Most of my cooking has generally veered towards Continental cuisine mainly because being the lazy person that I am, I prefer to use as few ingredients as I possibly can. Spices and the huge array of them used in Indian cooking used to completely overwhelm me. Also, having someone make our daily meals gave me the liberty to try my experiments with other exotic stuff.
I have never been able to even attempt a Biriyani because after getting to the 14th ingredient in the list with lots more to go, my eyes would start glazing over and I’d just give up. Lately, my interest in desi khana has zoomed but the lazy me is still looking at using the least possible ingredients and to my surprise, it is possible. Am coming across so many simple but very tasty recipes and hounding my friends, family, mom’s friends who are good cooks for theirs and the apprehension is slowly fading.
I still have to muster up the courage to make biriyani but till then, here’s a simple chicken recipe for you to try. I’ve used no spices other than hing and it’s all fresh ingredients. You can make it a gravy dish or a dry-ish dish depending on your choice. If you feel it’s become too dry, just add water (as much or as little as you want) and simmer for a bit to incorporate the flavours of the dish. If you add more than a cup of water, you may have to re-check your seasoning. I used medium sized chicken pieces. If yours are large, the cooking time would increase.
1 kg chicken with bones (or half a chicken)
400 gms thick yoghurt
2 heaped tbsp garlic paste
1 heaped tbsp ginger paste
2 long green chillies seeded and ground to a paste
1 1/2 tsp salt
For sautéing in the pan
3 tbsp mustard oil
2 medium onions sliced finely
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing)
- Marinate the chicken in the yoghurt, garlic, ginger, green chillies and salt for two hours (the more the better).
- In a non-stick saucepan, heat the oil and saute the onion and bay leaves for a couple of minutes. Add the asafoetida (hing) and keep sautéing till the onions turn brown.
- Add the chicken and all the marinade to the pan and mix well. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. Check to see if all the pieces are cooked. Keep an eye on the breast pieces here as they cook way faster than chicken legs and thighs and therefore have the tendency to get hard.
- After 15 minutes uncover the lid and check the seasoning and also see if all the meat is cooked. If you want less gravy, cook uncovered on medium-high heat for another few minutes till you get the consistency you need.
- Transfer the chicken to a serving bowl and serve immediately. You can sprinkle a bit of chopped coriander over the dish before serving if you want.
Important notes: Chicken breasts cook really fast while the thighs and legs take a lot longer. The breasts can go hard in the time it takes to cook all the pieces. There are two options to avoid this:
- Omit breast pieces completely.
- Add the breast pieces 10 minutes after adding the rest and cook together for the remaining 10 minutes.
I prefer the curd I use not to be sour. The sourness comes through during the cooking process anyway, so try and avoid extra sour yoghurt.