Murgh Khade Masala Ke Stew
(Indian Chicken Stew cooked with Whole Spices )
There are times when you want to have your cake and eat it too. Usually when I make chicken stew I use herbs and at times a bit of wine along with the vegetables of the season and that makes it a Western influenced dish.
Today all of a sudden I was craving some spicy dish yet this extreme hot and humid weather is a big deterrent for me to cook spicy rich gravies and then I suddenly thought of making some Murgh Khade masala Ke meaning Chicken cooked with Whole Spices. In fact while cooking it I decided it should have some soupy gravy instead of a rich thick one and what resulted in the end was a delight to have. It had the fragile flavour of all the whole spices. When you dry roast spices and grind them it automatically increases the spiciness of the dish. In this dish because the spices are kept whole it leads to this aromatic flavourful dish. The yogurt used in the dish adds flavour and because yogurt is a natural coolant it makes the dish perfect for the hot weather.
This is best enjoyed with some rice or handmade flatbread 'Chapati'
The other point is that chicken breasts need a lot of care while cooking because a little bit of extra cooking leads to dry chewy texture. For roasts and other European dishes with the skin on it still does give you some protection but for Indian curries where the chicken is always cooked skinless and doesn't use any batter as coating for protection, this one problem has always bothered me and then I found a solution from RasaMalaysia's site. She shared the trade secret of keeping chicken breasts juicy moist and delicious by marinating pieces of chicken breast in bi-carbonate of soda for 15 minutes to 30 minutes and washing them well before marinating the chicken or cooking it directly and boy does it work like a miracle. The chicken breast stays juicy , moist and full of flavour and so I applied it for my Indian Chicken Stew cooked with Whole Spices. It did work beautifully in keeping the pieces of chicken breast juicy and moist.
1 Kilogram chicken cut up in medium sizes
1 tsp bi-carbonate of soda
1 tbsp smooth thick garlic paste
Paste made from 1 inch ginger
4 small onions sliced thinly
3 tbsp yogurt beaten well with a bit of warm water
2 cups water
1/2 cup cashew nuts (This is optional but I like it when I use it. If using the cashew nuts simply grind it with half the yogurt till it reaches a creamy consistency)
4 to 5 green cardamom
1 black cardamom
2 medium sized 'Tej Patta' aka 'Indian bay Leaf'
6 whole dried red chilies
2 inch cinnamon
Pinch of turmeric
1 tsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
Salt as per taste
Take out the pieces of chicken breast and marinate these pieces with bi-carbonate of soda and leave it aside for 20 minutes and then wash it very well and marinate all of your chicken with ginger garlic paste and let it marinate for 1 hour to 2 hours.
Make a smooth paste of the yogurt and cashew nuts. Add turmeric and chili powder to this mixture.
Heat the ghee in a deep bottomed vessel and add the onion on low heat and when it becomes golden brown add all your spices including the dried red chilies and stir for 1 minute and add the chicken all the while keeping the heat on low. Stir for 5 minutes on low heat and then add the curd cashew nut paste along with salt and water and keep stirring on low heat till it comes to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
For a quicker method once you add the water and salt bring the content to a boil on high heat and immediately after it comes to a boil simmer for 40 minutes.
Enjoy this delicious stew with some 'Chapati' or any type flat bread or even rice.