Route 79 : Punjabi-style Chicken

The effects of feeling hungry on the way home


November 8 2003


This time it’s “Chicken-a-la-Route79”.

Get some chicken: skinless, boneless, chicken thighs from your high-street butcher shop. Wash and chop up into bite-size pieces. I used around 750g today. This will cook enough for 4 hungry adults. Do not use chicken breast - as chicken breast is so dry and bland - and the end-result will be really crap. Goodness knows why chicken breast is so expensive here in UK - it’s the worst, most tasteless, pointless part of the chicken. The thigh or leg actually has the tastie and is a better texture when cooked - and yet it’s a lot cheaper than breast! Bizzare hey? Not sure I understand this logic - but I’m not complaining! Also peel around 4 small/medium onions - and wash and de-seed around 4 peppers - two large green, 2 small/medium red. You will also need a couple of tins of peeled plum tomato - and the usual spices: haldi (turmeric), salt, ground-dhania (coriander) and garam masala - as well as some pulped garlic, ginger and chillie. Plenty of garlic and ginger for this much chicken. Also - not shown in the picture is a bunch of fresh coriander. I used some frozen, chopped coriander - which was prepared weeks ago by moi from several bunches of fresh coriander from the grocer shop.


OK - so chop all the onions into coarse-ish strips. Also chop all the peppers into bite-sized chunks. And get an electric blender ready. Open up the tins of plum tomato - and pour the contents of one of them into the blender.

Then add some pieces of the chopped green pepper - about 1 peppers worth. Give it a good 15 second zap. Then add a bunch of fresh coriander leaf - stalks and all. Zap for another 15 seconds or so.

Then add the pre-pulped garlic, ginger and chillie - add the second tin of tomato - and zap it for another 10 seconds. What you should have is a thick dark green-ish sauce - which you should then pour into a large bowl. Then add the powdered spices to the sauce bowl: about 3 heaped teaspoons of haldi, 3 or 4 heaped teaspoons of garam masala - 2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 heaps of ground coriander. Don’t be put off by the colour of the sauce at this point - a dark dirty-green swamp type sauce - when it cooks it will go a wonderfully aromatic rich reddish-brown!

Stir in the ground spices thoroughly. It was at this point that little MissRoute79 came running into kitchen and pleaded with me if she could help me. So - I let her stir it around. (She had to stand on a foot-stool to reach!) You also need to get the onions cooking out now. Put plenty of oil into a large cooking pan - and stir fry the onions until they start to become translucentish. This might take around 10 mins.

Then add the remaining chunks of red and green pepper - and stir fry until the onions have started to go goldenish brown. At this point - pour in the chopped chicken thighs - and stir fry carefully.

Stir-fry the chicken until the chicken has turned from slimy-pink to rubbery-white. At this point you should pour the spicy sauce mixture over the chicken.

Give the pot a good, thorough stir - ensuring all the chicken is covered in the sauce. Do this whilst the flame is on really high - so that eventually the whole pot starts to boil nearly fiercely!

Now lower the flame to the lowest you can go - and place a lid on the pot - leaving a little gap for steam to escape - and the sauce to reduce. Leave it slow-simmering like this for about 1 hour - coming back to stir it around every 15 minutes or so. Then take a taste of the sauce with a spoon - to test if there’s enough salt or spices. If not - add some more salt and garam masala - and keep tasting until it tastes perfect.

Voila! It’s done. Put lid back on - and you can reheat it later when you wish to serve. You can call it a “chicken curry” if you like - but because it’s got green and red peppers in it - you might want to call it “chicken jalfrezi” - call it whatever you like. This way of cooking it was taught to me by my mum when I was a college kid. Serve it on a bed of freshly-cooked basmati rice - with a salad accompaniment - and a side-plate of a couple of fresh green chillies (if you can cope with biting into fresh green chillie) or achaar (pickle). Because that’s exactly how I’m going to have it tonight!

Have you tried this? Even if you haven't - let me know what you think!
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