Methi Chicken

This dish, which I cooked last Saturday when we had friends for dinner, always takes me back almost two decades, to the many wonderful meals I ate at the Pandara road “dhabas” in New Delhi with three very very dear school friends. The pudina paranthas; the different kinds of chicken curries (including methi chicken, although a richer sort) and kebabs that we feasted on… maybe it was the company, maybe it was the conversation (life! boys! books! everything), maybe it was the food. But those meals really stand out in my mind….

Methi Chicken

800 gms of chicken without the skin

200 gms of whisked yoghurt

3 tbsps of kasoori methi(dried fenugreek leaves)

4 large onions, sliced very fine

4-5 tsps of grated garlic

4-5 tsps of grated ginger

4 cloves

3 pods of black cardamom, pressed to split it open

3-4 small sticks of cinnamon

6 black peppercorns

1 tsp of turmeric

1 tsp of kashmiri chilli powder (more if you like ; we eat very mild “hot” food)

6 tbsp sunflower oil

salt to taste

Wash the chicken, pierce each piece with a fork in several places, and marinate it overnight in a mixture of the yoghurt, turmeric, chilli powder, ginger, and garlic.

To cook the chicken the next day, heat the oil in a wide and thick-bottomed pan, add the whole spices, and fry till they begin to crackle and release their aromas. Now add the onions and fry for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of water next, and cook the onions on a fairly high heat till the water dries up. Then add the kasoori methi, add ½ a cup of water, and cook again on high heat till the water dries and continue frying till the mixture is a golden brown. Now add the chicken with its marinade, season it with salt and fry it well (turning the pieces frequently to avoid burning) till the yoghurt dries up. Now add a cup or a little more of boiled water (this will depend on how thick or thin you’d like the curry to be), cover the pan, lower the heat a little, and leave to cook till the chicken is very tender. Do turn the pieces over a couple of times during this time or the masala/the chicken can tend to stick to the bottom of the pan.

This is a delicious, aromatic curry that is best enjoyed with phulkas or paranthas.


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