Thursday, October 16, 2008

Karhai chicken I

I love the combo of hot and sour. Luckily there are a lot of Pakistani dishes that hit the spot for me when it comes to chili hot and lemon sour layers of flavor. A karhai is a wok like pot with two handles on either side. You can use an authentic karhai, but it isn't absolutely necessary. I make karhai chicken in a deep non-stick pot, which I use for most of my "curry" type dishes. Karhai chicken is a very typical PK household standard. Originating from the Frontier region, it is made in many interpretations across Pakistan and also in India. You should serve this particular version with chapati (whole wheat flatbread), or naan. This is an adaptation of my mother-in-law's home recipe.

1 whole chicken skinned and cut into medium to small pieces (about 12 pieces), bone-in
1 tbs crushed ginger
2 inches worth of ginger chopped into match-stick sized slivers
1 tbs crushed garlic
3 large tomatoes chopped
1 tsp red chile powder
1 heaping tablespoon Shan brand Curry Powder
1/2 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder)
2 green chilies finely chopped
2 green chilies roughly chopped (large chunks)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp or so lime juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
2-3 tbs oil

Heat oil in pan. Add in crushed garlic and crushed ginger and stir on high heat until golden. Toss in tomatoes, Shan Curry Powder, red chile powder, finely chopped green chilies, and salt. Stir on high heat for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes melt down and you are left with a thick gravy paste. Toss in the chicken pieces and braise on high heat for a few minutes until all the chicken turns color. Add in the water---you may need more or less depending on how much water your locally available chicken releases when cooking. Allow to boil once, cover, and lower heat to the lowest setting to cook until chicken is done, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from sticking/burning. The chicken available to me here in Dubai takes about 30 minutes. *TIP*: Karhai chicken should have a fairly thick and dry gravy. When you are ready to serve, add in the aamchoor, lemon juice and mix it well into the gravy. The aamchoor and the lime juice both add sourness, but have very different flavor notes, and will add something special to the dish while achieving tartness in the gravy. Garnish with the roughly chopped green chilies, cilantro, and match stick sized ginger slices.

So simple, tangy, hot and delicious. You're gonna luv it!

Here's another *TIP*: You can easily turn this dish into karhai methi chicken. Methi is fenugreek. You need a box of Qasoori methi, which is dried fenugreek. Follow all of the steps and ingredients, but omit the match stick ginger garnish. When the chicken is cooked and the gravy looks good, stir in 2 table spoons of Qasoori methi. Cover the pot and allow the methi to mingle with the chicken for about 5 minutes. Then stir in the aamchoor, lime juice, and garnish with the roughly chopped chilies and cilantro.

Krazy for karhai?
For black peppercorn karhai see here.
For Landi Kotal Shinwari style karhai, see here.

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