The reaction that you expect from your guests when they walk into a home where this Masala Chicken is cooking, is: ‘It smells like Eid!’
For as long as I’ve known my mother-in-law, this is one of her best recipes.
Instead of the usual process of adding the chicken to a pot and then adding spices, the spices are cooked to a thick marinade which gets massaged into the chicken. It’s important to cook this on low heat, and at the end, to slightly dry it out so you’re left with a rich and fragrant coating.
Note: This is not a chicken with a wet gravy. It should be cooked just until it’s a thick sauce.
1 chicken, cut into quarters
1 tbsp ghee
2 tbsps oil
¼ onion, finely chopped
½ tsp whole cumin
2 tbsps white vinegar
1 tsp rough salt
½ tbsp chilli powder
1 ½ tbsp red wet ginger and garlic masala
1 tbsp ground garlic
A small knob of ginger or ½ tsp ground ginger
½ tbsp methi masala
2 tbsps tomato puree
1 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tbsps lemon juice
3–4 whole cloves
A few black peppercorns
A small cinnamon stick
2–3 whole cardamom pods
4–5 saffron fronds
¼ tsp white pepper
1 stick butter
Heat ghee in a pot and add the whole spices (cumin, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and cardamom) and chopped onion.
Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the ghee and whole spices mix.
Add the red masala and let it cook for a few seconds.
Add the salt, cumin and coriander powder and the balance of the ingredients.
Finally, add a teaspoon of saffron water for colour and a quarter teaspoon of white pepper. The mixture should be thick and saucy.
Allow it to cool slightly and smear it over your chicken pieces (they should be slit slightly so the marinade can flavour and tenderise the meat).
Add a finger width of butter into a pot.
Add the chicken and a quarter cup of water.
Add 3 whole green chillies for extra heat (optional).
At this stage, the chicken should be a fiery tone of maroon.
Switch the stove to high heat to allow the butter to melt over the chicken. This should gently coat the pan and start the process of cooking the chicken.
Reduce to medium heat and cool slowly.
Bring back to a high heat for the sauce to thicken and to burn slightly.
TIP: this chicken may be marinated and left in the freezer or in the fridge if you’re preparing it ahead of time. It is best served with chips or steamed vegetables prepared with a cream and sweetened butter sauce.
1 stick butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground green chilli
½ tsp ground garlic
1 tsp mixed herbs
½ cup sour cream
2 tbsps mayonnaise
½ cup fresh cream
Salt to taste
In a pan add the butter and allow it to melt on a gentle heat.
Add the brown sugar, black pepper, ground green chilli, ground garlic and mixed herbs.
Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, just to infuse the butter.
Whisk in the sour cream, mayonnaise and fresh cream. Season with salt to taste.
½ cup baby corn
½ cup baby carrots, scrubbed clean
½ cup baby marrow, cut at an angle into thick chunks
½ cup baby potatoes, halved
½ cup baby onions
½ cup butternut, cubed
½ cup sweet potatoes, cubed
Steam each vegetable separately in salted water for a few minutes, just until it is soft when a knife is inserted. Layer this into an oven-proof casserole dish. Pour over the sauce and bake for 20 minutes.