Knowing how much I enjoy Indian food, Frances and Matthew sent me At Home with Madhur Jaffrey as a present last year. I have made several dishes from this cookbook and they have all been delicious and easy to follow, clearly written for the home cook. See Salmon in a Bengali Mustard Sauce for another recipe.
Goa is on the western coast of the Indian Peninsula and is, therefore, known for its seafood. However, meat and chicken dishes also abound. Its cuisine is heavy in Portuguese influences since it was a Portuguese colony for about 400 years. It was the Portuguese who introduced chilies to India in the late 15th century. Goan cuisine makes use of garlic, vinegar and hot chilies, all of which help preserve food and were part of the Portuguese culinary tradition. I served this chicken dish with a simple Basmati rice, cauliflower and peas (Ghobi Aur Matar) although I substituted edamame for the peas (See recipe which follows) and a cooling yogurt relish with cucumber, mint, garlic and dill. It sounds complicated by I was able to do the prep earlier in the day in under an hour and the actual cooking took about 30 minutes for everything. While not difficult, the key to the flavor lies in the spices. While I do buy pre-ground spices and even some spice mixes, there is definitely something to be said for grinding your own. With a small electric coffee grinder (which I actually never use for coffee) it takes just seconds to have freshly ground spices.
Goan-Style Chicken Moelho from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey
Yield: 4 servings
Rounded 1.5 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
Rounded 1 teaspoon whole brown or black mustard seeds
1.75 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 rounded teaspoons of a sweet paprika (unless you like things really hot, in which case you could add hot paprika)
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1.25 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar (I actually used apple cider vinegar)
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
3 Tablespoons Canola or Grapeseed oil
1 large onion, peeled, cut in half and then sliced into thin half-moons
1/2 cup water
Chopped cilantro for garnish
- Put the cumin and mustard seed into the container of a coffee grinder and grind finely.
- Place the chicken pieces in a non-reactive bowl or freezer bag along with the cumin-mustard seed mixture, cayenne, paprika, turmeric, salt, 1 Tablespoon of vinegar and the garlic. If using a plastic bag, as I did, seal the bag and then mush things around to coat all of the chicken pieces. Otherwise, use your hands to coat the chicken. This should be done at least 1 hour ahead, but can be done up to a day ahead. Refrigerate.
- When ready to eat, place the oil in a heavy-duty frying pan (I love my Lodge cast-iron) and set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and fry until the onions begin to brown – about 8 minutes.
- Add the marinated chicken and cook until the chicken turns opaque and begins to brown. Add the 1/2 cup of water mixed with the 1 Tablespoon of vinegar. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook gently for another 5 minutes. Serve with your favorite rice – traditionally it is red rice, but I used plain Basmati, a vegetable and chutney or cooling yogurt relish. Garnish with cilantro.