A traditional & (sometimes) time-consuming dish like this is a must in my house at least once a week..mostly middle of the week.The week usually starts on a very low note with soups,salads, lentils-rice etc thanks to our upset stomachs crying for simple home cooked meals to wither away the weekend damages from uncontrolled eating outside.Once we are back to normal,a recipe like this is required to do away the boredom of simple [ read bland] foods.Notice the vicious cycle & the excuses to cook heavy food,eat and enjoy! Such dishes,loaded with indian flavors keep my guy happy.He has this unfathomable love for indian food, not that it’s a miracle [considering that he is an indian] but I m amazed at the fact that how can anyone eat [or at least want to eat] indian food 365 days of the year and never get bored of it for once???
A typical scene whenever we are getting ready to eat out is like this:-
Me – “Lets go to OG (Olive Garden for italian ) or PF (Chang’s for chinese)”
Him -“As you say.Get ready! ”
After half an hour – Me, happily dressed, getting into the car & asking to double confirm “OG or PF?”
Him – “Where do you want to go?” ( hoping that I might have changed my options)
Me -“OG” (replying shamelessly even after knowing that he doesnt like italian)
Half way, through the drive, he feels that there still might be a chance to change.He tries again,for the third time now ” You REALLY wanna eat italian?”
Mostly, not because I m trying to be a good wife (or whatever ),I give in to eat indian coz I don’t want to spoil the poor guy’s dinner 🙂 You should see the spark in his eyes as he locks the car in front of the restaurant!
Alright,this dish you might or might not get in the indian restaurants so make it at home.Its a rich, spicy & really flavorful preparation.”Bhuna” is basically a technique of searing the meat first,cooking a thick spice paste in oil,adding the seared meat to it & then slow cooking in its own juices it for 2-3 hours.The slow cooking results in deep strong flavours but a very thick sauce.”Bhuna” literally means browned, the meat in this dish has a brown look due to all the slow cooking & particularly the used of many black indian spices that make there way into the recipe.Boneless meat will not work in this recipe unless it’s a very thick cut.If using chicken, try to use the dark meat portions like thighs & drumsticks. The beauty of this two-in-one recipe is that the spice rub is so flavorful that you can drop the sauce preparation & grill the chicken pieces to make a perfect summer appetizer. As always I shy away from use of tomatoes in meat dishes, you can add some if you want.
Ingredients :- [Serves 4]
- 2 lbs chicken, bone in, skinned [7-8 pieces,use thigh/drumsticks or dark meat portions]
- 1 tsp oil for rubbing on chicken +more for brushing on the grill pan
- 1.5 tsp salt
For the spice rub :-
- 4 whole dry red chilies
- 2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
- 6 cloves
- 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 black cardamom pods, cracked open
- 2 tsp black peppercorns [ Adjust to taste]
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup onion, finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic ,grated
- 2″ ginger shoot, grated
- 3 bay leaves
- 1″ cinnamon stick
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt, beaten [slightly sour]
- 4 tbsp oil
- Salt to taste
- Cilantro, chillies etc for garnish [optional]
- Wash the chicken pieces thoroughly & pat dry using a paper towel.Once dried, rub the 1 tsp oil & 1.5 tsp salt over the pieces.Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, on low heat,roast all the whole spices [except turmeric,nutmeg & salt] till you smell the aroma.About 5 minutes.
- Let the roasted spices cool down a bit.Once cooled, tip into your coffee grinder or using mortar & pestle, coarsely grind the spices.
- Add turmeric, ground nutmeg & salt to the ground spices to make a mix.
- Lay the chicken pieces in a single layer and thoroughly rub half the amount of spice mix all over.Let sit for another 5 minutes. Mix the rest of the spice mix with beaten yogurt & set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat a grill pan [or a normal pan] to smoking hot.Once hot,brush some oil on the pan and layer the chicken pieces on the pan. Here, the idea is just to sear the flesh of the chicken [not cook it].You can even do it in the same pot in which you want to cook the sauce,I prefer a wide open pan for the sake of searing all piece in one go & easier flipping.Let sear for about 5 minutes on each side. Once seared, remove from heat.Reserve the drippings if any. Note:- You can use your outdoor grill too for this purpose.
- While the chicken is being seared, heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot with lid on medium heat. [ or use your slow cooker for this purpose]
- Once the oil is smoking, lower the heat & add the chopped onions to the pot.Cook the onions till golden brown.About 8 minutes.
- Next, add the grated ginger & garlic to the pot along with bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Cook for 1 minute more.Let the heat be on low.
- Add the spice mixed yogurt to the pot next and combine well with onions.Cook for 2 minutes with constant stirring to avoid curdling of the yogurt.You will slowly see yogurt releasing water. TIP: Whenever adding yogurt to hot pot, ensure that the stove is on the lowest mark.
- Add the seared chicken pieces to the pot next, pep up the heat to medium and cook the chicken pieces for 5 minutes.Check the salt now [ remember we rubbed chicken with salt earlier] and adjust if required. Also,add the drippings[ if any] from the grill pan to the pot.
- Again, reduce the heat to lowest possible on your stove, cover the pot and let the chicken cook to fully done.About 25-30 minutes.Avoid adding any water to the pot.As the chicken will cook,it will release its own juices which are enough to cook it.You will need to stir in between once or twice. Avoid adding any water to the pot.
- Once the chicken is cooked, remove from heat and let sit covered for another 10 minutes.
- Garnish with cilantro & sliced chillies.
- Serve warm with chapthis, naan [flatbreads] or cumin rice.
- If you want to serve the chicken as appetizers, cook them to perfection on the outdoor/indoor grill itself & serve with Mango Mint Chutney.
- This recipe can be used for goat meat,turkey, beef or lamb also.The cooking time will very as per the kind of meat used.
- This spice rub is serves as a flavorful condiment to add indian twist to your grilling.