Thursday 18 October 2012

a pakistani downton supper: chicken hara masala

chicken hara masala

green is the colour of renewal, of beginning afresh. i associate it with bright slices of foliage that cropped from the rock mountains in gilgit, the tentative appearance of spring in london - pale shoots and soft carpet of grass in the parks. green is the glossy growth of trees in the margalla’s refreshed by monsoon rain. green are the pine needles in nathia gali. this recipe is the colour of coriander, albeit slightly subdued in its brightness as it is lightened with yoghurt and cream. the heat also affects the shade. it is best with chicken on the bone as it intensifies the flavour of the masala. but in the interest of time and this being a downton supper i used boneless. i served it on a bed of steamed basmati. a sesame studded naan would be equally good.

{chicken hara masala}

five hundred grams boneless chicken 
one tablespoon sunflower oil 
four cloves of garlic 
one inch piece of ginger 
half a teaspoon red chilli flakes 
two tablespoons heavy cream 
two hundred and fifty grams live yoghurt 
hundred grams fresh coriander (stalks and leaves) 
two fresh green chillies 
one heaping teaspoon salt 
five hundred ml water 
chopped coriander and green chilli to garnish 

using a pestle and mortar, make a paste with the garlic, ginger and red chilli flakes. keep this handy as you will add it to the chicken once it is fried. stir-fry the chicken in a wok in the tablespoon of oil until it is lightly brown on high heat, reducing it to medium to evaporate any water. then add the ginger, garlic and chilli paste. fry it briefly so that the roots soften but do not allow the paste to burn. remove the chicken from the wok and set aside. 

for the masala use a food processer to blitz the coriander, green chillies, yoghurt and heavy cream. tip this into the wok allowing it to reduce partially covered on medium heat. once the masala begins to sweat the oil take off the lid and keep stirring until all the water evaporates. at its complete stage the masala will look like it is surrounded by a rim of oil. 

add the chicken and the water to the masala and bring to a rolling boil. then lower the heat and let the masala simmer until the meat is tender. the masala itself should be the consistency of a thick soup. garnish it with some fresh coriander and green chillies before serving.

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