Kolhapur is an ancient Indian city with a rich and vibrant history. It is located in the south western corner of the state of Maharashtra. It was settled by the Marathas (Hindu warrior class) who had a love for mainly non vegetarian food.
Kolhapuri cuisine is well known for its bold and aromatic dishes. Traditionally, the food is spicy and full of robust flavors. Varhadi Chicken is a delicious example of what Kolhapuri cuisine has to offer.
This dish is spicy, so feel free to adjust the spiciness to suit your palate.
KOLHAPURI CHICKEN (Varhadi Chicken)
1 lb of boneless skinless chicken pieces, cut into 1½” cubes
1 large onion, small dice
2-3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 inch piece of ginger, finely minced
1 large tomato, finely chopped
3 tbsp freshly grated coconut (you can substitute unsweetened desiccated coconut)
1 cup good quality yogurt
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
2 tbsp red chili powder, to taste
½ tsp kala masala (also known as goda masala, you can substitute garam masala)
1-2 bay leaves
2-3 whole cloves
4-5 black peppercorns
2-3 cardamom pods, gently crushed
1 stick of cinnamon (approximately 2” in length)
salt to taste
juice of ½ lime
2-3 tbsp oil, vegetable or canola
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt along with the spices (salt, turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder and ½ tsp red chili powder). Mix well to combine and add the chicken pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for at least 4-6 hours in the refrigerator. If possible, overnight works best.
In a large deep skillet on medium heat, add 1 tbsp of oil. Add the whole spices (bay leaves, cloves, black peppercorns, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick). Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and then add the onions. Stir fry the onions until slightly browned and then add the grated coconut, ginger and garlic. Stir fry for another 3-4 minutes and then add the chopped tomatoes. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Next, remove from the heat and set aside to cool. When the mixture has cooled, puree into a smooth thick paste. This mixture is known as Kohlapuri masala.
Add the remaining oil to the skillet and when hot (medium high heat), carefully add the chicken along with marinade to the pan. Add the Kohlapuri masala, kala or garam masala and remaining red chili powder. Stir well to combine, cover, reduce the heat and let simmer 10-12 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked yet moist and tender.
Add the lime juice and stir well. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and serve with fresh chapatis and fragrant Basmati rice.
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