This recipe happened by accident. I was not going to make this exotic sounding curry to start with. One dreary day followed the other, and while the rains poured and the wind howled, I craved for a quick comforting chicken curry.
All I wanted to do was to curl up and read. I wanted to be done with the cooking and the dishes as soon as possible. So I marinated the chicken, sliced the onions and as I started cooking I lost myself in a different world. In went the spices and the onions and it was not until they starting browning and mushing up, I realized the planned simple chicken curry with yogurt was not how it was made. Habits are hard to forget: I followed it blindly without a thought to brown the onions as I always do with a chicken curry. Well, I took a wrong turn, and it took a tad bit longer, but it did lead to a surprisingly delectable dish.
The one I was thinking of making is quite different and very typical in a Bengali home. It is almost a one pot curry where everything goes in the spiced oil and gets cooked slowly while one waits without doing much until the chicken gets cooked. It is pale, light with a whitish sauce and very fragrant. I will post that some time later.
The browning of the onions changes the color of the curry and I did not want to continue with the original plan any more. Instead I decided to add methi/fenugreek leaves to it. The rest of the ingredients remain the same. One thing lead to the other and we did end up with a darn good curry. Not so simple as a one pot recipe, it did make a satisfying dinner with steamed rice, some hot rotis and a side of salad.
Dahi Methi Murgh – Chicken Curry in Fenugreek and Yogurt Sauce
Ingredients: (serves 4-6)
- 3 lbs skinless chicken (approx.) – about 8 medium- large sized drumsticks (with bone preferred, but can do without it)
- 1. 5 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt to taste
- 1 small onion (about 1/3 cup chopped)
- 2 inch fresh ginger
- 10 large garlic cloves (about 1/4 cup)
- 4 (or more) hot green chili pepper
- 1-2 large onion (about 3 cups sliced), thinly sliced in half moons
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 + 1/4 cup thick strained plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon corn starch/corn flour - to stabilize the yogurt and prevent it from splitting
- 1.5 cups of finely chopped fresh tender methi/fenugreek leaves OR 2-2.5 tablespoon of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- 2 teaspoon (or to taste) red chili powder/cayenne/red kashmiri chili powder (this is what I use)
- 6 small green cardamom, cracked & seeds released
- few black peppercorns – about 6
- 1 teaspoon ground white peppercorn
- 3 inch cinnamon
- 1 tejpatta/Indian bay leaf
- 6-8 tablespoon ghee or oil
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
Note: And this is for any curries where the onion (sliced or grated or paste) and ginger garlic paste needs to be cooked/browned;make sure they are well done without burning, so controlling the heat and stirring and scraping very frequently is the way to do it. If these are not well cooked, the sauce gets grainy and the curry will have a strange raw uncooked incomplete taste. So cook the spice mix/masala until you see the oil separate in the pan. The mix will have little pools of the separated oil in between them and also along the sides of the pan.
The corn flour is not really a necessity here. Yogurt tends to split/break up in high heat and I have noticed if Chickpea flour is used, the yogurt does not break. I experimented with the corn flour here to stabilize the yogurt as the corn flour/starch does not alter the taste as much as the chickpea flour.
If you using whole chicken drumsticks, make diagonal slits on the flesh. Any kind of chicken may be used for this dish. Clean and wash chicken; pat dry with paper towels.
In a non reactive bowl combine some salt, red chili powder, and lemon juice, toss the chicken with it and allow it to sit for 20 minutes.
Make a coarse paste with 1 small onion, ginger garlic and half the hot green chili pepper.
Combine half of this paste with one cup of yogurt. Add this mix to the already marinated chicken and toss well so all the chicken pieces are really well coated with this yogurt mix. Allow this to marinate for a couple of hours if possible.
Set aside the rest of the yogurt and the other half of the ginger garlic chili paste. Whisk the corn flour/starch with the rest 1/4 cup of yogurt and set aside.
Place wide bottomed pan on the stove with oil in it. Add the peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom and the bay leaf and allow the oil to heat up – a couple of minutes. When the spices start to sizzle and releases the aroma, add the sliced onion, the ginger garlic onion paste, and the half teaspoon of sugar. If you are using the fresh methi/fenugreek leaves, add them now. Cook at medium to high meat for about 10-12 minutes, or until the onions start to turn golden and a little brown on the edges.
Now take the marinated chicken and place each piece in the pan; try to place them so that they are in direct contact with the bottom of the pan. Save the leftover marinade. You may move around the onions to top the chicken at this time. Cook the chicken on each side while tossing them midway, so all the sides are light brown. This will take about 15 minutes.
In the mean time combine the left over marinade with the corn flour and yogurt mix, If you are using the kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves, add them to the yogurt mix. Combine one and a half cup of water and whisk well.
When the chicken is light brown, and the oil seems to leave the sides of the pan (watch for this, as this means that the spice mix is almost cooked), and the onions kind of mushed up, add the yogurt mix to the pan, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook until chicken is tender and falling off the bone.
Uncover and simmer for about 7-10 minutes at low flame for the extra moisture to evaporate. If you want less sauce, simmer for longer.
Adjust salt and add the garam masala. Garnish with the rest of the green hot peppers sliced up and/or fresh cilantro/coriander leaves.
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hr 45 minutes