Desi Chilli Chicken

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Whenever I make this dish, I’m reminded of a recent trip to India which ended in pain and tears. The good kind. Obviously. 

It was the night before we were due to fly back home when I decided to visit an Indo-Chinese street food cart next to my grandma’s house. I had passed this cart everyday and had been eyeing up the “goods on offer” carefully considering if I should do the deed. To clarify, doing said deed would involve purchasing a portion of their ever popular chilli chicken and hakka noodles. Sounds simple enough right? But deciding on whether or not you should get involved in an authentic street food experience in India is a dubious proposition indeed (concerns of the “aftermath” consumes much of the reason why).

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Fancying myself as somewhat of an adventurous foodie, I decided to go for it. I handed over my 30 rupees and minutes later, a piping hot mountain of noodles topped with a glorious looking portion of chilli chicken headed my way. I dug in. The first mouthful…wow. In fact every mouthful tasted better than the last. I couldn’t stop. I must have been at it for at least half a minute when I suddenly halted. I looked up and found streams of tears rolling down my cheeks.  Then came the immense burn on my tongue, followed by panting. In short, I was a HOT MESS. In hindsight, this should have been where this culinary escapade ended. But it didn’t and I couldn’t not have more! The burn became more painful but I ploughed on. I fought back the tears and carried on like some sort of deranged addict. The end soon came when the hyperventilating started and I started getting weird looks from, well, everyone. Quite possibly the most exhilarating eating experience of my life!

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Understandably when I returned home, I was itching to recreate this dish and did so successfully but without the cry-me-a-river effect! This recipe is a slight twist on the original but is packed full of flavour which makes it oh so good! Scooped us with hot chapatis or even spicy noodles you will want to try this. Give it a go and let me know what you think!

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Desi Chilli Chicken
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 400g boneless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
  2. 2tbsp gram flour
  3. 1 tsp black pepper
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1/4 tsp red chilli flakes
  6. Egg white from 1 egg
  7. 4 tbsp sunflower oil for frying
  8. 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  9. 3” ginger, finely chopped
  10. 2 birds eye green chillis, finely chopped
  11. 2 tbsp tomato puree
  12. 1 medium onion, diced into 2” chunks
  13. 3 stems spring onion, cut into 1” chunks
  14. 1 small capsicum, cut into 2” chunks
  15. ½ tsp salt
  16. ½ tsp paprika
  17. ½ tsp coriander powder
  18. 1 tsp amchur
  19. 1 tsp garam masala
  20. Handful coriander, finely chopped
  21. Small handful fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Place chicken in a bowl. Add the gram flour, pepper, salt, red chilli flakes and egg white. Mix well.
  2. Heat oil in a wide non-stick pan. Place chicken in the oil and cook for 3-4 minutes until it is white and slightly golden in colour on both sides. Remove from pan and keep aside.
  3. Using the same pan and oil, reduce the heat to low/medium. Now add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Now add the tomato puree and mix well.
  4. Add the onions and sauté for 1 minute. Now add the spring onions and capsicum and mix. Add the chicken. At this point, add salt, paprika, garam masala, amchur. Mix well. Add the fresh mint and coriander.
  5. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Afghani Chicken Drumsticks

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The temperature went into double digits today. Double digits people. That means no more scarves, no more knee high boots and dare I say it no more de-icer? It also means that the sun has got his/ her hat on and Summer is quickly approaching! Yes I am doing a happy dance as I type this (mad skills I know). As the weather gets slightly warmer, I enjoy taking advantage of the grill and my husband with his epic salad making abilities.  

I love recipes that involve marinating and grilling – they’re so easy to make, require minimal washing up and can be prepared in advance. What’s not to like? This Afghani chicken marination is a particular favourite of mine. The addition of ground cashews and almonds makes for a lovely, creamy base. Combined with the tartness of the lime and the heat from the chillies…can I get a MMM MMM MMMM?! 

