Methi murgh (Chicken with fenugreek)

Indain cooking is a fine art. Nobody wants to blow their guests heads off but a bland curry is almost an insult. Perfect Methi murg chicken.


Serves 4

500g boneless chicken breasts
200g Greek-style yoghurt
1 tsp lemon juice
50ml ghee or oil
5-6 long green chillies, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 cm piece of ginger root, half finely chopped, half cut into thin strips
300g onions, finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli powder
200g tomatoes, chopped
200ml water
2 tbsp dried fenugreek or 120g fresh fenugreek leaves, chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

For the masala
5-6 green cardamom pods
1 black cardamom pod
5-6 cloves
2cm piece of cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 blade of mace
1 tsp cumin leaves

• In India or at home, we would only cook chicken on the bone, but boneless breast makes a dish more special and easier to eat. Cut the chicken into whatever size pieces you prefer and remove the skin if you like. Beat the yoghurt with the lemon juice and some salt, and mix in the chicken. Set aside for about an hour.
• Heat the ghee or oil in a large pan until a haze appears on top. Reduce the heat and add the ingredients for the whole masala (putting the cumin seeds in last, as they are more likely to burn). Cook until the spices are swollen and coloured, then stir in the green chillies, garlic and finely chopped ginger. When the garlic begins to turn golden, add the onions and the ground coriander and chilli powder mixed with about four tablespoons of water – this prevents the ground spices burning and also allows the colour to come through better. Cook until the onions are soft.
• Stir in the tomatoes and cook gently until the fat begins to surface. Add the chicken and its marinade, then the water. Stir in the fenugreek, coriander and the strips of ginger and cook for a few minutes more, until the chicken is done. Check the seasoning and remove from the heat. If you are using fresh fenugreek you will need to cook it a little longer.
• Serve with soft corn tortillas, which are similar to Indian corn chapatis, or with warm Indian breads.

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