to generalize the cuisine. I learned this recipe from a lovely lady who once ran a small restaurant in the town of Malekhu on the banks of the Trishuli river in Nepal. She firmly insisted this chicken needs to marinate overnight or a full day for the best flavor. Although everyone cooks their chicken curry a little differently the marination in oil is typical of many Nepali meat curries. The liberal use of spices such as black cardamom, fenugreek, and cassia leaves or "tej patta" is common to many Nepali dishes. If you've never made a curry this is a great "first recipe" to try. It really is incredibly simple to make but so scrumptious!

Ingredients:
1kg/2lbs chicken, skinless, bone in, cut into 8 pieces
2 cassia leaves/tej patta
2 inch piece cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)
Grind to smooth paste for marinade:
1/3 C cooking oil (I use rice bran oil but tempered mustard oil would be authentic)
2 C onion, roughly chopped
2 TBS ginger/adrak paste
2 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS coriander/dhania, ground or sseds
2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp cayenne powder + 1 tsp paprika powder)
2 tsp cumin/jeera, ground or seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
5 green cardamoms/elaichi
3 black cardamoms/kali elaichi
1 tsp fenugreek seeds/methi
5 cloves/laung
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch
1/4 tsp mace/javitri (or nutmeg/jaiphal)
2-3 green chilis/hari mirch (omit for less heat)
2 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) Grind all ingredients listed under marinade to smooth paste in mixie, food processor, or blender. Coat all chicken pieces in ground marinade and place in a sealable airtight container. If you like, place the cassia leaves/tej patta and cassia bark/dalchini on top of the marinating chicken pieces in the container. Allow chicken to marinate for at least 2 hours up to overnight in the refrigerator.

  

2) When ready to cook place marinated chicken pieces, tej patta/cassia leaves, and cassia bark/dalchini in kadhai or deep heavy bottomed skillet. Reserve marinade. Allow chicken pieces to fry on each side for 3 minutes, chicken should just be turning white. (The chicken has been marinated in oil so there's no need to add oil to the pan.)


3) Add reserved marinade to chicken pieces in pan. Stir well and fry for 5 minutes. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water, stir, and reduce heat.


4) Add 1 C water to pan, stir well and allow chicken pieces to simmer uncovered over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and oil has separated from the sauce. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water, stir, and reduce heat. Salt to taste and serve.

Helpful hints:
Never cook chicken in a pressure cooker, it gets a rubbery texture from the extreme, high heat.

I think this technique of marination in oil came about in Nepal previous to modern refrigeration. Even with refrigeration nowadays electricity is so sporadic this technique is still quite useful.

Jun 21, 2016

Chicken Rezala


rezala chicken recipe simple indian historicl

Although quite decadent and delicious, this is one of the easiest recipes you could make for a posh event. Famous within the Muslim community of Kolkata, Rezala is a creamy chicken dish made with aromatic cardamom, saffron, and kewra essence in a velvety sauce. A truly regal Mughal dish from a bygone era.


When the Nawabs of Awadh and descendants of Tipu Sultan were exiled in Bengal they took their royal chefs with them. Thus Mughlai cuisine was formally established in Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) and mingled with Bengali tastes and flavors. Bengalis like their dishes a little on the sweet side so traditionally this recipe is enriched with a pinch of sugar as well as a slurry of coconut milk and ground cashews. Cashews are a bit too sweet for my Kashmiri family's tastes so I've replaced them with poppy seeds and coconut cream. I've also replaced the sugar with a little flour to reduce the sweetness and keep the yogurt from splitting. (In case you like a little sweet in your savory dishes I've given the measurements for the sugar and cashews though.) As with most Bengali dishes, Rezala has a thin gravy and is best enjoyed with rice. Do try this dish to experience the influence of nawabi (princely) finesse on rustic Bengali cuisine.

Ingredients:
1kg or 2lbs chicken, skinless and cut into 8 pieces
1 TBS cooking oil
2 TBS ghee
2 cassia leaves/tej patta
5 dried red chilis/lal mirch
7 cloves/laung
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
8 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
4 black cardamoms/kali elaichi
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch, whole
pinch of saffron strands (optional)
2 tsp kewra water (optional)
10-12 dry roasted almonds (optional for garnish)
Grind to smooth paste for gravy:
3/4 C yogurt/dahi
1/2 C onions, chopped roughly
1/2 teaspoon flour/maida or sugar/chinni (this will keep the yogurt from splitting)
1 tsp salt
1/2 C coconut cream
Grind to smooth paste for marinade:
1/2 C yogurt/dahi
1/2 C onions, roughly chopped
2 TBS ginger/adrak paste
2 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
2-3 green chilis/hari mirch
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper, ground
1 tsp cumin/jeera, ground
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
1/2 tsp mace/javitri
1/2 tsp nutmeg/jaiphal
1 TBS white poppy seeds/khus khus (or ground cashews/kaju)
3-4 green chilis/hari mirch, chopped roughly (omit for less heat)

Here's what to do:
1) Grind all ingredients listed under marinade to a smooth paste. Coat all chicken pieces in marinade mix and place in sealable airtight container. Allow chicken to marinate for 30 minutes up to overnight in the refrigerator.

2) When ready to cook grind all ingredients listed under gravy to smooth paste and set aside. Heat oil and ghee in deep heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai and fry cassia leaves/tej patta, dried red chilis/lal mirch, cloves/laung, cumin seeds/jeera, green cardamoms/elaichi, black cardamoms/kali elaichi, and black peppercorns/kali mirch.


3) Remove pan from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes add the smooth paste for gravy from step 2 to pan with fried spices and stir well. Return pan to heat and bring mixture to simeer. Allow gravy mixture to simmer for 5 minutes.


4) Add chicken pieces with marinade to simmering gravy mixture. Allow chicken mixture to simmer covered over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken pieces are cooked completely. You shouldn't have to add any liquid to this dish, the chicken should cook covered in it's own juices to intensify the flavors.

5) Turn off heat and stir in saffron strands if using. Allow saffron to steep in dish for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with kewra water and dry roasted almonds if using just before serving with rice, naan, or rotis.

Helpful Hints:
Never cook chicken in a pressure cooker as the extreme heat will make the texture rubbery.

Wajid Ali Shah, 10th and last Nawab of Awadh
"Cast by providence for the role of an accomplished dilettante, he found himself a misfit for the high office to which he was elevated by chance. Wajid Ali Shah's character was complex. Though he was a man of pleasure, he was neither an unscrupulous knave nor a brainless libertine. He was a lovable and generous gentleman. He was a voluptuary, still he never touched wine, and though sunk in pleasure, he never missed his five daily prayers. It was the literary and artistic attainments of Wajid Ali Shah which distinguished him from his contemporaries."

Dr. G.D. Bhatnagar, Awadh Under Wajid Ali Shah
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