Friday, December 26, 2008

Seeing Red With Kadhai Chicken

Today I was confronted once again by one of my pet peeves. Offenders be warned! I'm building up to a proper mini-rant!

There I was, driving into the parking lot of my local desi grocery store, and about to turn into a premium parking spot ... and right in the MIDDLE of it was an empty shopping cart! The cart return area was maybe ten steps away, but NO! Nope. That's too much of a hike for our lazy-ass shopper. I would say that 80% of the people frequenting that desi store would rather leave their empty shopping carts in the middle of the street, than put it back in the cart return area. If there are a total of, say 50 parking spots, most of those are taken up by empty shopping carts. Sometimes when I come out of the store with my grocery bags in hand, some wonderful person has actually parked their empty shopping cart just behind MY car! Or to the side, so that when the wind blows, the cart runs into my car and puts a neat little scratch on it. To that I have only one thing to say: WHAT THE F---?! Remember that you're NOT the only person shopping at that store, and show some BASIC courtesy! Stop being so SELFISH and LAZY! Unload your groceries from the cart into your car, close the trunk, then turn around, and take the extra FIVE seconds to return the cart to its proper place! TRY IT sometime, would ya?! *grumble grumble*

If this pet peeve gets you in a fiery mood too, then boy do I have a dish for you! No more cussing for the rest of the blog though, I promise.

Guys unabashedly gravitate towards food that's "homey" versus anything "fancy". Things that he can dig into with this bare hands make DH a happy man. Oh, I'm not saying he can't operate a knife + fork, but you can see him squirming for the most part! So where I come from, there's hardly a dish more "homier" than good 'ol Kadhai Chicken. It's fresh-tasting, with all that acid from the tomatoes, plus it has the zing of red + green chillies, black pepper (in my version) and garam masala. No onions. Simple, satisfying, desi soul food. The way our moms used to make it.

Pretty, no?! I want to take my hat off to this humble dish, by doing a lovely photo composition for it. I call it "A study in red".

Kadhai Chicken
Serves 4

1.5 lbs chicken pieces OR boneless chicken
6-8 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 small green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt (or more per your taste)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
3 tbsp canola/vegetable oil
Handful of chopped, fresh cilantro

1. Heat the oil on medium-high in a kadhai (desi verson of the wok) or any pot with a lid, then add the chicken pieces, ginger paste, and garlic. Quickly sear the chicken (golden brown on the outside).
2. Add the chopped tomatoes, green chillies, salt, chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala and black pepper. Mix well.
3. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover the pot, and let the whole thing cook down for about 15-20 mins. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick. No need to add water.
4. After that, take of the lid, turn the heat to high and bhoono (dry up the liquid partially by stirring often) for 5 mins. Some people prefer this dish to be quite dry, so they bhoono it for much longer.
5. Once the chicken is done, and the gravy is at the level I want it to be, I turn off the stove (remember to check for salt!) and garnish the whole thing with lots of cilantro. Serve hot with parathas.

Every pakistani household has their own version of Kadhai Chicken. Do share yours!


Doppelganger said...

Hmmm how interesting! Kadhai chicken without onions! I haven't had it made like this. I must try this recipe next time. The one I make has the black and green pepper too, but the ginger I add, I chop, instead of grinding. I sometimes also add kutti lal mirch (red pepper flakes). The hubbs makes killer Kadhai chicken though! He says he's told me the whole recipe, but I have my doubts. It doesn't turn out the way his does...ever! :P

Dianna said...

This looks excellent! I'm adding it to my very long list of things to try.

Muneeba said...

Thks ladies! Do let me know if this recipe works out for you!

Anonymous said...

Looks great and the recipe is very simple too. I loved your photograph and your mini-rant. I am going to try this soon; no not the mini-rant, the recipe.

I recently started a website to preserve my mothers recipes. I will be highly honored if you drop by and visit some day at

Muneeba said...

That's really very sweet of you Faisal, to have a website to preserve your mom's recipes .. she must be really proud of you! And I will definitely check it out!

Anonymous said...

This looks wonderful. I can see where it would be a very comforting (if spicy) dish.

My supermarket has eliminated the problem of people not putting their carts in the cart return areas by eliminating cart return areas. Now every parking spot is taken with carts! At least there's a plan :)

Muneeba said...

Huh ... I think I'd explode if I came to your neighborhood supermarket, Fearless Kitchen! ;) But thks for sharing that tidbit.

Eileen said...

first time visiting. having to learn how to cook all over again (have cancer that's spread). i love your site and have taken two (!!!) recipes from it thus far. maybe i should just stay here? thanks - and happy 2009!


Anonymous said...

hey muneeba...excellent karahi.. ive made the same last month, and wanted to tell u tht ive added crushed meethi dana too in it, the arooma was wonderfull :) keep up the excellent move girlie, and try to get in more of paki dishes... i really fall bad in tht :(

Muneeba said...

Eileen, you can definitely stay ... the more the merrier, I say! Hope my recipes work out for you :) Great job with your blog .. I love your style of writing.
Kulsum, that's a great idea with the methi dana (fenugreek seeds), and you're right, I LOVE the aroma myself!

Varsha Vipins said...

I cant take ma eyes off that pic..Awesome Muneeba..what a decor..:)..I bet its slurrrrrpy...:D
n the situ like what you mentioned has happened so many times to me too..:really disgusting..:X

Unknown said...

Hey, IF one were to use an onion, would it go in with the chicken?
Also, this recipe works well with tofu, if you don't dig on chicken. The tofu soaks up all the tomato juice and ginger and yumyumyum. I'm trying it out with tempeh right now.

Muneeba said...

Yup Quinn, the onion would go into the pot at the same time as the chicken, so that both caramelize simultaneously. Thks for the tip about using tofu - I know I'd go for it!

Resh said...

muneeba, i just made this dish, and its absolutely DELICIOUS!!! paki meat dishes are awesome, and i am glad i found a good one. I added the onions and whole cloves, plus added a touch of water and tom. sauce because i didn't have enough tomatoes. I will be putting this on my blog - ofcourse all credit goes to you. :)

Muneeba said...

Thanks Resh! I'm as excited as you that it worked out! Love it when a dish that's a staple in my home is successful for someone else ... I feel like I've truly shared a bit of ME!