Unlike many European and Western cuisines, Indian food relies mainly on dried spices for flavor and taste. Very rarely does Indian cuisine rely on the use of fresh herbs to the extent of their culinary global counterparts. The most widely used fresh herb in the Indian kitchen is cilantro followed by mint. That being said, cilantro is most commonly used as a garnish or in the form of a fresh chutney. But there are exceptions and this recipe happens to be a delicious one.
I know there are some people who are unable to tolerate the taste of cilantro, so by all means, feel free to substitute mint to make Pudina Chicken (Mint Chicken). But since mint can be very strong, only use 2 cups of fresh mint leaves.
DHANIA CHICKEN (Cilantro Chicken)
1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken cut into 1.5” cubes
3-4 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1.5” piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 large onion, finely diced
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
2-3 dried red chilies
juice of ½ lemon
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp ground coriander powder
1 tsp ground cumin powder
salt & pepper, to taste
1 large bunch of cilantro (4 cups loosely packed, cilantro leaves)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup of yogurt
2 tbsp oil, vegetable or canola
In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt along with the ginger, garlic, chicken pieces, lemon juice, ground coriander powder, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours (preferably overnight, the longer the better).
In a blender, add the cilantro leaves with a tiny pinch of salt and just enough water to blend into a smooth puree. Set aside until needed.
In a large deep skillet or wok on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the onions. Stir fry and let the onions brown, this may take some time (up to 10-12 minutes) but it is well worth the effort. Now, add the dried red chilies along with the turmeric, garam masala and ground cumin powder. Stir and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste. Stir well to combine all of the ingredients. Then add the chicken pieces along with the yogurt marinade. Stir well and let cook on low for 12-15 minutes until the chicken is tender but fully cooked, most of the liquid should have evaporated. Add the freshly pureed cilantro, stir well and let cook for an additional 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with fresh chapatis, Basmati rice and raita (yogurt based salads).