Buttermilk Chicken Kadhi
Type 'chicken recipe' into Google and watch as millions of suggestions line up, page after page, at your beck and call. There is no shortage of ways to cook our favourite bird. But often what I really want when I crave chicken is something that will comfort and soothe - a meal that is the equivalent to a good blanket, cup of tea, or a bath of the perfect temperature. For me, this buttermilk chicken kadhi is that dish.
Kadhi is one of India's most popular dishes, the taste of home for so many Indians. At its most basic, it is buttermilk or yoghurt spiced with fenugreek and turmeric, laced with green chillies, garlic and ginger, then bound together with chickpea flour. The flour thickens the buttermilk, turning it into a silky, deeply savoury and addictive sauce.
Poaching chicken in the kadhi is not traditional (Google searches return nothing) but, since putting the two together, I have never looked back. Pan-frying the chicken legs first brings out the delicious sticky caramel flavours in the skin before the buttermilk bath, which tenderises the leg meat magnificently. The result is impossibly soft chicken, which falls off the bone easily, ready to dunk into a creamy, but tart and gently spiced sauce.
As far as chicken recipes that hit the spot go, for flavour, speed and ease, this one is hard to beat.
Buttermilk Chicken Kadhi
Although the chickpea flour acts as a good stabiliser, don't be alarmed if the buttermilk curdles while cooking. It makes no difference to the flavour and the little curds add a lovely texture to the sauce. Serve with rice and a side salad.
Start to finish: 40 minutes
4lbs chicken thighs and drumsticks
1tsp black mustard seeds
2 pinches fenugreek seeds
1tsp cumin seeds
20 fresh curry leaves
11/2-inch chunk fresh ginger, grated
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 green finger chillies, finely chopped
11/2 tbsp chickpea flour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1tsp kosher salt
1 quart buttermilk
1. In a large skillet pan over medium-high, heat the oil. When hot, add the chicken and brown until evenly golden on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
2. Spoon off all but two tablespoons of the fat in the skillet. Return the skillet to medium heat, then add the mustard, fenugreek, cumin and curry leaves. Allow to sizzle for a minute, then add the ginger, garlic and chillies and cook for a few minutes, or until soft and golden.
3. Reduce the heat to low and add the chickpea flour, turmeric and salt. Mix and slowly whisk in the buttermilk. Bring the buttermilk up to a very gentle simmer, then return the chicken to the skillet. Coat with the sauce, then cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is soft and cooked through.
Nutrition information per serving: 520 calories; 210 calories from fat (40 per cent of total calories); 24g fat (6g saturated; 0g trans fats); 210mg cholesterol; 660 mg sodium; 24g carbohydrate; 3g fibre; 11g sugar; 49g protein.
n Meera Sodha is an Indian foods expert and author of 'Made in India: Recipes from an Indian family kitchen'. She lives in London, blogs at www.meerasodha.com and tweets at @meerasodha.