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Pakistani Cuisines and Chicken Curry

Much like India, Pakistan too has several kinds of curries hailing from the different parts of the land. There’s Punjabi, Lahori, Sindh, Pashtun, Blochi, Mughlai, Kashmiri, Parsi, Gujarati and Bihari. My family come from Lahore, so naturally the food I will describe in my posts hail from Lahore too, though on some occasion they may be influenced by other regions.

Lahori food is wholesome, full of flavor and have enough spices to put hairs on your chest! One of the major cultural attractions in Lahore is Gualmundi, or in other words ‘Food Street’. When I first went there, I felt like a kid taken to the candy shop!  The street is literally full of Lahori and Pakistani delicacies. There’s Haleem, Nihari, Kheer, Batereh, and let’s not forget Dhey Paleh! This place is definitely worth a visit if you’re a foody looking for adventure.

There’s one dish in particular that I found myself craving a few weeks back and when I heard my family in London were about to tuck into some chicken curry. My mouth immediately began watering and I just knew that I had to make some for myself that weekend. Chicken Curry is a simple yet delicious Pakistani dish. I can’t describe the taste, aroma or pleasure this dish gives, it can only be experienced…

For this dish I recommend using a whole chicken cut into no less than 8 pieces. Bones are essential to add a nice flavor to the sauce – boneless chicken will also be nice however, but not as nice.

Recipe

1 whole chicken cut without skin and into no less than 8 pieces

2 medium – large onions sliced

3 cloves of garlic crushed

1 inch garlic chopped

2 black cardamoms

6 green cardamons

1 cinnamon stick

4-6 bird’s eye green chillies chopped

3-4 tbsp tomato puree

1/4 cup plain yoghurt

Salt to taste

2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp ajwain seeds

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 litre water

3 tbsp oil – I use olive oil in all of my cooking

fresh coriander to garnish

Method:

Marinade the chicken in the yogurt and 1/2 tsp salt, and 2 of the chopped chillies for a few hours if you can.

In a pot, heat some oil and gently fry the black and green cardimoms and cinnamon stick for 1 minute, add the onions and continue to fry on a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until they have softened. Add the crused garlic and ginger and fry for another minute. Add the chopped chillies and about 1/2 a cup of water and cook on a low heat to further soften the onions. Once most of the water has evaporated add the tomato puree and remove from the heat. Blend the mixture to a puree or mash with a potato masher to break down the onions as much as possible.

Add the turmeric, salt, red chilli powder and a drop of water if the sauce is too dry and return to a medium heat. Stir frequently to avoid the sauce from sticking. Once the sauce has reduced and is close to drying out add the chicken with the marinade to the sauce. Fry on a medium to high heat, stirring frequently so that the chicken turns white evenly. If your sauce is too thick at this point add 1/4 cup of water. Fry for no more that 5-7 minutes, then cover securely and simmer for 10-15 minutes. It’s advised to check half way through to stir and ensure the chicken is releasing its juices.

Once the chicken has released its juices turn the heat up and cook without the lid for a further 5 minutes or so or until the liquid has evaporated and the sauce has begun to release some oil. Remove the cardimon pods. At this point bring the heat down to medium and add a tbsp of oil to induce the oil release and the ajwain seeds, cumin and corriander powder and stir frequently. Once the oil has separated from the sauce add the water, allow to boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Check to ensure the chicken is cooked fully and then turn off the heat. Season with salt to taste and spinkle the garam masala and corriander on top.

Serving tip: Serve with plain boiled rice and a side salad. This dish may also be eaten with naan bread or even with regular french stick, if desired.