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Chicken Pista Recipe

This is a very simple and delicious dish with distinct Mughal influences. It is a mild chicken curry but full of bold flavors and textures. I recommend marinating the chicken for at least 6-8 hours, overnight if possible. This will allow the flavors in the marinade to fully develop and permeate the chicken. The use of yogurt in the marinade also keeps the chicken tender and succulent.



1 lb of boneless skinless chicken, cut into 1.5 pieces
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2-3 small Thai green chilies, cut in half lengthwise (to taste)
tsp turmeric (haldi)
1 tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
tsp garam masala
tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
salt & pepper, to taste
juice of lemon (or lime)
1 cup of good quality plain yogurt
cup of heavy cream
cup pistachio nuts (shells and skins removed)
1-2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola), as needed
freshly chopped mint leaves for garnish


In a small mixing bowl, combine the yogurt along with the ginger, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Whisk all the ingredients until well combined. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat well. Refrigerate and let marinate for at least 4 hours, the longer the better and overnight is best.

Using a spice mill or clean coffee grinder, blend the pistachios into a fine powder. Do not over do it or you will end up with pistachio paste. Keep aside until needed.

In a large deep skillet on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the fennel seeds and then the onions. Stir fry until just lightly browned and then add the green chilies and spices (bay leaf, turmeric, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder and garam masala). Now add the pistachio powder and stir fry. You may need to add a tbsp or so of more oil if needed. Stir fry for a few minutes and add the chicken pieces along with the marinade. Let cook for a few minutes, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes.

Check to make sure the chicken is fully cooked yet still moist and tender. To finish the dish, add the tomatoes and lemon (or lime) juice. Stir and add the heavy cream and the freshly grated nutmeg. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with fresh mint leaves. Serve with warm rotis and Basmati rice.


Try making this dish using cashews, almonds or a combination of various nuts.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Sadhana Ginde. All rights reserved.
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