The first weeks of this year look like one incessant Indian cooking session: I have made several batches of the fantastic chilli pickles (from the previous post), I have finally learnt how to prepare easy naans and, last but not least, I have made about a dozen different old and new Indian dishes, among which this chicken in sauce. I relied here on my own mixture of spices, which, given the complex and intimidating Indian culinary heritage, was a high-risk decision. This time I was lucky to obtain a palatable aromatic meal, no matter how far it was from the genuine Indian harmony of flavours.
The recipe is based on this Indian-Style Chutney (my very first attempt to experiment alone with Indian spices), much loved and preserved in big amounts for the past five years. Since I am crazy for its spice combination, I thought I might work on it a bit and adapt to a chicken and tomato dish. I kept the seasoning almost unaltered, making some small modifications, such as skipping the vinegar or adding garlic and ginger, extremely frequent in Indian sauce dishes.
TIPS: Try your best to find nigella seeds (they are available in Indian shops and on internet). For me they are a very important ingredient here. (And if you worry what to do with the remains, they can be used in many European dishes too, for example sprinkled on buns, bread, baked snacks, etc..).
Preparation: about 2 hours
Ingredients (serves two, if served with a light vegetable side-dish)
2 small chicken legs or two big chicken thighs, skinned; if you intend to eat the dish Indian way, i.e. with your hands, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces
1x 400 g can of tomatoes (or, of course, fresh tomatoes, if you read this recipes while they are in season)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium onion, very finely sliced (or 2 big Western shallots)
2 big garlic cloves, crushed
2 cm grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons nigella (onion seeds)
2 or more dried chili peppers whole (without stalks) or torn into pieces
1 teaspoon powdered chili
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
fresh coriander leaves
Heat the oil in a shallow pan.
Stir-fry the whole dry spices (apart from chilli and turmeric powders) and whole chillies at medium heat for about 30 seconds (or more, until they start yielding a wonderful aroma). Make sure you don’t burn them.
Add the sliced onion and stir-fry until golden brown.
Lower the heat, add the garlic and the ginger, stir-fry for about 30 seconds.
Finally add the chopped tomatoes and when they start to boil, add the chicken, the salt, the sugar and the chilli powder.
(If using chopped fresh tomatoes, let them simmer until they disintegrate and create a thick chunky sauce; then only add the chicken, the salt, the sugar and the chilli powder.)
Covert the pot and let it simmer for at least one hour (until the chicken meat falls off the bone). I prefer to simmer at very low heat for at least 2 hours.
Add water during the cooking process if necessary.
Serve with chopped coriander leaves.