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Hope you enjoy! As always, let me know what you think in the comments 🙂

Afghani Chicken Drumsticks
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 8 chicken drumsticks, skinless with slits cut into them
  2. 4 tbsp yoghurt
  3. 2 tsbp extra thick double cream (optional)
  4. 3" ginger, peeled
  5. 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  6. 2 green finger or birds eye chillies (optional)
  7. juice of 2 limes
  8. 5 almonds
  9. 10 cashews
  10. 2 1/4 tsp salt, or according to taste
  11. 1/2 tsp paprika
  12. 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  13. 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  14. 1 tsp garam masala
  15. 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  16. 1/4 tsp ground green cardamom (optional)
  17. handful fresh coriander including stems, roughly chopped
  18. 2 tbsp oil or ghee
Instructions
  1. Line a baking tray with foil and turn your grill on the highest temperature setting
  2. Place the chicken in a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients apart from the yoghurt and cream into a processor and blitz into a paste. Empty into a bowl. Now mix in the yoghurt and cream.
  4. Pour this marinade over the chicken and mix well. If you have time, cover and refrigerate over night. If not, place in oven straight away.
  5. Cook for 10 minutes. Then turn the chicken over and cook for an additonal 10 minutes or until the chicken is white all the way through and has begun to char slightly.
  6. Turn off grill and serve with salad and tandoori naan!
Notes
  1. You can soak the almonds and cashews in a little water beforehand so it is creamier when blended in the processor.
  2. Feel free to use any cut of chicken - chicken thighs are also great for grilling!
  3. You can marinate the chicken for up to 48 hours - the longer you leave it the better.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Sukha Chicken Curry

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I really dislike the C word…

…Curry!

It conjures up images of bright orange, gloopy dishes being served at neon signed restaurants with names such as “The Royal Balti” (which for your kind information, translates as “the royal bucket”).

If it is not already obvious – I am Indian. That being the case, I grew up eating Indian food and lots of it. Lots of different types of dishes, all with unique names, ingredients, flavours and aromas. Consequently, I had absolutely zero notion of the concept of “curry”. I remember an incident in primary school when a friend approached me and said “Monica, you’re Indian. Does that mean you have curry every day for tea?” (For any British readers based south of the Watford Gap, the word “tea” is northern for dinner). The blank expression on my face was my response. Needless to say I went home very confused after school that day and had a good chat with Mum to clarify!

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Today’s recipe is one of the few dishes that although has the word “curry” in its name, is nothing like the stereotypical, lifeless, fluorescent aberrations I described earlier! This is the type of dish that made us constantly ask as kids – is it ready yet? How about now? This recipe is just so good. I’m talking lip smacking, forehead-sweating, nose slightly running, hyper ventilating-ly good… you know what I mean!

That’s right, the winner winner chicken dinner that is…Chicken Curry! This specific recipe is a twist on the classic in that it is not as “wet” as the original. Mopped up with hot and fresh chapattis, the drier masala works a treat. Hence the word “sukha” in the dish’s name, which means dry. See what I do? Teach hindi AND share recipes simultaneously…true value here people! I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do. Post your thoughts below. Oh and pleased to say that the lovely people at Net Flights have featured this recipe in their latest magazine! Even more of a reason to try!

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Sukha Chicken Curry
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1kg chicken thighs & legs, skinnless & on the bone
  2. 2 potatoes, washed and quartered
  3. 2 medium onions, chopped roughly
  4. 2 green chillis
  5. 3 garlic cloves,
  6. 3" ginger, washed
  7. 4 tbsp olive oil
  8. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  9. 3” cinnamon stick
  10. 2 cloves
  11. 3 peppercorns
  12. 2 bay leaves
  13. 1 black cardamom
  14. 2 1/2 tsp salt
  15. 2 tsp garam masala
  16. 1 tsp paprika
  17. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  18. 3 plum tomatoes & 3 tbsp juice
  19. handful fresh coriander
Instructions
  1. Using a knife, place some slits in the chicken pieces.
  2. To make the masala, coarsely grind onions in a processor and place in a bowl. Now coarsely grind the chilli, ginger and garlic.
  3. Heat oil in a non stick pan. Once hot add the cumin alongside the cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaf and black cardamom.
  4. When they begin to sizzle in the oil, add the ground onions. Add 1/2 tsp salt and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously.
  5. When they turn slightly translucent, add the ground chilli, ginger and garlic mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes until everything turns a deep golden shade.
  6. Now reduce the heat and add the remaining salt, garam masala, paprika and turmeric powder and mix well. Now add the plum tomatoes and juice and mash into the masala. When the oil begins to separate from the masala sauce, add the chicken and potatoes and mix together.
  7. Add 1/4 cup of water and cook on high heat stirring every couple of minutes. After 5 minutes, reduce heat to medium and place lid on pan. Allow chicken to cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes.
  8. Cut through a piece chicken to ensure it is white all the way through. Place a knife through the potatoes to make sure they are also fully cooked. Sprinkle on fresh coriander and mix.
  9. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. If you would like the gravy of dish to be a little "drier", increase the heat to high and cook until the gravy is of the desired consistency.
Notes
  1. Tip-You can use any part of the chicken but I recommend thigh/leg pieces as they are the most tender!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/