Chicken with Caramelized Aromatics
(by Shanta Sultana)
This dish is cooked for special occasions in Indo-Persian cuisine, also known as Mughlai cuisine in South Asia. It is sometimes called Chicken Kalia or Shahi Chicken.
2 1/2 lb. chicken, quartered and skinned
2 t. salt, or to taste
7 T. full fat yogurt, preferably Greek yogurt
4 T. clarified butter, ghee, or vegetable oil
2 white onions, julienned
1 t. sugar
4 T. raisins
2 T. dried apricot, cubed
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled
6 – 7 cloves garlic, peeled
2 T. pistachios
3 t. white pepper
1 t. black pepper
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground mace
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 c. water
few sprinkles of rose water
soft boiled eggs (chicken, duck, or quail)
Score chicken pieces on both sides three times for the flavors to penetrate.
Combine 1/2 t. salt and 1 T. yogurt, and coat the chicken pieces.
Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Heat butter, ghee, or oil in a wide, flat non-stick pan with a fitted lid, and add onions.
Cook, stirring, then add the sugar and remaining salt.
When onions have turned slightly brown, add 3 T. raisins and the cubed apricots.
Cook, stirring, until the dried fruits are roasted and sticky.
Place chicken pieces in the pan and cook over low heat about 4 or 5 minutes, until pick up the color of the fruits.
Turn the pieces to color the other side.
Roughly chop the ginger root and place it with garlic, the remaining raisins and the pistachios in a pestle and mortar. Pound them to a smooth paste.
Add the paste to the pain and stir.
Add the two peppers and all the spices, stirring the chicken pieces in the sauce.
Whisk the remaining yogurt and add to the pan, stirring.
Add the water, cover, and cook over low heat for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
Lift the lid, sprinkle with rose water, add the eggs, and cover for 90 seconds.
Note: Although the dish can be served straight away, it tastes best if it sits for a while. Reheat over low heat or in a low oven covered with foil.
Serve with saffron rice and a green salad.