Thursday, November 27, 2014

Chicken Rezala with Mint

Chicken Rezala with Mint
Legend has it that Chicken Rezala was born in Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) by bawarchis (cooks) in the kitchen of the Nawab of Lucknow. It is an elaborate preparation involving the paste of poppy seeds & nuts, yogurt & ghee, among other ingredients.

Here is a simplified version of the same, taken up a notch with the addition of mint chutney, that is light, delicious and perfect for lunch with loochis (puffed bread) or hot Basmati rice. If mint chutney is not available, make your own by blending a bunch of mint leaves with cilantro stems, lime juice, salt to taste and a smidgen of sugar. This chutney goes well with Indian appetizers such as samosas or pakoras.

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in bite-sized pieces
3 oz. Greek or strained unflavored yogurt
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. ginger paste
1 Tbsp. garlic paste
salt to taste
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil 
1/4 tsp. shah jeera or cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 big black cardamoms, split
1 large onion, halved & sliced in thin crescents
1 serrano pepper, sliced in rings
1 Tbsp. mint chutney
10-12 curry patta (curry leaves) 
salt to taste

  1. Massage chicken with marinade and set aside for 2 hours or refrigerate overnight.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat & temper with cumin seeds, cinnamon and cardamoms.
  3. Add onions and peppers & stir-fry until onions turn translucent.
  4. Add chicken pieces, stir-fry until no longer pink & reduce heat to medium-low.
  5. Add mint chutney and curry patta & simmer for 20 minutes or until oil resurfaces.
  6. Adjust salt to taste and serve with Indian bread or hot Basmati rice.
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